A SHORT HISTORY OF ANTI-SEMITISM by Vamberto Morais

A SHORT HISTORY OF ANTI-SEMITISM

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The author of this chronological study of anti-Jewish persecution is a Brazilian-born BBC official with a background in classical studies, and the richest part of his 2500-year narrative deals with antiquity--which featured no ""anti-Semitism"" in the modern sense, but a series of clashes within the Roman and Persian Empires, and a crescendo of Judeo-Christian competition for converts. Also notable is the account of Jewish fortunes in Brazil under the relatively tolerant Dutch colonialists and the relatively ineffectual Portuguese Inquisition. The book remains generally descriptive rather than explanatory, and even on the descriptive level there is no systematic account of the medieval practice of ming European Jews to lend money and collect taxes, then periodically milking the Jews themselves. Massacres and expulsions are thus viewed as mere unpredictable ""epidemics."" By the same token, in the modern period Morais describes manipulations of popular backwardness like the intelligence-agency, forgery of the Protocols of Zion; yet the emphasis is on the general psychology of stereotypes and ethnocentrism, rather than the deliberate destruction of the Enlightenment tradition from above. Even Hitler, despite his own cynical statements to the contrary, is viewed as an ""unconscious"" wielder of anti-Semitism. A compact secondary source but an unsatisfying interpretation.

Pub Date: June 28th, 1976
ISBN: 0393335178
Publisher: Norton