The Holocaust in American Life

by Peter Novick

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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 180

In The Holocaust in America, author Peter Novick explores the pervasive and continuing influence of the Holocaust in our country, and, particularly, why it has become so dominant in American culture and how it affects both government policies and collective memory. He offers insight on the consequences of the Holocaust in this country, where Jews were not directly victimized by the horrors of genocide but affected by them just the same. He justifies the policies of the United States in denying sanctuary to the Jews, defending their priority to the citizens living in the country and the US economy, which was still suffering from the Depression. He also argues that the elevation of the Holocaust in the American conscience arose twenty some years after the events in Europe. Novick’s cynical tone throughout the book includes his discussion of the consumer appeal of the Holocaust, which, in a sense, validates Hitler and his goals as it makes the Holocaust symbolic of the Jewish experience as a whole and deserving of what he calls “the gold medal in the Victimization Olympics.”

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