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Trials of the Diaspora: A History of Anti-Semitism in England Hardcover – 25 Feb 2010


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 880 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford; First Edition edition (25 Feb 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199297053
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199297054
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 5.3 x 16.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 122,034 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

His book 'Trials of the Diaspora' is magisterial...No Judaica library should be without it. (Jeremy Rosen, Jewish Telegraph)

A torrent of primary-source material. (Diarmaid MacCulloch, London Review of Books)

Julius...is nothing if not a superb rhetorician. (Diarmaid MacCulloch, London Review of Books)

Anthony Julius' erudite and scholarly work will prove indispensable in the struggle against this form of racial prejudice. (David Harounoff, Tribune Magazine)

A strong, sombre book on an appalling subject. (Harold Bloom, New York Review of Books)

Julius is a truth-teller...I am grateful for his calm balance...[and his] extraordinary moral strength. (Harold Bloom, New York Review of Books)

Luminous and comprehensive history. (Scholars for Peace in the Middle East)

A scholarly and judicious history of Britannia's version of that most lethal form of nonsense called antisemitism.

No thoughtful person who wants to have an opinion about anything Jewish...can avoid reading this book. (David Cesa rni, BBC History Magazine)

Excellent book. (Jonathan Wright, The Tablet)

An elegantly written, well-researched survey of England's anti-sematic urges...masterful...poignant, insightful stuff. (Jonathan Wright, The Tablet)

A magisterial work about the history of anti-Semitism in Britain that will surely have a major impact and be widely discussed. (William Rubinstein, Standpoint)

'Trials of the Diaspora' reveals him to be an historian of great ability who has produced a magisterial work. (William Rubenstein, Standpoint)

Wonderful... immensely learned... observant and shrewd. (Joanathan Sumpton, Spectator)

An excellent autobiographical essay in which Julius recalls the distasteful reaction to his appointment as lawyer to Diana. (Jonathan Beckman, New Statesman)

Julius writes with unrivalled authority. (James Shapiro, Financial Times)

This is an essential history and so it's fortunate it has been written by a man with the extraordinary fluency, staggering erudition, scholarly integrity, intellectual acumen, and moral discernment of Anthony Julius. (Philip Roth)

Part history of an irrational hatred, part forensic analysis of a sophistical lie, part literary criticism - for, as Anthony Julius shows, anti-Semitism is a species of fantastical literature, all figure of speech, misquotation and fancy - this exhilarating work nails a defamation which to humanity's discredit, persists to this hour. Indispensible. (Howard Jacobson)

Anthony Julius has produced a brilliant and readable account of a shameful stain on the national reputation. The best dissection I've seen of Britain's oldest and least acknowledged racial prejudice. (Nick Cohen)

Fiercely relevant history (Ihsan Taylor, New York Times)

is a well-organized and well-written book ... Anthony Julius has provided important material for future debate on both the historical and the ongoing relationship of English people to the Jews. (Frank Felsenstein, Jewish Quarterly Review)

About the Author

Anthony Julius is Deputy Chairman of the commercial law firm Mishcon de Reya, specializing in litigation law. He is also 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

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Customer Reviews

2.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Despite mostly 'gushing' tributes from fellow Jews in Amazon's Review section, this is a poor book. I read all 588 pages closely (and made a précis), finding it a magnum opus with well-researched informative material that goes far beyond the sub-title: A History of anti-Semitism in England. The author signs off: 'This is my second book on the subject and I intend it to be my last'.

Written by a lawyer, throughout there is little about the economic dimension, so important in perceptions of Jews making a living 'abroad' (leading to anti-Semitism?), and the work invites SOAS Professor Gilbert Achcar's (2010) observation about a genre tending to 'a compilation of cliches', designed to reassure Jewish readers, with long-established myths and subjective opinions.

Julius asks from afar (I lived in the region for years) why the Israeli/Palestinian armed conflict out of so many, 'receives so much attention...Levant is not that important'. It is the one caused by the decisions of outsiders (mostly English), involving a settler group fleeing persecution, and the only state with Europeans in which the political rights of the native population have yet to be restored.

There is a marled tendency to intemperance: he dismisses conspiracy theories as 'notoriously the province of cranks...of political moronism'. He says of the inventive Israeli musician Gilad Atzmon (who I have talked with) that he exhibits 'incontinent, malicious verbalising which has no connection to real thought'. The usual character assassination technique of confrontational libel lawyers.

There are errors which are surprising in a book subjected to OUP editorial rigour: the 7/7 bombings were in 2005 not 2006; the ancient Israeli's 'cousins' the Phoenicians/Carthaginians did practice child sacrifice (not 'fantastic rumours', but archaeologically confirmed); the Nazis did not 'destroy the Yiddish speaking NATION', for Jews were always too diverse and religiously divided.
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31 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Mr. D. M. Blyth on 13 Mar 2010
Format: Hardcover
My argument is with the publishers and the reviewers rather than the author. Although this book is well-researched it is not, by any means 'readable' in the sense that it flows. More than 20% of the book is taken up with notes referenced in the main body of the text. Every one is numbered in the text, a constant distraction to the eye and few are worth following up immediately. This is all very good and commendable academic practice but it does not make the book 'readable'. It is a book for studying. Although the book divides the history into four broad sections, material and sources are cross-referenced over all four ("I will deal with this in chapter 6....") making the arguments difficult to follow without recourse to post-it notes, pencil marks in the margin or copious personal note-taking. In the end, this book is an academic volume aimed at those who have the time and skill to study it in depth and discuss it with others. It is not for the general reader, even one with a very high level of education.
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32 of 49 people found the following review helpful By R. A. Lloyd-Jones on 9 April 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An enormously wide-ranging work with some 800 pages of text and extensive footnotes. After a long introduction which includes a completely irrelevant but spot-on analysis of the lawyer Anthony Julius' most famous client, Princess Diana, the book is divided into three parts. Part 1 describes Medieval English anti-Semitism which set many precedents subsequently employed by the nazis, notably that of state authorities endorsing, and in the case of the Church, encouraging, popular prejudice and illegal violence against Jews. After several bestial incidents, this culminated in the official expulsion, by royal proclamation, of all Jews from England in 1290. Part 2 describes literary anti-Semitism, the most important examples of which come from two of the greatest English writers, Shakespeare and Dickens. Shylock and Fagin are particularly sinister because they immortalise the crude Jewish stereotype, a bearded, money-grubbing, skull-capped schemer who wants to exploit Christian blood and children. The third part of the book shows how the English tradition of negativity towards Jews continues to this day in the form of anti-Israeli activity, an extremely worrying development. Thus the Medieval 'blood libel' which grotesquely suggested that Jews murdered Christian children to make matzos for Passover has a direct connection with middle class, supposedly educated, British people today disrupting a Jerusalem String Quartet performance because they don't like what the Israeli Air Force is doing in Gaza.

Although Julius had made a study of English literary anti-Semitism as a student at University, it is in describing this that his theme becomes weakest. He is mistaken, for example, in saying that Chaucer's (blood libel) Prioress' Tale is followed by an 'Arthurian tale told by the Wife of Bath'.
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29 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Ben Akiva on 28 Mar 2010
Format: Hardcover
English antisemitism is unique. It has given rise to no mass movements, as in Continental Europe, and has not prevented the establishment of a successful Jewish community in England. According to Anthony Julius, we must look carefully at English antisemitisms rather than regard there as being one type. In this penetrating analysis, he dissects the specific qualities of English antisemitism and how it has impacted on the perception and acceptance of Jews in England. The book commences with a history of the mediaeval period, culminating in the expulsion of the Jews in 1290. During this period the major motivating ideology was of Christian antisemitism. He demonstrates incisively in successive chapters how these tropes, or common themes, penetrated English literature and ideology even following the readmission of the Jews under Cromwell. The ability of basic antisemitism to disguise itself in different masks, in different periods, is demonstrated specifically by examples of the use of blood-libel imagery through journalism, plays, novels and polemics. Remarkably, Julius clearly demonstrates the persistence of this lethal libel to the present day, where it becomes fused to analyses of the Israel/Palestinian conflict. In the final section of the book the persistence of ancient prejudice is shown to be able to adapt itself in new and potentially dangerous ways in demonisation of Israel and its delegitimisation.
Anthony Julius's book is a nuanced, witty and clear history of this subject. Without being alarmist he shows just how important English antisemitism is, despite its apparent lack of success, and why the recent upsurge is important. This will become the standard work on the subject.
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