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The Fatal Embrace: Jews and the State / Edition 2

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In this provocative book, Benjamin Ginsberg examines the cycle of Jewish success and anti-Semitic attack throughout the history of the Diaspora, with a concentrated focus on the "special case" of America. For Ginsberg, the essential issue is not anti-Jewish feeling, but the conditions under which such sentiment is likely to be used in the political arena. The Fatal Embrace identifies the political dynamics that, historically, have set the stage for the persecution of Jews.

Anti-Semitism is on the rise. And organized anti-Semitism is moving from the fringes to the center of public life. Now Ginsberg puts the new anti-Jew feelings under the powerful microscope of history and documents the uses of organized anti-Semitism on the national political agenda.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Ginsberg's inquiry into the rise of anti-Semitism in the United States is sensitive, unflinching and lucid. He predicts that the ``unthinkable'' could happen--a political alliance of radical populists and respected conservatives who make vigorous use of virulent anti-Semitic themes to attack liberal Democrats. A Johns Hopkins political science professor, Ginsberg bases this conclusion on a broad analysis of Jews' shifting relationship to state power, from the Civil War through the New Deal to the collapse of the Jewish/Republican alliance as the Bush administration downgraded the importance of the state of Israel in U.S. foreign policy. The opening chapter shows how Jews have played key roles throughout history in building liberal, absolutist, monarchist and socialist regimes, offering their services and skills in exchange for protection and opportunity--a sometimes ``fatal embrace'' that, in Ginsberg's analysis, often provokes organized anti-Semitism. (Sept.)
Library Journal
According to Ginsberg (political science, Johns Hopkins), the state has been both a protector and betrayer of the Jews in modern times. Ginsberg claims that Jews have traditionally measured their progress in American society by the degree to which they have been heeded and accepted by the governing powers. The Jews have achieved their greatest success under liberal administrations. But with the questioning of liberalism, the political influence of the Jews has waned, and currents of anti-Semitism seem to be surfacing more frequently. All in all, Ginsberg's book is a troubling one. Some will find his arguments a little shaky, and even Jewish readers will disagree on the degree of danger. Libraries with strong current affairs sections will want to add this book.-- Paul Kaplan, Dakota Cty. Lib., Eagan, Minn.
Surveys the political history of Jews from the Civil War to the 1992 presidential election, tracing the ebb and flow of political anti- Semitism in the US, with particular attention given to understanding the political dynamics that historically have set the stage for the persecution of Jews. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
George Robinson
A challenging and disturbing book. Ginsberg's grasp of historical precedent is impressive and the final import of his message is daunting.
Washington Post Book Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226296661
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/1999
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 293
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Benjamin Ginsberg is director of the Washington Center for the Study of American Government and the David Bernstein Professor of Political Science at the Johns Hopkins University. Among his other books are The Captive Public; American Government: Freedom and Power; and Politics by Other Means.
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Table of Contents

1: The Jews: Social Marginality and the Fatal Embrace of the State
2: Jews, State Building, and Anti-Semitism in Nineteenth-Century America
3: Jews and the American Liberal State: From New Deal to New Politics
4: Blacks and Jews: Anti-Semitism and Interdependence
5: The Rise and Fall of the Republican-Jewish Alliance
6: Another Fatal Embrace?
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