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The History of Anti-Semitism

“The History of Anti-Semitism”

Leon Poliakov
Vol. 1: 352 pages, $19.95 paperback; vol. 2: 416 pages, $22.50 paperback; vol. 3: 592 pages, $24.95 paperback; vol. 4: 440 pages, $22.50 paperback

Covering the story of prejudice against Jews from the time of Christ through the rise of Nazi Germany, “The History of Anti-Semitism” presents a balanced, careful assessment of this egregious human failing that is nearly ubiquitous in the history of Europe.

“From the Time of Christ to the Court Jews” systematically traces hatred against Jews as it developed from Roman times to the end of the 18th century. This volume demonstrates that organized anti-Semitism was unknown until the First Crusade.

“From Mohammed to the Marranos” focuses on the Sephardim, the Jews of North Africa and Iberia. Poliakov relates the great achievements of Spanish Jewry under the Muslim Caliphs followed by their gradual and painful decline during and after the Christian reconquest.

“From Voltaire to Wagner” reviews the period of the European Enlightenment in the 18th and 19th centuries.

“Suicidal Europe, 1870-1933” traces the development of a belief among Europe’s educated classes in an eventual Jewish domination of the West. Poliakov demonstrates that the steady rise in anti-Semitism and suspicion of Jews in the late 19th century and its eventual eruption in the rise of the Nazi party in Germany in the 1920s are part of the same thread of fear and hatred that reaches back to the beginning of the first millennium.

Léon Poliakov (1910-97) wrote extensively on the Holocaust and anti-Semitism. His many books include “Harvest of Hate: The Nazi Program for the Destruction of Jews in Europe” and “Aryan Myth: A History of Racist and Nationalist Ideas in Europe.” He helped establish the Centre de Documentation Juive in 1943.

— University of Pennsylvania Press

Originally published on October 16, 2003