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The People of the Book: Philosemitism in England, From Cromwell to Churchill Hardcover – November 8, 2011
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'The People of the Book' is very interesting; choc-a-bloc with historical nuggets about the attitudes of the English toward their Jewish population, much of it shaped by a fascination with the Old Testament by Reformation Protestants. A good portion of the text includes direct quotes from the various politicians, philosophers, and authors that Ms. Himmelfarb sites and meticulously footnotes.
The author starts with an etymology of the term 'philo-Semite'(it may literally translate to 'love of Jews' but was originally a derogatory term of German origin), a brief historical backround of the 13th century Jewish expulsion, and then their subsequent return under Oliver Cromwell's rule. A chief concern that English Calvinists/Puritans had was that the ingathering of the Jews into the New Jerusalem (ei:Britain) was a Biblical condition for the Second Coming. The other, more pragmatic issue was that the Dutch were benefiting as a world trade power from the talent and skills of their Jewish population.
'The People of the Book' pulls few punches and explains why it took so long for full British citizenship privileges to be conferred upon Jewish residents...but all of this is in the context of what was happening concurrently on the Continent.
There are things that I would have liked to read about that Ms. Himmelfarb did not include such as: Royal attitudes toward Jews are not mentioned beyond King George III. Is it true that Queen Victoria insisted on having her sons circumcised because she believed her family to be of the Davidic line?Read more ›