The best books on antisemitism

Who picked these books? Meet our 45 experts.

45 authors created a book list connected to antisemitism, and here are their favorite antisemitism books.
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What type of antisemitism book?


Constantine's Sword

By James Christopher Carroll,

Book cover of Constantine's Sword: The Church and the Jews, A History

Richard E. Rubenstein Author Of When Jesus Became God: The Struggle to Define Christianity During the Last Days of Rome

From the list on Jesus and theological battles of early Christians.

Who am I?

I have been interested for years in the causes and dynamics of religious violence, since to work towards resolving conflicts involving religious faith, one needs to understand them as more than hair-splitting arguments between opposed schools of fanatics. The door to this project opened wide in Malta, where I spent six months teaching under a brilliant Catholic priest who was also a sociologist and an expert on Christian history. Father Joe steered me toward the books I needed to consult. More important, he understood that faith and reason should not be considered opposites, and that debating fundamental concepts is essential to the moral and spiritual health of a religious organization.

Richard's book list on Jesus and theological battles of early Christians

Discover why each book is one of Richard's favorite books.

Why did Richard love this book?

In Constantine’s Sword: The Church and the Jews, James Carroll, a former Catholic priest turned journalist and novelist, delivers a powerful indictment of the politicized religion that from the time of Constantine the Great persecuted heretics, non-Romans, and, most of all, Jews. Carroll’s historical account is colorful and accurate, but what this book mostly does is exorcise a demon that plagued the author personally for years: his shared responsibility as a Catholic believer and official for an anti-Semitic tradition that helped generate the Holocaust. This is a stirring job of writing that looks forward to Carroll’s later work as a novelist, including his lovely take on the story of  Abelard and Heloise, The Cloister (Anchor, 2019).     

By James Christopher Carroll,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Constantine's Sword as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A bold and moving book tracing the two-thousand-year course of the Church's battle against Judaism by National Book Award–winning author James Carroll.

More than a chronicle of religion, this dark history is the central tragedy of Western civilization. The Church’s failure to protest the Holocaust—the infamous “silence” of Pius XII—is only part of the story: the death camps, Carroll shows, are the culmination of a long, entrenched tradition of anti-Judaism. From Gospel accounts of the death of Jesus on the cross, to Constantine’s transformation of the cross into a sword, to the rise of blood libels, scapegoating, and modern anti-Semitism,…

Book cover of Why? Explaining the Holocaust

Richard N. Lutjens Jr. Author Of Submerged on the Surface: The Not-So-Hidden Jews of Nazi Berlin, 1941–1945

From the list on the Holocaust and how humanity failed.

Who am I?

I’m a German History professor who focuses on the Holocaust, but I’ve been educating myself on the topic since 5th grade, when a friend suggested some children’s literature on the Holocaust. So, I guess this is a topic that has interested me for some thirty years now. I can’t stop asking why, I can’t stop reading, and I can’t stop educating, especially as Holocaust denial and antisemitism are on the rise. History, in general, can teach us so much about who we are and who we have the potential to become. The Holocaust is a prime example of what happens when humanity fails to achieve its potential.  

Richard's book list on the Holocaust and how humanity failed

Discover why each book is one of Richard's favorite books.

Why did Richard love this book?

Even after years of studying the Holocaust, I remain overwhelmed by the enormity of the horrors, and there are still times when I find my faith in humanity wavering and all I can think to ask in anger and confusion is “Why?” I know I’m not alone. Peter Hayes’s masterful book is the result of an entire career centered on asking that very question.  The outcome is an incredibly readable, insightful, and thought-provoking account of the Holocaust that doesn’t shy away from answering the big questions. After reading it, one might still ask “why,” but it won’t be out of frustration, anger, and confusion, but rather out of a desire to keep learning more about one of the greatest catastrophes in the history of humanity.

By Peter Hayes,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Why? Explaining the Holocaust as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Peter Hayes has been teaching Holocaust studies for decades and Why? grows out of the questions he's encountered from his students. Despite the outpouring of books, films, memorials, museums and courses devoted to the subject, a coherent explanation of why such carnage erupted still eludes people. Numerous myths have sprouted, many to console us that things could have gone differently if only some person or entity had acted more bravely or wisely; others cast new blame on favourite or surprising villains or even on historians.

Why? dispels many legends and debunks the most prevalent ones, including the claim that the…

Like Birds in a Cage

By David M. Crump,

Book cover of Like Birds in a Cage: Christian Zionism’s Collusion in Israel’s Oppression of the Palestinian People

Gary M. Burge Author Of Whose Land? Whose Promise? What Christians Are Not Being Told about Israel and the Palestinians

From the list on helping Christians understand Israel and Palestine.

Who am I?

I'm a professor of New Testament theology who has served in a variety of Christian settings in higher education. My introduction to the world of the Middle East came in the 1970s when I spent a year in Beirut, Lebanon, at the American University. Here I studied Arabic, Islam, and regional politics—and unexpectedly had a front-row seat during the Lebanese civil war. After I completed a PhD in theology and began my career, I returned to the region many times. It was my frequent trips to Israel/Palestine that caught my attention. I’ve led countless student trips to this region and participated in theology conferences. But it's the puzzle of Israel-Palestine that always draws me back.

Gary's book list on helping Christians understand Israel and Palestine

Discover why each book is one of Gary's favorite books.

Why did Gary love this book?

Crump was a Christian theologian (Calvin University) for many years whose passion for justice took him to Israel/Palestine on numerous occasions. He not only studied the issues surrounding this conflict, but he immersed himself, living in a refugee camp during some of Israel’s most severe periods of occupation. But behind America’s support for Israel is often a less-understood set of doctrines called Christian Zionism. This book is the premier explanation of this movement and is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand why the American church sends millions of dollars to Israel every year.

By David M. Crump,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Like Birds in a Cage as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When Christians collude in crimes against humanity, they betray their citizenship in the kingdom of God, demonstrating that Christ's Lordship does not rule over every area of their lives. The popular ideology known as Christian Zionism is a prime enabler of such widespread discipleship--failure in western Christianity. As the state of Israel continues to violate international law with colonial settlement in lands captured by warfare, legalized racial discrimination, and the creation of what many have called "the world's largest open-air prison" in Gaza, Christian Zionists continue their unqualified support for Zionist Israel. Though Israel advertises itself as "the only democracy…


By Arthur Miller,

Book cover of Focus

Daniel Damiano Author Of Graphic Nature

From the list on exploring solitary characters.

Who am I?

As both a playwright and novelist, I tend to gravitate to complex characters with an internal struggle. Graphic Nature, my second novel, touches upon a particular character, Edmond de Capitoir, who while considering himself a well-meaning member of society, has kept himself at arm’s length from life in many ways – not the least of which is due to his commitment to his profession as an executioner in 1913 France. Much of the work I've recommended touches upon these similar protagonists who are somehow emotionally closed off and perhaps have developed a certain guilt about their actions by what they experience through the course of these stories – even a need for love.

Daniel's book list on exploring solitary characters

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Why did Daniel love this book?

Focus was the sole novel written by acclaimed playwright Arthur Miller. And while Miller would go on to be known primarily as a dramatist, Focus is an exceptional novel with a timely and engaging premise. 

The protagonist is a somewhat introverted man (Lawrence Newman) who is moderately successful in his field, working in New York City, while residing in Queens. Set in 1945, Focus is set during a particular time of unrest, especially in New York City, where many are resentful of the U.S.’s involvement in WWII. This resentment comes to a head when Lawrence needs to be fitted for glasses due to his developing near-sightedness. 

Yet as a result of how he looks with his glasses, people start to assume that he is Jewish, even though he is not. This misidentification not only leads to him being the unwilling recipient of anti-semitism but also leads to his own resentment…

By Arthur Miller,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Focus as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Written in 1945, Focus was Arthur Miller's first novel and one of the first books to directly confront American anti-Semitism. It remains as chilling and incisive today as it was at the time of its controversial debut. As World War II draws to a close, anti-Semitism is alive and well in Brooklyn, New York. Here, Newman, an American of English descent, floats through a world of multiethnic neighborhoods indifferent to the racism around him. That is, until he begins to wear glasses that render him "Jewish" in the eyes of others, making him the target of anti-Semitic prosecution. As he…

Book cover of Memoir of a Fascist Childhood: A Boy in Mosley's Britain

Richard Toye Author Of Winston Churchill: A Life in the News

From the list on sidelights on British politics.

Who am I?

Richard Toye is a Professor of Modern History at the University of Exeter. He has published 19 non-fiction books on historical topics and was the co-presenter of the 2018 Channel 4 documentary Churchill's Secret Affair. In 2007 he won the Times Higher Education Young Academic of the Year Award for his book Lloyd George and Churchill: Rivals for Greatness

Richard's book list on sidelights on British politics

Discover why each book is one of Richard's favorite books.

Why did Richard love this book?

This is a through-the-looking-glass journey into the darker side of British politics. Grundy’s parents were violently anti-Semitic and obsessed with Oswald Mosley, and he himself became active in Mosley’s post-war Union Movement, before turning away from Fascism. It is surreal, scary, and hilarious by turns. It also gives important insights into the origins of today’s Far Right politics.

By Trevor Grundy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Memoir of a Fascist Childhood as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For Grundy and his family Oswald Mosley was God, anti-Semitism a creed. His father was a fascist brawler, his mother obsessed with Mosley and Grundy himself dreamed Mosley was his father and grew up to be the youngest member of the Fascist Union Movement to speak at Trafalgar Square. But, after her death, Grundy learnt that his mother was Jewish.

Book cover of How to Find Your Way in the Dark

E.A. Neeves Author Of After You Vanished

From the list on slowburn mysteries for young adults.

Who am I?

Most people know the slowburn romance. A spark flickers at deliberate pace until finally passion ignites. But what about the slowburn mystery? As a reader and a writer, I’m drawn to mysteries that twine as a well-drawn character, usually an amateur sleuth, gets pulled into investigating some eerie event. These mysteries begin with a straightforward query, and as the sleuth digs, the mystery grows. The pace leaves room for well-developed subplots—often, in my favorites, a slowburn romance, too. I love a book where I can settle into the world while the story gathers steam. And in the end, when that slow flame finally blazes… Oh, it’s so worth the wait. 

E.A.'s book list on slowburn mysteries for young adults

Discover why each book is one of E.A.'s favorite books.

Why did E.A. love this book?

Nine years is quite the slowburn. That’s how long it takes Sheldon Horowitz to achieve revenge for his father’s murder in Derek B. Miller’s dark comedy thriller How to Find Your Way in the Dark.

Of course, a lot of other things happen throughout the course of what is arguably more of a coming-of-age novel set against the backdrop of World War II than “YA,” but what hooked me in this story was Sheldon’s tenacity as he grows up, doggedly determined to find out who killed his father and why. The misadventures he gets into as a result, along with his cousins and best friend, are simultaneously bumbling and thrilling.

By Derek B Miller,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How to Find Your Way in the Dark as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?



"[Miller’s] character portraits are indelible, often heartbreaking. At times this novel moved me to tears, the highest possible compliment.”

—New York Times Book Review

With the wit and scope of Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Derek B. Miller tackles his most ambitious epic yet. At its heart is the return of Sheldon Horowitz, the protagonist from Miller’s award-winning first novel, Norwegian by Night, who was lauded by Pulitzer Prize–winning author Richard Russo as “one of the most…

Daniel Deronda

By George Eliot,

Book cover of Daniel Deronda

Paula Marantz Cohen Author Of What Alice Knew: A Most Curious Tale of Henry James and Jack the Ripper

From the list on mysteries with literary motifs or settings.

Who am I?

I am a literary critic and novelist, now serving as a Dean at Drexel University. I’ve written several modernized spin-offs of Jane Austen’s novels and several, including a YA novel, dealing with Shakespeare. What Alice Knew is my only thriller/mystery—and it was a painstaking labor of love to write. (I also wrote a nonfiction book on Hitchcock.) I am a great fan of Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe novels, and the idea for What Alice Knew grew out of my wanting to put the bedridden Alice James (a life-long invalid) in the position of Wolfe, with her brothers Henry and William serving as two versions of the legman, Archie Goodwin. 

Paula's book list on mysteries with literary motifs or settings

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Why did Paula love this book?

This is Eliot’s last novel about an ostensible British aristocrat’s journey to uncovering his real identity. Often referred to as Eliot’s “Jewish novel,” it reflects her unerring ability to empathize with the Other. It is very long but also un-put-downable, with two interwoven plots that complement each other masterfully. It’s at once a conventional 19th-century novel and an entirely original and surprising take on the genre. As a Jew with a love of nineteenth-century British novels, this one spoke to me most powerfully.

By George Eliot,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Daniel Deronda as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As Daniel Deronda opens, Gwendolen Harleth is poised at the roulette-table, prepared to throw away her family fortune. She is observed by Daniel Deronda, a young man groomed in the finest tradition of the English upper-classes. And while Gwendolen loses everything and becomes trapped in an oppressive marriage, Deronda's fortunes take a different turn. After a dramatic encounter with the young Jewish woman Mirah, he becomes involved in a search for her lost family and finds himself drawn into ever-deeper sympathies with Jewish aspirations and identity. 'I meant everything in the book to be related to everything else', wrote George…

Dear Mr. Dickens

By Nancy Churnin, Bethany Stancliffe (illustrator),

Book cover of Dear Mr. Dickens

Aimee Bissonette Author Of Headstrong Hallie!: The Story of Hallie Morse Daggett, the First Female Fire Guard

From the list on brave and extraordinary women.

Who am I?

I am drawn to stories of women who display a fighting spirit, faith in themselves, and the drive to help others. Perhaps this is due to growing up during the women’s rights movement. So many women paved the way for me. Perhaps it was my upbringing. I was raised with six siblings - three brothers and three sisters – and my parents never thought that my sisters and I couldn’t do something just because we were girls. Combine these experiences with the fact that I love history and you can see why I love these stories. Now I get to write and share stories like these with young readers. Lucky me!

Aimee's book list on brave and extraordinary women

Discover why each book is one of Aimee's favorite books.

Why did Aimee love this book?

Some people might not think writing a letter is a tremendously brave act, but it is if you are a young woman who knows in her heart that she needs to challenge a very famous and beloved author – a man even she admires! I had never heard of Eliza Davies and her letters to Charles Dickens and was captivated by the story. Davies wrote to Dickens protesting his stereotypical and harmful depiction of Jewish people in Oliver Twist. And she made a difference! I love how the story teaches kids that they, too, can make a difference and that activism takes many forms, in this case, letter-writing. Added bonus: the book contains quotes from Eliza’s actual letters, which appeals to me immensely as a history geek. 

By Nancy Churnin, Bethany Stancliffe (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Dear Mr. Dickens as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

2021 National Jewish Book Award Winner - Children's Picture Book
2022 Sydney Taylor Book Award Honor for Picture Books
Chicago Public Library Best Informational Books for Younger Readers 2021
The Best Jewish Children's Books of 2021, Tablet Magazine
A Junior Library Guild Selection March 2022
The Best Children's Books of the Year 2022, Bank Street College
2022 First Place―Children's Book Nonfiction, Press Women of Texas
2022 First Place―Children's Book Nonfiction, National Federation of Press Women

Eliza Davis believed in speaking up for what was right. Even if it meant telling Charles Dickens he was wrong.

In Eliza Davis's day, Charles…

The Book of Marvels and Travels

By John Mandeville, Anthony Bale (translator),

Book cover of The Book of Marvels and Travels

Asa Simon Mittman Author Of The Ashgate Research Companion to Monsters and the Monstrous

From the list on explaining the history of monsters.

Who am I?

Growing up, I rewatched Star Wars until I wore out my VHS tape. I read every Dragonlance novel. I played a bit of D&D. When I got to college, I finally was allowed work on things that interested me. I found Art History, dove into Medieval Studies, and, in grad school, got serious about monsters. Monster Studies didn’t exist, but books were out (especially by Jeffrey Jerome Cohen), and my advisor encouraged me to follow my passions. My 15-year-old self would be astonished to learn that I’d get to read monster books, study monster art, and watch monster movies as a job!

Asa's book list on explaining the history of monsters

Discover why each book is one of Asa's favorite books.

Why did Asa love this book?

This is the most important book people have never heard of. It was immensely popular in the Middle Ages – 300 manuscripts survive in nine languages (Beowulf, another monster tale, survives in one copy). The probably-fictional “John Mandeville, knight, though I am not worthy” sets out from England in 1332, travels the known world on pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and continues all the way to India. He encounters wondrous places, people, and beasts. The book is fundamentally flawed, with rampant racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, sexism, and on, but this is why it matters. Mandeville was Columbus’s reading on his voyage to “the Indies,” and encouraged him to see indigenous populations as monstrous. It is terrible, and terribly important. Bale’s excellent introduction and translation are the best of many versions.

By John Mandeville, Anthony Bale (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Book of Marvels and Travels as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Another island in the Great Ocean has many sinful and malevolent women, who have precious gems in their eyes.'

In his Book of Marvels and Travels, Sir John Mandeville describes a journey from Europe to Jerusalem and on into Asia, and the many wonderful and monstrous peoples and practices in the East. He tells us about the Sultan in Cairo, the Great Khan in China, and the mythical Christian prince Prester John. There are giants and pygmies, cannibals and Amazons, headless humans and people with a single foot so huge it can shield them from the sun . Forceful and…


By Izabela Wagner,

Book cover of Bauman: A Biography

Jane Stork Author Of Breaking the Spell: My Life as a Rajneeshee and the Long Journey Back to Freedom

From the list on understanding the human condition.

Who am I?

I was born and raised in rural Western Australia, married young, traveled with my geologist husband in the Outback until our children were born, and was settling down to becoming a housewife and mother in a Perth suburb when an Indian guru crossed my path. In no time at all, I packed up my family and we moved to India. Four years later I followed my guru when he went to America, and four years after that, I found myself behind bars. Understanding what led me there, and facing the consequences, was to occupy me for many years to come. I continue to have a deep and abiding interest in what makes us tick and why we do the things we do.

Jane's book list on understanding the human condition

Discover why each book is one of Jane's favorite books.

Why did Jane love this book?

I had never heard of Zygmunt Bauman when I picked up this book, but then I couldn’t put it down. By the time I had finished reading it, I was filled with the deepest appreciation and respect for both the man, and his biographer. Bauman’s life spanned almost a hundred years and his story is also the story of Europe, from 1925-2017.

Izabela Wagner has done monumental work to produce a biography worthy of its subject. Her loving respect for Bauman is tangible and adds greatly to the pleasure of reading the story of this extraordinary man’s life: Polish Jew, refugee, soldier, sociologist; an intellectual who spent his life reflecting on what he saw, and speaking and writing about it with pristine clarity.

By Izabela Wagner,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bauman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Global thinker, public intellectual and world-famous theorist of 'liquid modernity', Zygmunt Bauman (1925-2017) was a scholar who, despite forced migration, built a very successful academic career and, after retirement, became a prolific and popular writer and an intellectual talisman for young people everywhere. He was one of those rare scholars who, grey-haired and in his eighties, had his finger on the pulse of the youth.

This is the first comprehensive biography of Bauman's life and work. Izabela Wagner returns to Bauman's native Poland and recounts his childhood in an assimilated Polish Jewish family and the school experiences shaped by anti-Semitism.…

T.S. Eliot

By Lyndall Gordon,

Book cover of T.S. Eliot: An Imperfect Life

Willard Spiegelman Author Of Nothing Stays Put: The Life and Poetry of Amy Clampitt

From the list on the lives and works of English and American poets.

Who am I?

I have spent my life both in the classroom (as a university professor) and out of it as a passionate, committed reader, for whom books are as necessary as food and drink. My interest in poetry dates back to junior high school, when I was learning foreign languages (first French and Latin, and then, later, Italian, German, and ancient Greek) and realized that language is humankind’s most astonishing invention. I’ve been at it ever since. It used to be thought that a writer’s life was of little consequence to an understanding of his or her work. We now think otherwise. Thank goodness.

Willard's book list on the lives and works of English and American poets

Discover why each book is one of Willard's favorite books.

Why did Willard love this book?

Every English major in the 20th century (maybe even in the 21st!) came to grips with T.S. Eliot. 

People remember J. Alfred Prufrock and his love song. And The Waste Land has just passed its 100th birthday and readers are still scratching their heads over it.

T. S. Eliot was the man—along with several others—who made modern poetry “hard” and complicated, and he was quite a complicated figure himself.

Lyndall Gordon gives us Eliot in all his complexities and shows how he became our age’s Dr. Johnson.

By Lyndall Gordon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked T.S. Eliot as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this "nuanced, discerning account of a life famously flawed in its search for perfection" (The New Yorker), Gordon captures Eliot's "complex spiritual and artistic history . . . with tact, diligence, and subtlety" (Boston Globe). Drawing on recently discovered letters, she addresses in full the issue of Eliot's anti-Semitism as well as the less-noted issue of his misogyny. Her account "rescues both the poet and the man from the simplifying abstractions that have always been applied to him" (The New York Times), and is "definitive but not dogmatic, sympathetic without taking sides. . . . Its voice rings with…

Book cover of A Child of Christian Blood: Murder and Conspiracy in Tsarist Russia: The Beilis Blood Libel

Stefan B. Kirmse Author Of The Lawful Empire: Legal Change and Cultural Diversity in Late Tsarist Russia

From the list on how cultural diversity sustained the Russian Empire.

Who am I?

You can experience Russia by exploring the churches and palaces of St Petersburg and Moscow. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s not my approach. For me, it has always made more sense to look at the largest country on earth from its edges, the distant mountains, steppes, forests, and waters that surround it. For three decades, I have travelled across this space, studied its languages, written books and articles about it. And I have tried to look through the lens of the diverse peoples and cultures that have been part of Russian history, for better or worse. The rise and fall of the Russian Empire are unthinkable without them.    

Stefan's book list on how cultural diversity sustained the Russian Empire

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Why did Stefan love this book?

This early 20th-century courtroom drama, set in late imperial Kiev, is a truly satisfying read: suspenseful and riveting, yet also persuasive as a scholarly work.

I have rarely come across an academic book on the Russian Empire so difficult to put down, with virtually every chapter ending on a cliffhanger.

Telling the true story of a ritual murder charge against a Jewish factory clerk in 1911, his sufferings, and ultimate acquittal, the book is a meticulously researched and deeply captivating story of desperation and hope.

I might disagree with some of its claims about the judiciary, and yet, with its multitude of Jewish, Russian, and Ukrainian actors and ever more unexpected twists, the story told is as multilayered and diverse as the late imperial court system as a whole. 

By Edmund Levin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Child of Christian Blood as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Jewish factory worker is falsely accused of ritually murdering a Christian boy in Russia in 1911, and his trial becomes an international cause célèbre.
On March 20, 1911, thirteen-year-old Andrei Yushchinsky was found stabbed to death in a cave on the outskirts of Kiev. Four months later, Russian police arrested Mendel Beilis, a thirty-seven-year-old father of five who worked as a clerk in a brick factory nearby, and charged him not only with Andrei’s murder but also with the Jewish ritual murder of a Christian child. Despite the fact that there was no evidence linking him to the crime,…

The Devil’s Historians

By Amy Kaufman, Paul Sturtevant,

Book cover of The Devil’s Historians: How Modern Extremists Abuse the Medieval Past

K. Patrick Fazioli Author Of The Mirror of the Medieval: An Anthropology of the Western Historical Imagination

From the list on the use and abuse of the medieval past.

Who am I?

I’m not ashamed to admit that my childhood fascination with the distant past was sparked by hours of leafing through The Kingfisher Illustrated History of the World and countless viewings of the “Indiana Jones” movies. Today, I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Humanities at Mercy College and an archaeologist specializing in the eastern Alpine region during Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages. The author of three books and numerous scholarly articles, my research interests include ceramic technology, social identity, and the appropriation of the medieval past by modern ideologies.    

K.'s book list on the use and abuse of the medieval past

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Why did K. love this book?

If you want to understand why everything you think you know about the Middle Ages is (probably) wrong, go pick up a copy of The Devil’s Historians, which chronicles how everyone from the Brothers Grimm and George R. R. Martin to ISIS and Donald Trump have invented a medieval past that reflects their own ideological preoccupations rather than historical reality. With chapters on nationalism, gender, race, and religion, Amy Kaufman and Paul Sturtevant’s book sharply contrasts the one-dimensional Middle Ages found in pop culture and political propaganda with the more complicated, even contradictory, medieval world revealed by contemporary scholarship. 

By Amy Kaufman, Paul Sturtevant,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Devil’s Historians as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Amy S. Kaufman and Paul B. Sturtevant examine the many ways in which the medieval past has been manipulated to promote discrimination, oppression, and murder. Tracing the fetish for "medieval times" behind toxic ideologies like nationalism, antisemitism, Islamophobia, misogyny, and white supremacy, Kaufman and Sturtevant show us how the Middle Ages have been twisted for political purposes in every century that followed. The Devil's Historians casts aside the myth of an oppressive, patriarchal medieval monoculture and reveals a medieval world not often shown in popular culture: one that is diverse, thriving, courageous, compelling, and complex.

Book cover of Origins of Totalitarianism

Dorian Lynskey Author Of The Ministry of Truth: The Biography of George Orwell's 1984

From the list on totalitarianism not written by George Orwell.

Who am I?

In The Ministry of Truth, I wanted to bring together two longstanding interests: dystopian fiction and the history of totalitarianism. Nineteen Eighty-Four is of course a landmark work in both categories. In trying to explain how and why Orwell came to write his masterpiece, and its subsequent influence on fiction and political thought, I read a huge range of books that wrestled with the horrors of Nazism and Stalinism and asked how they were able to hold sway, physically and mentally, over tens of millions of people. Many of them are gripping and valuable but these five in particular make for great companions to 1984.

Dorian's book list on totalitarianism not written by George Orwell

Discover why each book is one of Dorian's favorite books.

Why did Dorian love this book?

Arendt’s three-part masterwork had the same US editor as 1984 and can be read as the non-fiction equivalent. While scholars have subsequently questioned aspects of her grand theory of totalitarianism, much of it holds up. Her commanding, aphoristic prose has made this one of the most widely quoted books of recent years, especially on the subject of power creating its own alternate reality: “In an ever-changing, incomprehensible world the masses had reached the point where they would, at the same time… think that everything was possible and that nothing was true.”

By Hannah Arendt,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Origins of Totalitarianism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Hannah Arendt's definitive work on totalitarianism—an essential component of any study of twentieth-century political history.

The Origins of Totalitarianism begins with the rise of anti-Semitism in central and western Europe in the 1800s and continues with an examination of European colonial imperialism from 1884 to the outbreak of World War I. Arendt explores the institutions and operations of totalitarian movements, focusing on the two genuine forms of totalitarian government in our time—Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia—which she adroitly recognizes were two sides of the same coin, rather than opposing philosophies of Right and Left. From this vantage point, she discusses…

1889-1936 Hubris

By Ian Kershaw,

Book cover of 1889-1936 Hubris

David Roman Author Of Geli Hitler

From the list on the batshit-crazy history of Nazi Germany.

Who am I?

I’m a long-time correspondent for American media across the world. I reported on Europe and Asia for the Wall Street Journal, and on Southeast Asia for Bloomberg News. I was always fascinated by deep historical layers to be found in ancient societies like those of Europe, and the sometimes accurate clichés about European tribes and their strange customs; no European tribe is weirder than the Germans, for a long time the wildest of the continent and then the most cultured and sophisticated until they came under the spell of a certain Austrian. The twelve years that followed still rank as the most insane historical period for any nation ever.

David's book list on the batshit-crazy history of Nazi Germany

Discover why each book is one of David's favorite books.

Why did David love this book?

Kershaw’s double biography of the Nazi leader (the second part, almost entirely about World War II, is called Hubris) is a classic, and remains the best, most approachable look at the unusual upbringing of a young boy from provincial Austria who once wanted to be an artist, and felt in debt with the Jewish doctor who (unsuccessfully, as it turned out) treated his mother’s cancer. Hubris is most remarkable for the glimpses it provides of a different fate for that young boy Adolf: how he was scarred by family tragedy and by failure at multicultural Vienna, and how the Great War gave him an opening to become the worst possible version of himself.

By Ian Kershaw,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked 1889-1936 Hubris as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From his illegitimate birth in a small Austrian village to his fiery death in a bunker under the Reich chancellery in Berlin, Adolf Hitler left a murky trail, strewn with contradictory tales and overgrown with self-created myths. One truth prevails: the sheer scale of the evils that he unleashed on the world has made him a demonic figure without equal in this century. Ian Kershaw's Hitler brings us closer than ever before to the character of the bizarre misfit in his thirty-year ascent from a Viennese shelter for the indigent to uncontested rule over the German nation that had tried…

The Young Lions

By Irwin Shaw,

Book cover of The Young Lions

Joe Kilgore Author Of A Farmhouse in the Rain

From the list on WWII era that explore conflicts on the home front.

Who am I?

I’ve always been enamored with the World War II era. It was a time that seems virtually non-existent today, where almost everyone in my country was on the same page. There seemed to be a collective commitment to the struggle. An agreement that this was indeed good versus evil. Of course, I’m sure its nostalgic allure is much greater for those of us who didn’t actually have to live through it. But the strength, perseverance, and everyday heroism it brought out in soldiers and civilians alike, deserves to be chronicled and remembered forever.

Joe's book list on WWII era that explore conflicts on the home front

Discover why each book is one of Joe's favorite books.

Why did Joe love this book?

What kind of people participated in the greatest conflict the world has ever known? Were the Allies really that different from the Axis soldiers? This book gives you the opportunity to look into what individuals on different sides of World War II were doing before they were trying to kill one another. You find yourself understanding what ignited one German’s initial patriotism, one American’s attempts to avoid the draft, and another’s struggles with antisemitism within his own ranks as well as the enemies. Above all though, it is the madness and futility of war that stays with you when the last page is turned.  

By Irwin Shaw,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Young Lions as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Young Lions is a vivid and classic novel that portrays the experiences of ordinary soldiers fighting World War II. Told from the points of view of a perceptive young Nazi, a jaded American film producer, and a shy Jewish boy just married to the love of his life, Shaw conveys, as no other novelist has since, the scope, confusion, and complexity of war.

Holocaust Chronicle

By Publications International Ltd,

Book cover of Holocaust Chronicle

V.S. Alexander Author Of The Taster

From the list on understanding the Holocaust and its ramifications.

Who am I?

When I was a child, I found myself suddenly fascinated by World War II after reading a Classics Illustrated comic that detailed the history of the war. I remember asking myself, “How could this happen? How could Hitler have exerted such control and power?” Years later, I found myself wanting to write a novel about the Holocaust, but I was shamed and awed by the work of those who had lived through it. Despite that, I kept reading about the war and learning its history. The Taster grew out of all the research I’d done over the years.  

V.S.'s book list on understanding the Holocaust and its ramifications

Discover why each book is one of V.S.'s favorite books.

Why did V.S. love this book?

I have used this book as a reference for all my novels that deal with Nazi Germany. It is a thick, coffee-table-sized book, that, by chance, I found years ago on the “reduced” shelf in a local bookstore. The chronicle isn’t for the faint of heart. It explains the rise of National Socialism and the ensuing Holocaust in graphic words and pictures, and will leave its indelible imagery firmly entrenched in your memory. It takes you from the roots of the Holocaust to its disturbing aftermath, years after the war. 

By Publications International Ltd,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Holocaust Chronicle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Holocaust Chronicle, written and fact-checked by top scholars, recounts the long, complex, anguishing story of the most terrible crime of the 20th century. The mission of The Holocaust Chronicle is to report the facts, clearly and free of bias or agenda. The 3000-item timeline of Holocaust-related events is unprecedented in its scope and ambition and detailed caption-text is rich with facts and human interest. Featured are more than 2000 photographs selected after intensive research in the collections of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. and Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, as well as other archives and private…

The Assignment

By Liza Wiemer,

Book cover of The Assignment

Paul Volponi Author Of The Great G.O.A.T. Debate: The Best of the Best in Everything from Sports to Science

From the list on for fearless readers.

Who am I?

I spent 16 years teaching in NYC public schools, six of them on Rikers Island the world's biggest jail where I helped incarcerated teens improve their reading and writing skills. That experience helped to launch me on my own writing career. The job of the author? To hold up a mirror to society and reflect upon the page what the reader may not have experienced yet or missed seeing in the world outside the borders of a book.

Paul's book list on for fearless readers

Discover why each book is one of Paul's favorite books.

Why did Paul love this book?

Wiemer is the type of storyteller who makes you think at every turn of the page. The Assignment looks at the world of discrimination and antisemitism as it is handed out in a classroom assignment by a teacher we're left wondering about from the beginning. What makes you brave under the pressure of your peers, and what makes you crumble? Wiemer will give you insight into that through this stirring tome.

By Liza Wiemer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Assignment as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Inspired by a real-life incident, this riveting novel explores the dangerous impact discrimination and antisemitism have on one community when a school assignment goes terribly wrong.

Would you defend the indefensible?

That's what seniors Logan March and Cade Crawford are asked to do when a favorite teacher instructs a group of students to argue for the Final Solution--the Nazi plan for the genocide of the Jewish people.

Logan and Cade decide they must take a stand, and soon their actions draw the attention of the student body, the administration, and the community at large. But not everyone feels as Logan…

Woke Antisemitism

By David L. Bernstein,

Book cover of Woke Antisemitism: How a Progressive Ideology Harms Jews

Suzanna Sherry Author Of Beyond All Reason: The Radical Assault on Truth in American Law

From the list on why liberals should fear “woke” culture.

Who am I?

I’ve been a liberal all my life: I went to my first protest march by myself when I was 13 and cast my first vote for George McGovern. I’ve also been an academic most of my life, studying and teaching at multiple colleges and universities. Over the last decade I’ve watched the animating principles of both academia and liberalism – the spirit of free inquiry and the willingness to debate ideas – descend into an authoritarian conformism that brooks no dissent. I hope that these books can persuade people to fight against these trends before it’s too late: “Do not go gentle into that good night; Rage, rage, against the dying of the light.”

Suzanna's book list on why liberals should fear “woke” culture

Discover why each book is one of Suzanna's favorite books.

Why did Suzanna love this book?

If McWhorter focuses on how woke ideology harms Blacks, Bernstein shows how it harms Jews and inevitably fosters antisemitism.

Like McWhorter, Bernstein provides very specific examples of wokeness in action, both on and off campus. Jews were asked to leave an LGBT Pride event because their flag – a Pride flag with a Star of David on it – “made people feel unsafe”; a Jewish organization that issued a public statement condemning George Floyd’s murder was lambasted because the statement had not been drafted by a person of color; and more.

Bernstein and I are both liberal Jews, but we both fear the consequences of an ideology that divides the world into the non-privileged oppressed and the privileged oppressors – Jews, by virtue of their current success, are automatically considered privileged oppressors despite the long worldwide history of antisemitism.

By David L. Bernstein,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Woke Antisemitism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Woke Antisemitism is a firsthand account from a top Jewish leader about how woke ideology shuts down discourse, corrupts Jewish values, and spawns a virulent new strain of antisemitism.

“David Bernstein has written an important book which deserves to be read widely and be thoroughly discussed in our community. This book is a powerful defense of liberal values….Bernstein’s treatment is nuanced and respectful, showing understanding for the goals even as he critiques the methods of woke culture and shows us cases where it leads to antisemitism.”

–Rabbi Yitz Greenberg, American scholar, author and rabbi

“In every age, hatred of Jews…

Bad Faith

By Carmen Callil,

Book cover of Bad Faith: A Forgotten History of Family, Fatherland and Vichy France

Helen Martin Author Of Lot: Travels Through a Limestone Landscape in Southwest France

From the list on the Lot department of Southwest France.

Who am I?

A francophile and a researcher. I ran the research department of The Guardian newspaper for many years. I decided to write my book after it became apparent that there were no English language guidebooks devoted to the Lot alone (and not many in French either). I have been travelling all over France since I was a child in the 50s and discovered the Lot, en route to Spain, in about 1956. I have visited every year since. Pretty well all my interests in life are centred around my passion for this area, but extend beyond it -- history, ecclesiastical architecture, vernacular architecture of Quercy, gastronomy, cave art, the Resistance.

Helen's book list on the Lot department of Southwest France

Discover why each book is one of Helen's favorite books.

Why did Helen love this book?

Plenty of Resistance activity in the Lot, certainly, but it was also the home of the vicious anti-semite Louis Darquier de Pellepoix, who rounded up many Jews to their deaths on behalf of the Vichy Government. Years later, Carmen Callil, founder of Virago, was seeking psychiatric help when she came across his daughter Anne, a psychiatrist, who had been abandoned by her despicable parents.

It was Anne’s death by suicide that set Callil off on a stunning attempt to track the life of Darquier, a drunkard, a rapist, and a man of few if any redeeming features. He disgraced his family and native town, where his father was mayor of Cahors, capital of the Lot. He was sentenced to death but, protected by Franco, died a free man in Spain.

“Only lice were ever gassed at Auschwitz” was his mantra as he sent children off to the gas chambers.

By Carmen Callil,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Bad Faith as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This brilliant book tells the story of one of history s most despicable villains and conmen Louis Darquier de Pellepoix, Nazi collaborator and Commissioner for Jewish Affairs , who managed the Vichy government s dirty work, controlling its Jewish population. orn into an established, politically moderate family, Louis Darquier ( de Pellepoix was a later affectation) proceeded from modest beginnings to dissemble his way to power, continually reinventing himself in conformity with an obsession with racial purity and the latent anti-Semitism of the French Catholic Church. He was the ultimate chancer- always broke, always desperate for attention, social cachet, women…