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Drawing on economic, social, political, and intellectual history from medieval Europe through contemporary America and Israel, Capitalism and the Jews examines the ways in which thinking about capitalism and thinking about the Jews have gone hand in hand in European thought, and why anticapitalism and anti-Semitism have frequently been linked. The book explains why Jews have tended to be disproportionately successful in capitalist societies, but also why Jews have numbered among the fiercest anticapitalists and Communists. The book shows how the ancient idea that money was unproductive led from the stigmatization of usury and the Jews to the stigmatization of finance and, ultimately, in Marxism, the stigmatization of capitalism itself. Finally, the book traces how the traditional status of the Jews as a diasporic merchant minority both encouraged their economic success and made them particularly vulnerable to the ethnic nationalism of the 19th and 20th centuries.
Providing a fresh look at an important but frequently misunderstood subject, Capitalism and the Jews will interest anyone who wants to understand the Jewish role in the development of capitalism, the role of capitalism in the modern fate of the Jews, or the ways in which the story of capitalism and the Jews has affected the history of Europe and beyond, from the medieval period to our own.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Philo on 06-06-12
Takes an interesting cross-section of history
As I expected, this collection of essays has a lot to say about the relationship of Christianity and European "mainstream" society of days past to finance, as well as to the Jews who, for a long time, embodied it there. Another very interesting and vivid narrative on this, with a narrower focus, can be found in the excellent audio "Dynasties" by David S. Landes, in the segment on the Rothschilds. But here the topic also moves far and wide over many ideologies, from Marxism to Zionism, and sub-groups within the latter. This is such an important part of western civilization's history, filling so many gaps, I am pleased to have found it.
5 of 6 people found this review helpful