Trials of the Diaspora: A History of Anti-Semitism in England

Overview

The long and troubling history of anti-Semitism in England, from the middle ages to the twenty-first century. Sure to provoke much comment and debate, Trials of the Diaspora serves as a timely reminder that English culture has been in no way immune to anti-Semitism-and in certain ways is still not to this day.

Read More Show Less
... See more details below
Paperback (Reprint)
$24.07
BN.com price
(Save 13%)$27.95 List Price
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (22) from $1.99   
  • New (11) from $10.01   
  • Used (11) from $1.99   
Trials of the Diaspora: A History of Anti-Semitism in England

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK Study

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$10.49
BN.com price
(Save 44%)$18.99 List Price

Overview

The long and troubling history of anti-Semitism in England, from the middle ages to the twenty-first century. Sure to provoke much comment and debate, Trials of the Diaspora serves as a timely reminder that English culture has been in no way immune to anti-Semitism-and in certain ways is still not to this day.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Harold Bloom
Anthony Julius has written a strong, somber book on an appalling subject…With a training both literary and legal, Julius is well prepared for the immensity of his task. He is a truth-teller, and authentic enough to stand against the English literary and academic establishment…I am grateful to Julius for his calm balance, and I do not ask him to be Philip Roth rather than himself.
—The New York Times
The Barnes & Noble Review

At 811 pages, which includes 194 pages of notes, the sheer heft of Trials of the Diaspora: A History of Anti-Semitism in England might easily provoke some prospective readers into secretly waiting for a less monumental history, perhaps British Jew-Baiting for Dummies.

I say this not to diminish the commitment, clarity, or scholarship of Anthony Julius's most worthwhile book, but to point out that a work of this kind relies upon a dual but asynchronous investment on the part of author and reader. In this case, the profound nature of the former's contribution is without a doubt; Julius's deep emotional commitment to the subject is a link between his career as a lawyer and writer. As for the matter of the reader's dedication, I don't believe Julius wrote this book with a specific audience in mind, but a specific obligation to discharge.

Trials of the Diaspora is actually a weave of three unequally balanced books. The first is a compressed memoir in the form of a 58-page introduction, and it explains a lot. As Julius diligently notes, "A reader beginning a long book on anti-Semitism is entitled to wonder about the author's own experience of his subject." Given the covalent bonds between author and subject, Julius attempts to establish his objectivity by recognizing his subjectivity.

Thus he begins with a reminiscence of a long-ago train trip in which his father was reluctant to confront a business associate who had displayed a genteel anti-Semitism -- the kind Julius describes as acting "by stealth, by indirection, by tacit understandings and limited exclusions." On the same trip, however, his father showed great courage in confronting some rowdy football fans. It was a paradox that never left him.

Julius goes on to describe his years in Cambridge, the factionalism in the English Department there, and the fact that anti-Semitism "was not on any syllabus." (Did he actually expect such a course?) He describes the backstory of the well-known case in which he defended the writer Deborah Lipstadt against a libel charge brought by holocaust denier David Irving for her book Denying the Holocaust. (Penguin, the publisher, wasn't too happy about the whole mishigas.)

Julius also describes the flurry of anti-Semitism that resulted when he was hired by Princess Diana to represent her in the Divorce of Divorces. Upon his engagement the Telegraph noted that the Prince, "as expected, had chosen the bridge-playing Fiona Shackleton, 39 of Farrer and Co. … One of the country's most respected family law specialists … [she] adopts a conciliatory approach."

Unfortunately, her softly-softly approach is at odds with the more bullish attitude of the Princess's solicitor.

Anthony 'Genius' Julius, 39, is not a divorce lawyer but a specialist in media law….

His background could not be further from the upper-class world inhabited by his opposite number. He is a Jewish intellectual and Labour supporter, and less likely to feel restrained by the considerations of fair play.

The second and by far the longest of the nested books is a remarkably detailed history of English anti-Semitism reaching back to the Middle Ages and continuing till the present -- with some excursions outside British borders. And what a well-organized history it is. Julius's legal mind is unhidden; his chapters are structured like briefs, with crisply stated facts backed up by chains of supporting evidence. There are taxonomies upon taxonomies; rubrics, sub-rubrics, and sub-sub-rubrics are stacked upon each other in a bravura display of historiographic Lego construction.

So in a chapter titled Enmities, Julius lists four kinds of antagonists of the Jews, including "rational" enemies, divided between "involuntary" and "voluntary" ones. In the Defamations chapter, a single kind of defamation, the "blood libel," is broken into six periods. During the medieval epoch, Julius identifies three periods of the Crown's financial dealings with the Jews, beginning in 1070 and ending in 1290. There are five "Moments" of literary anti-Semitism. The characteristics of English fictional Jews "can be grouped under the readings 'fixity,' 'incoherence,' 'elusiveness,' 'alternation,' and 'deliquescence.' And there are several kinds of English anti-Semite intellectuals, ranging from Type A through Type D, with Type B being rangy enough to include a B1 and B2.

Julius never met an organizing principle he doesn't like. He dissects and categorizes anti-Semitism with a pathologist's precision; for him it is a cancer whose virulence is best laid bare through classification. This Container Shop approach to history can be frustratingly formulaic, but Julius's obsessive detail serves two purposes. (There, I've caught it.) The detail bludgeons the reader into submission; English anti-Semitism isn't episodic or expressed with a delicate hand; it's deep, consistent, and isn't just a matter of Jews being "touchy" -- a theme of Julius's.

What's more, the relentlessness serves as a corrective for what has become our current reference system for anti-Semitism, namely the holocaust and the pogroms in Russia and Eastern Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries. In America we have a Fiddler-on-the-Roof-meets-Anne-Frank optic.

As for England, World War II has largely defined our historical view. But Julius wants us to throw off our illusions about the just and sceptered isle of Churchill and Mrs. Minniver. How many people, even well-educated ones, know that "England, last among the countries of Western Europe to receive Jews, was the first to expel them" in 1290? (The Massacre of York in 1190? I won't even go there.)

There are some curious omissions -- there are only eight pages devoted to life in England for the Jews during World War II -- and a bit too much of the book is the top-down view of history; I would have welcomed a bit more of the textured French Annales school, life for English Jews through the everyday lens. But Trials of the Diaspora is a remarkable work of history and it's fair to say that Julius was born to write it.

The third embedded book within Trials of the Diapsora -- constituting the last two chapters -- is by far the most controversial. Titled "Contemporary Secular Anti-Zionists" and "Contemporary Confessional Anti-Zionism," they take the position that over the last forty-or-so years there has emerged what Julius calls "the fourth of the English anti-Semitisms." He writes that, unlike the "old anti-Semitism," this new manifestation "takes Israel and the Zionist project as its collective terms for the Jews"; he believes that the ancient litany of "Jewish usurers, Jewish capitalists, and Jewish communists" has been replaced by the demonization of "Jewish nationalists."

It was in response to these chapters that Harold Bloom described Julius, in a front page New York Times Book Review essay, as "a truth-teller, and authentic enough to stand against the English literary and academic establishment, which essentially opposes the right of the state of Israel to exist, while indulging in the humbuggery that its anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism." The critic James Woods lambasted Bloom in a letter to the Times for "slander and imprecise imputation"; the philosopher Galen Strawson wrote that Bloom displays the same "hysterical generalizations" among other characteristics that make a "virulent anti-Semite"; Leon Wieseltier rose to Bloom's defense in The New Republic, and a certain quadrant of the blogosphere has erupted in ferocious commentary.

It's unfortunate that Julius chose to add these two chapters as a coda to his work of historical analysis. They inject a contemporary and disputatious note that traffic attention from his less tendentious scholarship, and would have been better as a follow-up effort. To be clear, this isn't to say that I am not sympathetic to his point-of-view; there is something undoubtedly unsettling about the glee and unanimity -- and the highly particularized venom -- that characterizes global Israel-bashing.

Cultural histories can be fascinating because their subjects are moving targets, changing as society does; a longitudinal look at the lobster will show its crawl from a signifier of poverty to affluence. The history of anti-Semitism, however, is one of drumming repetition. You don't crack open the laboriously, unrelievedly grim Trials of the Diaspora expecting any change in the narrative.

--Adam Hanft

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199600724
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 6/18/2012
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 912
  • Sales rank: 821,391
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Anthony Julius is Chairman of the London Consortium, a Visiting Professor at Birkbeck College, University of London, and Vice-President of the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund. The author of several books, including T. S. Eliot: Anti-Semitism and Literary Form, he was the defense attorney in the renowned Irving vs. Lipstadt Holocaust denial case, and continues to be active in the fight against anti-Semitic activities.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements ix

Introduction xiii

Part I Contexts

1 Enmities 3

2 Defamations 69

Part II Versions

3 Medieval English Anti-Semitism 105

4 English Literary Anti-Semitism 148

5 Modern English Anti-Semitism 242

6 The Mentality of Modern English Anti-Semitism 348

7 Contemporary Secular Anti-Zionisms 441

8 Contemporary Confessional Anti-Zionisms, and a Conclusion 532

Notes 589

Extract acknowledgements 784

Index 785

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 4, 2010

    A compelling history

    Julius' book is an extraordinarily well researched and written history of Brittish antisemtism. It provides a comprehensive review of the origins of Jew hatred in the Middle Ages and its perpetuation into modern times. Julius is very effective in removing the anti-zionist mask of contemporary anti-semities in the UK, Europe and the muslim world and in exploding myths that are peddled by leftists and fundamentists alike. The book runs over 800 pages but is well organized and accessible to the non-scholar. Reading Julius' opus is rewarding and well worth the effort

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)