Amid the recent upsurge of anti-Semi­tism, we asked promi­nent authors of recent or forth­com­ing non­fic­tion to rec­om­mend a book for this list. The breadth of top­ics and time peri­ods cov­ered by the works below attests to the insid­i­ous­ness of anti-Semi­tism, but also to the impres­sive range of schol­ar­ship devot­ed to exam­in­ing and over­com­ing it. Even the spelling of anti-Semitism”/“antisemitism” is cur­rent­ly under scruti­ny; to reflect this, the rec­om­menders’ cho­sen spellings of the word have been left intact.

Hen­ry Ford’s War on Jews and the Legal Bat­tle Against Hate Speech by Vic­to­ria Sak­er Woeste

We live in a new era of anti­se­mit­ic hate speech and we have no idea what to do about it. Should Jew­ish orga­ni­za­tions police hate speech in the media and sue anti­semites? Or does that only fan the flames of anti­semitism and sti­fle free expres­sion? One place to look for answers is in legal his­to­ri­an Vic­to­ria Sak­er Woeste’s won­der­ful 2012 book, Hen­ry Ford’s War on Jews and the Legal Bat­tle Against Hate Speech. Woeste deft­ly recon­structs the first major episode of anti­se­mit­ic hate speech in Amer­i­can soci­ety, the pub­li­ca­tion of Hen­ry Ford’s news­pa­per, The Dear­born Inde­pen­dent, and how Jew­ish lawyers debat­ed the prop­er way to com­bat it.

—James Loef­fler, author of Root­ed Cos­mopoli­tans: Jews and Human Rights in the Twen­ti­eth Cen­tu­ry (2018)

Con­tem­po­rary Left Anti­semitism by David Hirsh

This is an inci­sive, hard-hit­ting, and very read­able exam­i­na­tion of anti­semitism com­ing from the left. Hirsh’s focus is pri­mar­i­ly on Britain and the Labour par­ty. It is writ­ten with a scholar’s insight and bal­ance and with a tinge of sad­ness as Hirsh, a long­time Labour sup­port­er, pon­ders what has hap­pened to the par­ty that has been his polit­i­cal home for all his adult life.

—Deb­o­rah E. Lip­stadt, author of Anti­semitism: Here and Now (2019)

A Con­ve­nient Hatred: The His­to­ry of Anti­semitism by Phyl­lis Goldstein

Any book that starts with a slaugh­ter of Jews in ancient Alexan­dria is not going to be a light, easy read. But as I was writ­ing my most recent book, Goldstein’s sweep­ing com­pendi­um became my ground­ing. The book is exhaus­tive; I can’t imag­ine too many flare-ups of the ancient hate missed her gaze. But in read­ing the sweep of anti-Semi­tism in ancient to mod­ern his­to­ry, I was able to put this moment into per­spec­tive — for bet­ter, and, sad­ly, for worse as well.

—Jonathan Weis­man, author of (((Semi­tism))): Being Jew­ish in Amer­i­ca in the Age of Trump (2018)

Jews, Judaism and Anti-Judaism: Read­ing the New Tes­ta­ment After the Holo­caust edit­ed by Paula Fredrik­sen and Adele Reinhartz

One of the ear­li­est and most endur­ing sources of anti­semitism is the inter­pre­ta­tion of the New Tes­ta­ment; works like the Gospel of John con­tin­ue to play a role in fos­ter­ing mis­un­der­stand­ing and sus­pi­cion of Jews today. In Jews, Judaism and Anti-Judaism, two lead­ing schol­ars of ear­ly Chris­tian­i­ty aim to help read­ers bet­ter under­stand some of the key canon­i­cal texts that have long fueled Chris­t­ian hos­til­i­ty to Jews and Judaism. This is by no means the only book to address the role of the New Tes­ta­ment in the his­to­ry of anti­semitism. What dis­tin­guish­es it is the edi­tors’ effort to include a range of diver­gent schol­ar­ly per­spec­tives — in addi­tion to their own essays, the vol­ume includes con­tri­bu­tions by three oth­er major author­i­ties in the field, E. P. Sanders, John Gager, and Amy-Jill Levine, along with a bib­li­og­ra­phy of addi­tion­al read­ings. Slim and acces­si­ble, the book is a good entry point for those wish­ing to know more about the begin­nings of Chris­t­ian hos­til­i­ty to Jews, and makes a case for deep­er his­tor­i­cal under­stand­ing of the New Tes­ta­ment as the best way to over­come its role as a cat­a­lyst for Chris­t­ian anti-Judaism.

—Steven Weitz­man, author of The Ori­gin of the Jews: The Quest for Roots in a Root­less Age (2017)

On Mod­ern Jew­ish Pol­i­tics by Ezra Mendelsohn 

This book explores the dif­fer­ent approach­es tak­en by East Euro­pean and Amer­i­can Jews toward anti-Semi­tism in the ear­ly twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry. Writ­ing in a live­ly style full of telling anec­dotes, Mendel­sohn divides Jew­ish polit­i­cal groups into inte­gra­tionists, who believed anti-Semi­tism was a man­age­able prob­lem; and separatists/​nationalists, who believed it was not. The rub was with Jew­ish social­ist move­ments, which had a foot in both camps. An added ben­e­fit is Mendelsohn’s com­par­i­son with ear­ly twen­ti­eth-cen­tu­ry African Amer­i­can politics.

—David E. Fish­man, author of The Book Smug­glers: Par­ti­sans, Poets, and the Race to Save Jew­ish Trea­sures from the Nazis (2017)

War­rant for Geno­cide: The Myth of the Jew­ish World Con­spir­a­cy and the Pro­to­cols of the Elders of Zion by Nor­man Cohn 

Orig­i­nal­ly pub­lished in 1967 and reis­sued sev­er­al times, this is a clas­sic his­to­ri­og­ra­phy of anti­semitism. It traces the ori­gins of one of the most infa­mous and dan­ger­ous books of the twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry, the Pro­to­cols of the Elders of Zion,which claimed the exis­tence of a Jew­ish con­spir­a­cy to dom­i­nate the world. Despite being a demon­strat­ed forgery, Pro­to­cols was used to jus­ti­fy anti-Jew­ish per­se­cu­tion — includ­ing the Holo­caust. Cohn iden­ti­fies a num­ber of polit­i­cal and lit­er­ary texts that were used to build this nar­ra­tive of a secret design of world con­quest and dom­i­na­tion by Jews. Although Pro­to­cols was most like­ly draft­ed at the begin­ning of the last cen­tu­ry in czarist Rus­sia, sev­er­al of the works that inspired them were French; at the turn of the twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry, France was, in fact, one of the head­quar­ters of mod­ern polit­i­cal anti­semitism (as exem­pli­fied by the Drey­fus affair). In an age of fake news, War­rant for Geno­cide shows how false anti-Jew­ish accu­sa­tions were built and spread through an ambigu­ous and fright­en­ing text, which became the jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for hatred and mur­der­ous violence.

—Simon Levis Sul­lam, author of The Ital­ian Exe­cu­tion­ers: The Geno­cide of the Jews of Italy (2018)

When Chris­tians Were Jews: The First Gen­er­a­tion by Paula Fredriksen

Increas­ing recog­ni­tion that Jesus was a Jew and should be under­stood with­in the his­to­ry of Judaism has played a major role in tack­ling Chris­t­ian anti­semitism over recent decades. Still, few Chris­tians are ful­ly aware of the Jew­ish­ness of Paul and most oth­ers in the ear­ly Church. With empa­thy and schol­ar­ly pre­ci­sion, Fredrik­sen tells the grip­ping sto­ry of the ear­ly Jew­ish fol­low­ers of Jesus, trac­ing their chang­ing per­spec­tives as they await­ed the end-time, and as events unfold­ed in ways they did not anticipate.

—Mar­tin Good­man, author of A His­to­ry of Judaism (2018)