People Love Dead Jews: Reports from a Haunted Present

Norton. Sept. 2021. 272p. ISBN 9780393531565. $25.95. SOC SCI
Horn, a scholar of comparative literature and a novelist in her own right (Eternal Life), has collected and revised her previously published articles and essays about ways in which Jews have been portrayed, perceived, and mythologized throughout world history. Topics range from the international embrace of Anne Frank, in “Everyone’s (Second) Favorite Dead Jew,” to the portrayal of Jews in Western literature (“Fictional Dead Jews,” “Commuting with Shylock”); for these subjects, Horn draws on her expertise in Jewish literature. Horn will engage readers as she uncovers the nearly forgotten story of American journalist Varian Fry, who ran a Holocaust rescue network in France during World War II (“On Rescuing Jews and Others”), and unpacks common public responses to “Dead American Jews” in an essay that reflects on the 2018 shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. The whole of Horn’s book is much more than the sum of its parts, amounting to an interdisciplinary study of the pervasiveness of antisemitism in the United States and around the world.
VERDICT A moving, meditative, well-written book that will be of profound interest to anyone concerned with Jewry and Jewish literature. Horn’s writing is personable and engaging from start to finish
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