Covering the story of prejudice against Jews from the time of Christ through the rise of Nazi Germany, The History of Anti-Semitism presents in elegant and thoughtful language a balanced, careful assessment of this egregious human failing that is nearly ubiquitous in the history of Europe.
From Voltaire to Wagner reviews the period of the European Enlightenment in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries when anti-Semitism gradually stopped being an official state policy in most countries. Highlighting the emancipation of Jews as it spread across Europe, Poliakov shows how philosophers, statesmen, and some theologians became concerned with civil rights, yet the anti-Semitic beliefs of many highly regarded and influential persons remained a major roadblock to true equality and justice. The volume ends with the development of racial anti-Semitic theories bound up in the emerging modern sciences.
Leon 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.
"Poliakov has demonstrated brilliantly how widely and deeply versed he is in his subject."—Economist
"Léon Poliakov's work on antisemitism is of enormous importance. As a work of scholarship it is almost without peer. One could have imagined that Poliakov's study might have given a long overdue burial to the longest hatred. Sadly-tragically-it has taken on a new urgency in our time as the images and issues have been resurrected at the beginning of the 21st century."—Michael Berenbaum, Director, Sigi Ziering Institute
"Highly recommended without exception."—Choice
"Poliakov has shown that anti-Semitism is no chance phenomenon but an emanation of European culture."—Times Literary Supplement