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.

Author:Peter Novick
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