Book Review: A History Of The Jews In America

A History Of The Jews In America, by Howard M. Sachar

It appears that the author of this weighty tome believed that anyone who read this book would be likely to view its contents as speaking positively about the state of Jews in America.  This is unfortunately not the case.  In reading this book I was struck by the tension if not contradiction between the author’s belief that he was an unbiased and fair-minded reporter on the legitimacy of the Jews and of the leftist and even socialist perspective within American politics while showing an inveterate hostility to conservative and Orthodox Judaism as well as conservative views in general.  The fact that the author views the New York Times and Washington Post as being truthful and objective sources of truth (both owned by Jewish families, it should be noted, during the time when this book was written), and rejoices in the electoral defeat of populists whose America first appeals would tend to be hostile to Jewish interests suggests that the author treads dangerously close to ground that would justify those views as being in the interests of the United States as a whole, which is surely not what the author would wish or intend.  If one reads this book as a foe of the left, this book comes off rather poorly.

As one might expect from a book by someone who is deeply committed to leftist causes, this book is tediously biased in several fashions.  For one, the book is heavily slanted towards more contemporary history as opposed to earlier history.  By the end of the third chapter of the book the author has already covered up to the late 19th century, leaving more than 800 pages of the book to talk about the period between the end of the nineteenth and the end of the twentieth centuries.  This extreme slant means that the beginnings of the Jewish presence in America is nearly ignored and glossed over very rapidly while the less interesting and more tedious aspects of the Jewish experience in America are covered in excruciating if not nauseating detail.  The book would have been immensely more enjoyable had the proportions been reversed and we read the glowing accounts of the building of the first Jewish synagogues and communities in the United States and were able to rapidly pass over leftist plays and Hollywood and sordid arms deals and espionage in support of Israel and the fears that the Jews might lose their influence over the Democratic party because of the rising anti-semitism of blacks.

The real severe problem with this book is that the author is unaware that he might be writing to people who are less than impressed with the institutional power that has been gained by a Jewish establishment that works on nepotistic grounds, that has a hostility to Christian morality and American nationalism but that demonstrates a commitment to Jewish nationalism despite a fervent desire to enjoy the wealth that they can gain by living in America, that has long been associated with a high degree of criminality, and that has a low degree of fervor when it comes to obeying the biblical law or in supporting the greater influence of the Bible upon American society as a whole.  This book is written for Jewish insiders as a way of getting them to feel good about themselves but to remain vigilant about the threats to the well-being of the deeply divided Jewish people in this nation, but when a book like this is read by someone who is hostile to the politics of the left and who has not benefited from the clubby atmosphere of the Jewish establishment, this book tends to lend support to the harsh criticism that Jewish influence often receives, though this may reflect the author’s tendency to try to bolster Jewish leftist self-esteem by talking up the importance of Jews in America.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in American History, Book Reviews, History and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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