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Henry Ford's War on Jews and the Legal Battle Against Hate Speech [Kindle Edition]

Victoria Woeste
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Henry Ford is remembered in American lore as the ultimate entrepreneur—the man who invented assembly-line manufacturing and made automobiles affordable. Largely forgotten is his side career as a publisher of antisemitic propaganda. This is the story of Ford's ownership of the Dearborn Independent, his involvement in the defamatory articles it ran, and the two Jewish lawyers, Aaron Sapiro and Louis Marshall, who each tried to stop Ford's war.

In 1927, the case of Sapiro v. Ford transfixed the nation. In order to end the embarrassing litigation, Ford apologized for the one thing he would never have lost on in court: the offense of hate speech.

Using never-before-discovered evidence from archives and private family collections, this study reveals the depth of Ford's involvement in every aspect of this case and explains why Jewish civil rights lawyers and religious leaders were deeply divided over how to handle Ford.

Editorial Reviews


"The book is useful for the historian, students of law, and students of American Jewish history."—Chaim Seymour, Association of Jewish Libraries (AJL) Newsletter

"Drawing on new evidence from archives and private family collections, this study details the depth of Ford's involvement in every aspect of this case and explains why Jewish civil rights lawyers and religious leaders were deeply divided over how to handle Ford."—Law & Social Inquiry

"Victoria Saker Woeste's Henry Ford's War on Jews and the Legal Battle Against Hate Speech contributes significantly to our understanding of the dramatic libel lawsuit brought by Aaron Sapiro against the American automotive pioneer. Woeste's meticulously researched book thoughtfully examines the complex circumstances and personalities behind the case, the intricacies of the trial, and the implications of its resolution . . . Woeste's book offers a fascinating and rewarding account of Sapiro v. Ford, and what the case teaches us about hate speech, libel law, and the anti-Jewish crusade of an American icon."—Jessica Cooperman, American Studies

"A major new book by American Bar Foundation scholar Victoria Saker Woeste, Henry Ford's War on Jews and the Legal Battle Against Hate Speech provides a startling new interpretation of a watershed episode in the life of Henry Ford. . . never-before discovered evidence. . . new insights."—

"Thoroughly researched and footnoted, the book analyzes Sapiro v Ford and its aftermath in the larger social context of combating hate speech. This ambitious scope is paried with lively writing to produce an impressive history for Michigan readers." — Gary Maveal, Michigan Bar Journal

About the Author

Victoria Saker Woeste is Research Professor at the American Bar Foundation in Chicago and has had teaching appointments at Indiana University-Indianapolis, Northwestern University, and Amherst College. Her first book was awarded the Law and Society Association's J. Willard Hurst Prize.

Product Details

  • File Size: 2039 KB
  • Print Length: 424 pages
  • Publisher: Stanford University Press (June 27, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008454Z0O
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #479,611 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars One person's hate speech is another's religion October 28, 2013
When is Victoria Saker Woeste and Stanford University Press going to turn their concern with "hate speech" on some lesser cartoon cut-out than the long-dead Henry Ford? What about the contemporary rhetorical war on goyim, in which Woeste and fellow thought cops invest exactly zero interest and concern? Take for example the Lakewood, New Jersey yeshiva volume, "Romemut Yisrael Ufarashat Hagalut" ("Jewish Superiority and the Question of Exile"). Quoting from its contents: "The Jew by his source and in his very essence is entirely good. The goy, by his source and in his very essence, is completely evil. This is not simply a matter of religious distinction, but rather of two completely different species." Does anti-goyimite racism qualify as hate speech that must be interdicted?

Let us consider another charming book that has had a considerable influence over the Israeli army, "Torat Hamelech: Dinei Nefashot Bein Yisrael Le'Amim" ("The King's Torah: Laws of Life and Death between Jews and the Nations"). This book contains 230 pages on the halachic perspective on the killing of gentiles. The authors assert that "The prohibition `Thou Shalt Not Murder' applies only `to a Jew who kills a Jew." Torat Hamelech was published by the Od Yosef Chai yeshiva. It has received wide dissemination and the enthusiastic endorsements of prominent rabbis. At the entrance to Moriah, a large Israeli bookstore just yards from the Western Wall, copies of "Torat Hamelech" were displayed with children's books and halachic commentaries. The store manager, who identified himself only as Motti, said the tome has sold "excellently.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Work November 9, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book is a well written and important reminder that racial and religious bigotry and hatred in the US has long and often obscure roots. And because the Ford media machine has endeavored to excuse Henry Ford's simple minded antisemitism, it is doubly important that books of this kind find as wide an audience as possible. There are efforts to produce a film that captures keeps this story alive but, not surprisingly, it is being met with resistance.
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3 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Excellent book reviewing the history of Henry Ford's anti-Semitism, his publication of the Dearborn Independent, and the resulting trial and its aftermath. Authoritatively researched and published by the American Bar Association.
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