The Holocaust in American Life

by Peter Novick

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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 203

The Holocaust in American Life is a nonfiction exploration of the ways in which Americans understand the Holocaust. It controversially argues that America has become obsessed with the Holocaust in an unhealthy manner. Novick believes that American responses to the Holocaust have mostly harmed the American Jewish community. Novick first explores the Jewish response to the Holocaust. He discovers that Jewish American leaders purposely downplayed their response to the Holocaust. He provides multiple reasons for why this could be. He ultimately determines that leaders may not have wanted to fall into the Jewish stereotype of vengeful or that leaders were concentrated on the sovereignty of Israel. He then documents how Jewish opinions of the Holocaust shifted. He begins to identify the ways in which American Jews became entrenched in a victim narrative. Novick believes that this detracts from all that Jewish culture has to offer. Furthermore, he considers why Jewish American leaders of today conjure up images of the Holocaust to further certain political causes. Novick writes from a secular Jewish perspective. His writing, though highly controversial, has received accolades for addressing such prominent and pressing questions. Novick argues for a more balanced consideration of the Holocaust that does not have political intentions.

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