A prizewinning historian offers a groundbreaking look at the changing fortunes of Holocaust memory in America and provocatively questions the prominent role it now plays in our political and cultural life. In recent years the Holocaust has become an important and prominent symbol in American life. It is a cornerstone of how Jews understand themselves and would have others understand them as well as a moral reference point for all Americans, embodied by Washington's Holocaust Museum, now a national shrine and the repository of lessons all must learn. While ordinarily historical memories are most vivid in the immediate aftermath of events and fade with the passage of time, in the case of the Holocaust the reverse has been true. During the decades following World War II the Holocaust was not much talked about -- even by American Jews. Historian Peter Novick explores with piercing insight the reasons for this long silence, describing the impact of new cold war alliances and Jews' desire not to be seen by their fellow Americans as victims. He recounts the events and decisions that in later decades moved the Holocaust from the margins of American life to the center, including the desire of Jews to define what made them distinctive and the search for moral ground on which increasingly divided Americans could stand. What, Novick boldly asks, are the costs -- for Jews and for all Americans -- of making the Holocaust a defining symbol? Are there really "lessons of the Holocaust" as many presume? A path-breaking book, THE HOLOCAUST IN AMERICAN LIFE is sure to be widely discussed and hotly debated.
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In the first decades following World War II, Americans rarely discussed the Holocaust. Now, remembering the Holocaust has become a fundamental part of Jewish identity; gentiles, too, view the Holocaust as a touchstone of moral solemnity. In The Holocaust and American Life, Peter Novick asks why, and his answers are both sensible and shocking. He explains the immediate postwar silence about the Holocaust by reviewing the basics of cold war politics: just after the liberation of the concentration camps, Americans were called upon to sympathize with "gallant Berliners" who resisted the Soviets and built a wall against Communism--an "enormous shift from one set of alignments to another," Novick notes. Novick then leads readers through the series of events that brought the Holocaust to the forefront of American consciousness--the trial of Adolph Eichmann, the Six-Day War, the Carter administration's Israel policy, and the construction of the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C.
Among Novick's most controversial ideas is his assertion that American Jews spoke softly of the Holocaust at first because they didn't want to be seen as victims; later, Jews decided that victim status would work in their best political interest. Or, as Novick puts it, "Jews were intent on permanent possession of the gold medal in the Victimization Olympics." The Holocaust in American Life is as carefully researched and argued as it is polemical and probing. Novick does not suffer Holocaust deniers lightly, and he is empathic toward victims and survivors, but he has no tolerance for false sentiment. One wishes that more people would ask, as Novick does, what kind of a country would spend millions of dollars on a museum honoring European Jewish Holocaust victims instead of a monument to its own shameful history of black slavery. --Michael Joseph GrossAbout the Author:
Peter Novick is professor of history at the University of Chicago. He is the author of The Resistance Versus Vichy and That Noble Dream: The Objectivity Question and the American Historical Profession, which won the American Historical Association's prize for the best book of the year in American history.
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Buchbeschreibung Houghton Mifflin, 1999. Hardcover. Buchzustand: New. Buchnummer des Verkäufers DADAX0395840090
Buchbeschreibung Houghton Mifflin, 1999. Hardcover. Buchzustand: New. book. Buchnummer des Verkäufers M0395840090
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