Esau's Tears: Modern Anti-Semitism and the Rise of the Jews

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9780521795388: Esau's Tears: Modern Anti-Semitism and the Rise of the Jews

Esau's Tears explores the rise of modern racial-political anti-Semitism in Europe and the United States. Previous histories have been more concerned with description than analysis and most have lacked balance. The evidence presented in this volume suggests that anti-Semitism in these years was more ambiguous than usually presented, less pervasive and central to the lives of both Jews and non-Jews, and by no means clearly pointed to a rising hatred of Jews everywhere, even less to the likelihood of mass murder. Hatred of Jews was not as mysterious or incomprehensible as often presented, but may be related to the differing perceptions of the rise of the Jews in modern times.

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"Albert S. Lindemann has touched raw nerves with Esau's Tears....[This] is the real context of the controversy stirred by Esau's Tears: Lindemann's unwillingness to allow the victimology racket to proceed unchallenged." Paul Gottfried, Chronicles

"Lindemann has amassed a large amount of useful information, and his call for a more complex and dispassionate historical understanding of antisemitism is welcome." Choice

"Lindemann's richness and subtlety are difficult to overstate....Esau's Tears is a superior sourcebook for students of anti-Semitism and a brilliant analytical work, chock-full of original ideas, concepts and well-balanced interpretations." Susan Zuccotti, The Nation

"...a work of immense sweep and ambition....merely to call the book 'provocative' would be to understate the intensity of the criticism it is likely to attract....readers and reviewers should bear in mind the author's record as an able, serious scholar whose sincere intention it is to contribute to our understanding of antisemitism." H-Antisemitism, H-NET

"...profoundly biased and ignominious..." Robert S. Wistrich, Commentary

"...a work which tries to be as open-minded as possible about a subject which does not lend itself to such treatment, and to a very high degree it succeeds in this task. Any fair-minded reader will be impressed by the way in which Lindemann tackles taboo after taboo in the litany of anti-Semitic historiography and, basing himself scrupulously on scholarly research, reveals a much more complex picture...without ever trying to excuse the anti-Semitism or the anti-Semite." Steven Beller, Times Literary Supplement

"This survey of anti-Semitism in the 50 years preceding the rise of the Nazis is sure to generate controversy.... Lindemann displays a wide breadth of history and of the historical literature." Publishers Weekly

"A richly informative...overview of anti-Jewish bigotry and violence between the 1870s, when the term 'anti-Semitism' was coined, and the Holocaust....There's much provocative, compelling material here." Kirkus Reviews

"Esau's Tears is lucidly written and the drama of the subject easily holds the reader's attention. The book raises troubling issues that have sometimes been downplayed or ignored, and in this it performs a service." The Washington Times

"elegantly written" Holocaust & Genocide

From Kirkus Reviews:

A richly informative, if highly problematic, overview of anti- Jewish bigotry and violence between the 1870s, when the term ``anti-Semitism'' was coined, and the Holocaust. Lindemann (History/Univ. of Calif., Santa Barbara), who has written previously on Dreyfus and other anti-Semitic cases, here focuses largely on Germany and France, with lesser attention to Russia, Great Britain, the US, Italy, Hungary, and Romania. (Curiously, a section on the interwar years almost entirely omits Poland, a country with a deep anti-Semitic tradition.) He correctly posits an indirect line between the racist anti-Semitism that characterized the beginning of the period and what Daniel Goldhagen calls the ``eliminationist'' ethos that led to the Holocaust. Lindemann also makes a valuable contribution to our understanding of both long-term socioeconomic and short-term political contingencies behind the expression of anti-Semitism. He reveals the ``comparative quality and texture in expressions of anti-Jewish sentiment'' by demonstrating that most major anti-Semites and philo-Semites were more complex than their labels would indicate. However, Lindemann's penchant for nuance ultimately takes its toll. While there is an indisputable correlation between the rise of Jewish power and influence during the 19th and 20th centuries and the intensification of political and intellectual anti-Semitism, the author comes very close to suggesting that there is a clear-cut causal relationship between the two. Thus, he refers to modern anti-Semitism as ``transparently an ideology of revenge'' and alludes to the supposed ``Jewish sense of superiority (including certain kinds of measurable Jewish superiority) and the envy/hatred it has engendered.'' Finally, Lindemann, who calls for scholars to engage in a nonpolemical study of anti-Semitism, himself lapses into highly charged statements and rhetorical questions in an odd, rambling conclusion. There's much provocative, compelling material here, but the author's conclusions are too often contradictory or unpersuasive. -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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