The Holocaust in American Life

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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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User Review  - FPdC - LibraryThing

This is an outstanding book about the uses (and abuses) of the Holocaust in American life. The author, an american Jew and professor of history at the University of Chicago, traces the way the murder ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - marialondon - LibraryThing

Before anything else, I'd like to comment on some previous (negative) reviews on this book, which said that it was, among other things, 'trite' and 'boring'. The word 'trite' in particular has been ... Read full review


We Knew in a General Way
If Our Brothers Had Shown More Compassion

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About the author (1999)

Peter Novick is professor emeritus of history at the University of Chicago. He is the author of "The Resistance Versus Vichy" & "That Noble Dream: The 'Objectivity Question' & the American Historical Profession.

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