Nonetheless, Bronner may have written the best short book on antiSemitism. The 14 pages of chapter notes include useful...




A coherent treatment of a complex issue and its most significant secular document.

Before discussing the influence of ``The Protocols'' and commenting on selections, Bronner (Political Science and Comparative Literature/Rutgers; Moments of Decision: Political History and the Crises of Radicalism, not reviewed) traces the history of ``Judeophobia'' from the time that Judaism, not Jews, was the enemy. To pagan rivals, the Jews’ faith was despised for the arrogance of such monotheism. Economic resentment both predated and postdated Christianity, but envy would not target poorer Jews. Bronner sees Christian antiSemitism as the third and most dangerous wave of prejudice. In the Gospels all Jews, even the secular or poor, were demonized. Jews were inherently evil, eternally guilty Christ killers befitting the satanic snake stealthily squeezing the world, in the parlance of ``The Protocols''—a forgery by the czarist police in which a cabal of powerful Jews conspire to economically, politically, and culturally supplant Christian civilization. Both this tract and later Nazi ideology are secular, yet Bronner demonstrates that their satanic metaphors are as blatant as the vitriol of Martin Luther, and that “The Protocols'' infuse the realistic fears of losers in the march to democratic freedoms and modernity with the paranoid fantasies of religious myths. ``Hitler considered the logic of the `Protocols' his own . . . the Jews had declared war on him”; he knew, Bronner contends, the Jews were the agents of progress. From Henry Ford to Ezra Pound, from many Arab newspapers to skinhead Web sites, Bronner sees the letter and spirit of ``The Protocols'' living on. Perhaps out of fairness, he levels some blame at the victims, for the chauvinism of fundamentalist Jews, forgetting they weren't the threatening cosmopolites of his thesis.

Nonetheless, Bronner may have written the best short book on antiSemitism. The 14 pages of chapter notes include useful bibliographic information.

Pub Date: April 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-312-21804-4

Page Count: 160

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2000

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.


An engaging, casual history of librarians and libraries and a famous one that burned down.

In her latest, New Yorker staff writer Orlean (Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, 2011, etc.) seeks to “tell about a place I love that doesn’t belong to me but feels like it is mine.” It’s the story of the Los Angeles Public Library, poet Charles Bukowski’s “wondrous place,” and what happened to it on April 29, 1986: It burned down. The fire raged “for more than seven hours and reached temperatures of 2000 degrees…more than one million books were burned or damaged.” Though nobody was killed, 22 people were injured, and it took more than 3 million gallons of water to put it out. One of the firefighters on the scene said, “We thought we were looking at the bowels of hell….It was surreal.” Besides telling the story of the historic library and its destruction, the author recounts the intense arson investigation and provides an in-depth biography of the troubled young man who was arrested for starting it, actor Harry Peak. Orlean reminds us that library fires have been around since the Library of Alexandria; during World War II, “the Nazis alone destroyed an estimated hundred million books.” She continues, “destroying a culture’s books is sentencing it to something worse than death: It is sentencing it to seem as if it never happened.” The author also examines the library’s important role in the city since 1872 and the construction of the historic Goodhue Building in 1926. Orlean visited the current library and talked to many of the librarians, learning about their jobs and responsibilities, how libraries were a “solace in the Depression,” and the ongoing problems librarians face dealing with the homeless. The author speculates about Peak’s guilt but remains “confounded.” Maybe it was just an accident after all.

Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4018-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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