Antisemitism: A History

Antisemitism: A History

Antisemitism: A History

Antisemitism: A History


Antisemitism: A History offers a readable overview of a daunting topic, describing and analyzing the hatred that Jews have faced from ancient times to the present. The essays contained in this volume provide an ideal introduction to the history and nature of antisemitism, stressing readability, balance, and thematic coherence, while trying to gain some distance from the polemics and apologetics that so often cloud the subject. Chapters have been written by leading scholars in the field and take into account the most important new developments in their areas of expertise. Collectively, the chapters cover the whole history of antisemitism, from the ancient Mediterranean and the pre-Christian era, through the Medieval and Early Modern periods, to the Enlightenment and beyond. The later chapters focus on the history of antisemitism by region, looking at France, the English-speaking world, Russia and the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, and Nazi Germany, with contributions too on the phenomenon in the Arab world, both before and after the foundation of Israel. Contributors grapple with the use and abuse of the term 'antisemitism', which was first coined in the mid-nineteenth century but which has since gathered a range of obscure connotations and confusingly different definitions, often applied retrospectively to historically distant periods and vastly dissimilar phenomena. Of course, as this book shows, hostility to Jews dates to biblical periods, but the nature of that hostility and the many purposes to which it has been put have varied over time and often been mixed with admiration - a situation which continues in the twenty-firstcentury.


The central goal of this volume is to offer a readable overview of a daunting topic, trying to gain some distance from the polemics and apologetics that are in danger of becoming predictable and unproductive, especially on a popular level. As editors we sought out a wide selection of recognized scholars, asking them to include the most important new developments in their fields, as succinctly as possible. We have done our best to trim the familiar but at times off-putting conventions of scholarly apparatus and style, while striving to retain the accuracy, rigor, and open-mindedness of the best scholarly traditions.

While we have worked to assure thematic unities in the volume, we have by no means sought to enforce any one interpretive perspective. The scholars represented here do not agree with each other on all points, but they do recognize that conflicting viewpoints of a scholarly nature should get a fair hearing.

As editors we each contributed one of the articles. We collaborated on the Introduction and Conclusion, but they reflect differences of approach and contrasting nuances of interpretation, the Introduction being primarily the work of Albert Lindemann, the Conclusion of Richard Levy.

This work is affectionately dedicated to the memory of John Doyle Klier, who died on September 23, 2007, before he could make his contribution to this volume. The scholarly world is a sadder, poorer place without him.



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