Daniel Jonah Goldhagen
The Devil That Never Dies
The Rise and Threat of Global Antisemitism
LIttle, Brown and Company 2013
New Books in European StudiesNew Books in Jewish StudiesNew Books in Middle Eastern StudiesNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in ReligionNew Books in Religion & FaithNew Books in World AffairsNew Books Network October 22, 2013 Marshall Poe
There are 13 million Jews in the world today. There are also 13 million Senegalese, 13 million Zambians, 13 million Zimbabweans, and 13 million Chadians. These are tiny–a realist might say “insignificant”–nations. But here’s the funny–though that doesn’t seem like the right world–thing. One of them is the focus of a persistent, virulent, worldwide prejudice, an intense hostility that is totally out of proportion with its size and, the realist would add, significance. And you know exactly which one it is.
In his eye-opening book The Devil That Never Dies: The Rise and Threat of Global Antisemitism (Little, Brown and Co., 2013), Daniel Jonah Goldhagen explores the historical origins of anti-semitism in Europe and its remarkable spread after the Second World War. It is, at least to me, a bizarre and discouraging story. There is, of course, no rational basis for anti-semitism per se. Yet it is everywhere, part of national cultures and discourses throughout the world. This is true where there are Jews (always in tiny numbers) and it is true where there are no Jews at all (as in most of the developing world). Goldhagen does a masterful job of describing the migration of anti-semitism from Europe to everywhere else and works hard to explain it. I don’t know if even he would say he succeeded in the latter task because, well, the entire phenomenon seems to defy rational explanation.