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Antisemitic Myths

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Antisemitic Myths

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Antisemitic Myths
A Historical and Contemporary Anthology
Edited by Marvin Perry and Frederick M. Schweitzer
Indiana University Press, Bloomington: 2008
ISBN: 978-0-253-21950-3

Reviewed by Anna Dogole - October 20, 2019

In their book, Antisemitism: Myth and Hate from Antiquity to the Present, Marvin Perry and Frederick M. Schweitzer provided a detailed and authoritative history of antisemitism from antiquity to the present day, along with an analysis of various contemporary antisemitic myths. Their second book, Antisemitic Myths: A Historical and Contemporary Anthology, compliments their first book, and it is this second book which is the focus of this review . . .

In Antisemitic Myths the authors have compiled a collection of more than 90 primary source documents dealing with antisemitic myths and history. All the documents are presented in English, or in English translation. For the most part, the material presented in this book consists of excerpts of longer works, but in all cases, these excerpts are exhaustively footnoted so you can identify the source of the document, or excerpt, if desired.

Most important, each document is prefaced with a brief introduction that explains the importance of the document, and which puts the document into a historical context. By doing so, the authors help the reader to better understand the source, period, and importance of each document, and how each document relates to other events occurring at the time that the document was written. In addition, the authors have included in-text notes that further elucidate the information presented in the documents.

The documents in this anthology are drawn from medieval, early modern, modern, and contemporary sources. Within each time period, the documents are organized thematically, covering topics such as the Spanish Inquisition, Luther and the Jews, German Volkish antisemitism, the Jews in Nazi Wartime Propaganda, antisemitism in the Soviet Union, Muslim antisemitism, and much, much more.

Each document is followed by a set of endnotes that will allow readers to further explore the topic under discussion. As well, the book includes a bibliography that can be used as a guide for further study into the individual topics discussed in this book, as well as for the general study of antisemitism.

Antisemitic Myths is essential reading for anyone with an interest in antisemitism. The book is ideal for use in a classroom setting, from high school onward, where the use of primary source material is used as a teaching medium. It is also ideal for use as a supplemental reading or research text in history classes dealing with antisemitism, Jewish history, World War II, and many other topics. Antisemitic Myths is also an excellent companion book to read along with Antisemitism: Myth and Hate from Antiquity to the Present.

From general readers to scholars, Antisemitic Myths provides readers with a solid grounding in the principle myths that have helped to propagate antisemitism. At the same time, reading through these documents, in chronological order (as they are presented), will help the reader understand the history and development of antisemitic myths and how they have altered over time to incorporate new ideas and how they have been adapted to meet the needs and feelings of modern antisemites. The end result is a compelling, and at times gut wrenching, look into the world of antisemitic myths, and by extension, into the minds of antisemites . . .


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