5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Bill R. Moore
- Published on Amazon.com
"Concerning the Jews" is one of Mark Twain's most notable non-fiction works and a landmark in writing about Jews, especially among non-Jews. As with African Americans, Twain's comments are sadly often taken out of context to make him seem anti-Semitic, but "Concerning" undeniably shows that he was a passionate Jewish defender. That said, he predicted that the article would please no one, which was essentially true. As always, Twain was blunt and honest, saying what he thought was good and bad about Jews; the remarkable thing is not that he listed some of the latter, but that the former far outweigh them. Very few people were willing to defend Jews at the turn of the twentieth century - especially publicly, especially among the famous. Twain was, and knowledgeable Jews have never forgotten it. He details their sad history of persecution and suggests reasons for it - ones that many on both sides are unwilling to admit but that are very plausibly argued. Twain then makes suggestions for improvement and closes with a stirring finale of praise. He acknowledges the ill treatment of Jews but is optimistic about change; needless to say, the Holocaust crushed this within half a century. "Concerning" remains valuable even so and should be read by all Jews and anyone interested in them as well as anyone wanting insight into the persistent xenophobia of prejudice and xenophobia. We should all remember Twain's words: "All that I care to know is that a man is a human being - that is enough for me; he can't be any worse."
The fact that the essay is available in collections makes a standalone hard to justify, but Twain fans and many others should get "Concerning" in some form.