Peter Novick Essay - Critical Essays

Novick, Peter


Peter Novick 1934-

American historian and nonfiction writer.

The following entry presents an overview of Novick's career through 2001.

Novick, a professor of twentieth-century American and European history at the University of Chicago, has published three works of acclaimed historical scholarship during his nearly four decades as a professional historian. His first work, The Resistance versus Vichy: The Purge of Collaborators in Liberated France (1968), concerns the mass executions of Vichy collaborators—those supporting a facist government ruled by Marshal Phillipe Petain—in France following World War II. Novick's second book, That Noble Dream: The “Objectivity Question” and the American Historical Profession (1988), is both a social history of historical scholarship as an academic field and an intellectual history concerning debates over objectivity in historical research. The Holocaust in American Life (1999) traces developments in the American perspective on the Holocaust since World War II, and puts forth a controversial argument asserting that the Holocaust has been over-memorialized in American mass culture.

Biographical Information

Novick was born on July 26, 1934, in Jersey City, New Jersey. He served in the United States Army from 1953 to 1955, and earned a bachelor's degree in history from Colombia University in 1957. While in graduate school, Novick taught as a lecturer at Rutgers University from 1961 to 1962, and at Colombia University from 1961 to 1965. Novick earned a Ph.D. in history from Colombia University in 1965 and began his career as a professor of history. He taught as an assistant professor at the University of California at Santa Barbara from 1965 to 1966. He then began teaching twentieth-century American and European history at the University of Chicago, working as an assistant professor from 1966 to 1969, an associate professor from 1969 to 1987, and as a full professor since 1987. Novick received the 1969 Clark M. Ansley award, presented by Colombia University Press, for The Resistance versus Vichy, and the 1989 Albert J. Beveridge prize, from the American Historical Association, for That Noble Dream.

Major Works

In The Resistance versus Vichy, Novick examines the events that took place in France in the years following World War II, during which collaborators with the Vichy government were purged by Liberation forces. Novick estimates that anywhere from ten thousand to one hundred thousand Vichy collaborators were executed in France between 1944 and 1949. That Noble Dream explores the history of historical scholarship as an academic discipline in the United States, creating both a social history of the discipline and an intellectual history of the concept of “objectivity” among historians. Novick discusses developments in the field of history from the late nineteenth century to the late twentieth century in terms of historians' “objectivity.” He traces a series of fluctuations between periods when a majority of American historians believed that history can and should strive for objectivity and periods when a majority believed that relativism should be the guiding principle of historical scholarship. Novick divides the first century of American historical scholarship into four distinct periods. In the first period, he asserts that the professionalization of the field of history in America began in 1880, when the American Historical Association (AHA) was founded. During this phase, which lasted until 1917, most American historians assumed an ideal of scientific objectivity in their research. In the second phase—from the end of World War I in 1918 until the beginning of World War II in 1939—Novick asserts that American historians adopted a stance of relativism. He describes the 1930s as a period of stagnation, conformity, and prejudice in the field of American historical studies. The third phase in Novick's history, encompassing the 1940s and 1950s, was characterized by a renewed faith in objectivity among American historians. In the wake of World War II, the historical profession experienced a revival in status, as well as a trend toward greater equality in the hiring practices of history departments. Novick dates the fourth period of American historical study from the 1960s to the present. According to Novick, the social and political upheavals of the Civil Rights movement and Vietnam War era lead to a renewed questioning of history's claim to objective scholarship. Increased awareness of underrepresented groups—such as women, African Americans, and other ethnic minorities—led to a splintering of the field of history into a series of sub-fields, including African-American studies, women's studies, ethnic studies, and the scholarship of the New Left. While Novick describes the current state of historical scholarship as chaotic, in which all claims to objectivity have been delegitimized, he offers no alternative theory or methodology for bringing greater unity to the historical profession.

The Holocaust in American Life concerns the developments in American conceptions of the Holocaust since World War II. According to Novick, during World War II, the United States government downplayed the plight of European Jews under Adolf Hitler's regime for fear of alienating American popular opinion against the war effort. In the post-war era of the late 1940s and the 1950s, Novick asserts that the Jewish experience in the Holocaust continued to be largely unacknowledged by the American public. He notes that, during this period, the term “Holocaust” had not yet been widely applied to the Nazi extermination of European Jews, and those who had lived through internment in concentration camps had not yet been termed Holocaust “survivors.” American public conceptions of the Holocaust, however, changed radically during the 1960s and 1970s. Novick points to two major phenomenon which significantly altered the American perspective on the Holocaust. The first was the highly publicized Adolf Eichmann war crimes trial in Israel during the early 1960s, which brought to light the extent of the Nazi atrocities committed against the Jews. The second was the outbreak of the Arab-Israeli War of 1967 and the Yom Kippur War of 1973, which concerned American Jews who feared the annihilation of the state of Israel. These concerns spurned Jewish-American organizations to raise awareness of the Holocaust as a means of garnering American support for the state of Israel. Efforts to memorialize the Holocaust in American popular culture increased throughout the 1980s and 1990s, culminating in the opening of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., in 1993. Novick believes that the Holocaust has actually been overemphasized in American culture, arguing that American sympathy for the Holocaust victims and survivors has been manipulated by prominent Jewish organizations in order to preclude any criticism of Israel's policy toward the Palestinians. Additionally, while memorialization of the Holocaust has been employed as a means of strengthening Jewish identity, Novick feels that it has ultimately drawn focus away from the theological elements of the Jewish religion. He also contends that this overemphasis on the Holocaust has drawn attention away from other oppressed groups in American culture, such as African Americans and Native Americans.

Critical Reception

While many critics have found The Resistance versus Vichy to be a bold and well-researched work of scholarship, others have argued that the book offers scant original historical analysis. Critics of That Noble Dream have almost unanimously concurred that the work raises several important questions regarding the field of historical study, though a number of scholars have disagreed with Novick's conclusions. Reviewers have commented that one of the greatest strengths of That Noble Dream is Novick's social history of the academic historical profession. David Noble asserted that, “No other scholar has made such a marvelous contribution to our understanding of the history profession during its first century.” Many critics, however, regarded Novick's intellectual history of the “objectivity question” as a central weakness of the book, claiming that Novick does not adequately address the subject. Some took issue with Novick for failing to adequately define his use of the term “objectivity,” while others asserted that Novick oversimplifies the debate among historians over objectivity versus relativism. Critics were divided on Novick's assessment of the current state of the historical profession. Some agreed with Novick that the field is in a state of crisis. Joseph M. Levine, for example, commented that That Noble Dream “is useful and timely, for it reminds us that the historical profession is indeed in crisis, that its traditional convictions about the point and purpose of history have been challenged and cannot be left to stand in their original formulation.” Others, meanwhile, asserted that historical scholarship remains unified by basic theoretical and methodological values. Novick was criticized for his scant and oversimplified treatment of women historians, as well as developments in women's history. Hilda L. Smith observed, “It is not merely that [Novick] presents a brief and inaccurate understanding of women's history; he also provides an inadequate understanding of women in the historical profession.” Linda Gordon concurred, “Novick's treatment of women's history is so scandalously misinformed that it becomes disrespectful. … Novick misses not only the rich theoretical debates within women's history … but he also misses the academic politics.” The Holocaust in American Life has garnered a mixed critical reception. Many critics agreed that Novick's historical narrative of the development of American conceptions of the Holocaust since World War II is well-researched, insightful, and accurate. Many, however, strongly disagreed with Novick's conclusion that the Holocaust has been over-memorialized in American culture. A number of reviewers asserted that Novick fails to comprehend the significance of the Holocaust itself. Steve Hochstadt, for example, commenting on the strengths and weakness of The Holocaust in American Life, observed, “A valuable, insightful, and solidly documented analysis of the use of the Holocaust by a significant segment of American Jewry is woven together with a superficial, distorted, and tendentious presentation of the Holocaust itself.” Several pointed out that Novick's perspective is too narrow, failing to take into account the broader cultural and historical contexts through which Jews and non-Jews understand the Holocaust. As Jeffrey Herf commented, “The problem with The Holocaust in American Life is not that all of Novick's criticisms are wrong, but that he makes them without sufficient nuance and balance. He would have written a much better and more convincing book had he examined the host of other and equally plausible and not at all pejorative reasons for the emergence of the Holocaust as a theme in American life.” Some reviewers, however, agreed that Novick offers an important critique of how memorialization of the Holocaust has been manipulated by prominent public figures and national organizations to promote specific political agendas. Lawrence Baron, for example, observed, “Novick's analysis of Holocaust commemoration should not be misconstrued as a form of Holocaust denial, but rather as a warning against reducing the Holocaust to trite lessons that enhance Jewish identity or advance a variety of contemporary causes.”

Principal Works

The Resistance versus Vichy: The Purge of Collaborators in Liberated France (history) 1968

That Noble Dream: The “Objectivity Question” and the American Historical Profession (history) 1988

The Holocaust in American Life (nonfiction) 1999

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C. Vann Woodward (review date 20 February 1989)

SOURCE: Woodward, C. Vann. “Truth and Consequences.” New Republic 200, no. 8 (20 February 1989): 40-3.

[In the following review of That Noble Dream, Woodward questions Novick's success in addressing the “objectivity question” and offers his own evaluation of historians' duty to represent the past.]

A thesis, or better a theme, does run in and out of this large volume from beginning to end. It is proclaimed in its title, That Noble Dream, borrowed from Charles A. Beard, who used it for one of two essays renouncing faith in objectivity in historiography. As developed here, the theme deserves attention on its own, and I shall return to it later. But...

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Geoffrey Elton (review date September 1989)

SOURCE: Elton, Geoffrey. Review of That Noble Dream, by Peter Novick. Journal of Economic History 49, no. 3 (September 1989): 775-77.

[In the following review, Elton describes That Noble Dream as a “fascinating book” that provides a “splendid story” of the history of academic historical scholarship in the United States.]

Nowhere do historians go in for so much self-examination as they do in America: it is a part of American culture to examine the self. The same conglomeration of habits also accounts for American historians' exceptional willingness to listen to self-appointed guides, some of them sane but more of them not evidently so. The...

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Stephen Turner (review date September 1989)

SOURCE: Turner, Stephen. Review of That Noble Dream, by Peter Novick. American Journal of Sociology 95, no. 2 (September 1989): 539-43

[In the following review, Turner asserts that That Noble Dream is itself a model for the history of an academic discipline.]

Academic sociology in the United States was born into an already thriving family of disciplines; it was the runt of a litter in which history and economics were the older siblings. History was the academic origin of such pioneer sociologists as Albion Small, and Giddings, for most of his career, had “history” in his professorial title. Yet, like rival siblings, the social science disciplines...

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Carl Degler (review date December 1989)

SOURCE: Degler, Carl. Review of That Noble Dream, by Peter Novick. Journal of American History 76, no. 3 (December 1989): 892-94.

[In the following review, Degler praises That Noble Dream as “brilliant,” noting that Novick's central argument is presented with “force, understanding, and subtlety.”]

Do historians in the United States care about “the objectivity question”? Peter Novick does not think they do, but that is precisely why he has written this book [That Noble Dream] “to provoke my fellow historians” (he is a historian of France at the University of Chicago) “to greater self-consciousness of our work; to offer those...

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David W. Noble (review date December 1989)

SOURCE: Noble, David W. “Perhaps the Rise and Fall of Scientific History in the American Historical Profession.” Reviews in American History 17, no. 4 (December 1989): 519-22.

[In the following review, Noble argues that That Noble Dream provides “a rich and powerful narrative” surrounding the “objectivity question” in the American historical profession.]

[In That Noble Dream,] Peter Novick has written an unprecedented and invaluable study of the idea of objectivity among American historians. Starting in the 1880s, when historians established their professional identity, he carries his narrative up to the immediate present. To illuminate what...

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Alexander Kedar (review date 1990)

SOURCE: Kedar, Alexander. Review of That Noble Dream, by Peter Novick. Poetics Today 11, no. 3 (1990): 717-18.

[In the following review, Kedar praises That Noble Dream as an excellent work of intellectual history, noting the volume's “extraordinary range of scholarship.”]

For Peter Novick, telling the story of the “noble dream” of historical objectivity [in That Noble Dream] was like “nailing jelly to the wall” (1). With much erudition and humor, Novick has achieved an impressive account that keeps a great deal of this fuzzy stuff in place. In this long, dense, and massively documented book, Novick traces the paths of the idea of...

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Robert Cuff (review date April 1990)

SOURCE: Cuff, Robert. Review of That Noble Dream, by Peter Novick. Canadian Journal of History 25, no. 1 (April 1990): 143-45.

[In the following review, Cuff argues that That Noble Dream draws on a wealth of research to provide “an outstanding book of great value” for historians and readers alike.]

Can historians be objective in their work? Peter Novick uses impressive research in manuscript collections and published historical scholarship, as well as wide reading in other academic disciplines, to describe and analyse how notables within the U.S. historical profession have dealt with this question over the past one hundred years. The result is an...

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John Higham (review date June 1990)

SOURCE: Higham, John. Review of That Noble Dream, by Peter Novick. Journal of Modern History 62, no. 2 (June 1990): 353-56.

[In the following review, Higham compares Novick's central argument in That Noble Dream to the thesis of his own book History.]

The title of Peter Novick's big, compelling book [That Noble Dream] comes from a bleak address that Theodore Clarke Smith delivered to the American Historical Association in 1934. Responding to sledgehammer attacks that progressive scholars were making on “the ideal of the effort for objective truth,” Smith suggested gloomily that the way things were going this “noble dream”—the basic creed...

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Charles Tilly (review date July 1990)

SOURCE: Tilly, Charles. Review of That Noble Dream, by Peter Novick. Contemporary Sociology 19, no. 4 (July 1990): 535-37.

[In the following review, Tilly asserts that Novick's central argument in That Noble Dream is problematic, due to several methodological shortcomings.]

Coolly skeptical about the possibility of historical objectivity and wittily contemptuous of the ways that aspirants to historical objectivity have articulated their claims, Peter Novick traces what he sees as the rise, fall, second rise, and second fall of the idea in American history [in That Noble Dream.] He finds little reason to hope for future reliability. While...

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Hugh Brogan (review date October 1991)

SOURCE: Brogan, Hugh. Review of That Noble Dream, by Peter Novick. English Historical Review 106 (October 1991): 1073-74.

[In the following review, Brogan observes that That Noble Dream has much to teach historians about their own “intellectual fallacies.”]

Nothing could be more elegant than Peter Novick's performance in That Noble Dream: The ‘Objectivity Question’ and the American Historical Profession. Taking up the theme of the nature of historical knowledge (Is it objective or subjective? Are a historian's categories determined by his researches, or imposed by him on his material?) he uses it to make intelligible the development of...

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Joseph M. Levine (essay date winter 1992)

SOURCE: Levine, Joseph M. “Objectivity in History: Peter Novick and R. G. Collingwood.” CLIO 21, no. 2 (winter 1992): 109-27.

[In the following essay, Levine observes that That Noble Dream is both “useful and timely” for historians as a reminder of the current state of crisis in historical scholarship.]


Peter Novick's That Noble Dream is useful and timely, for it reminds us that the historical profession is indeed in crisis, that its traditional convictions about the point and purpose of history have been challenged and cannot be left to stand in their original formulation, and that some sort of answer may be required....

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Hilda L. Smith (review date spring 1992)

SOURCE: Smith, Hilda L. “Women Historians and Women's History: A Conflation of Absence.” Journal of Women's History 4, no. 1 (spring 1992): 133-41.

[In the following review, Smith discusses Novick's problematic treatment of female historians and developments in the field of women's history in That Noble Dream.]

In That Noble Dream: The “Objectivity Question” and the American Historical Profession, Peter Novick has given us a key to understanding the evolution of professional historians from the 1890s to today. By focusing on questions of objectivity, he has identified a problem that concerns each of us as historians, whether expressed explicitly in our...

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Daniel Scott Smith (review date fall 1993)

SOURCE: Smith, Daniel Scott. “Noble Dream, Dead Certainties, Sophomoric Stance: Historical Objectivity for Adults.” Historical Methods 26, no. 4 (fall 1993): 183-88.

[In the following review, Smith compares That Noble Dream to Simon Schama's Dead Certainties.]

“Pure objectivity is a will-o'-the-wisp,” warns Simon Schama, a prolific historian of Western Europe, and “chasing it is insanity” (MacNeille 1991, 3). Implicitly endorsing the central theme of Peter Novick's That Noble Dream, a massive treatment of the professional context and political milieu of the academic study of history in the United States, Schama was commenting here on his...

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Henry Ashby Turner, Jr. (essay date summer 1995)

SOURCE: Turner, Henry Ashby, Jr. “Peter Novick and the ‘Objectivity Question’ in History.” Academic Questions 8, no. 3 (summer 1995): 17-27.

[In the following essay, written as a summary of a talk Turner gave at a panel titled “History: “As It Really Was?” Turner asserts that a major weakness of Novick's That Noble Dream is his failure to make some essential distinctions in his use of the term “objectivity.” Turner also comments that Novick's dire assessment of the state of modern historical scholarship is inaccurate.]

Author's note: Like most of the historians I have encountered in my lifetime, I have always found what happened in the...

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Hillel Levine (review date 14 June 1999)

SOURCE: Levine, Hillel. “The Decline of the Incredible.” New Leader 72, no. 7 (14 June 1999): 23-5.

[In the following review, Levine questions Novick's methodology and use of sources in The Holocaust in American Life, noting some significant omissions in his argument.]

In 1967 George Steiner, the British literary critic, predicted and also urged:

We cannot pretend that [Bergen] Belsen is irrelevant to the responsible life of the imagination. What man has inflicted on man in very recent times has affected the writer's primary material—the sum and potential of human behavior—and it presses on the brain with a new...

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Elliott Abrams (review date 28 June 1999)

SOURCE: Abrams, Elliott. “Genocide on Main Street.” National Review (28 June 1999): 54-5.

[In the following review, Abrams discusses flaws in Novick's historical argument in The Holocaust in American Life, but concludes that the book offers an useful discussion of American perceptions of the Holocaust.]

The murders and deportations in Kosovo have brought with them memories of the 1930s, when Europe's Jews were subjected to the genocidal attack we now call the Holocaust. Commentators on the Balkan crisis say we must “learn the lesson of the Holocaust”; an advertisement placed by the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith asks us to “respond as you wish...

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Tony Judt (review date 19-26 July 1999)

SOURCE: Judt, Tony. “The Morbid Truth.” New Republic 221, no. 324 (19-26 July 1999): 36-40.

[In the following review of The Holocaust in American Life, Judt observes that Novick's account of the historical development of Holocaust-awareness in America is accurate and well-researched, but comments that Novick's treatment of the Holocaust itself is superficial.]

The Holocaust today is as much an argument as a memory. When the German philosopher Jürgen Habermas, and Marek Edelman, a survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, expressed their support for NATO attacks on Serbia recently, they did so with an explicit analogy with Hitler's attempted extermination of...

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Lawrence Douglas (review date 13 August 1999)

SOURCE: Douglas, Lawrence. “Too Vivid a Memory.” Commonweal 126, no. 14 (13 August 1999): 24-5.

[In the following review, Douglas praises Novick for providing an interesting analysis of the politics of memory in The Holocaust in American Life, but notes that Novick fails to acknowledge the great intrinsic importance of the Holocaust itself.]

What is the value of preserving the memory of the Holocaust's radical evil? The most familiar answer finds expression in the shibboleth, “Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it.” Implicit in this view is the idea that memory serves as a tool of liberation: Only by vigilantly minding the past can we hope...

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David G. Roskies (review date September 1999)

SOURCE: Roskies, David G. “Group Memory.” Commentary 108, no. 2 (September 1999): 62-5.

[In the following review, Roskies argues that The Holocaust in American Life fails to take into account broader cultural and historical factors that affect Jewish-American conceptions of the Holocaust.]

Must every major city in the United States boast its own museum of the Holocaust? Must every high school offer a mandatory curriculum on the destruction of European Jewry, every college campus have an endowed chair of Holocaust studies? Should a so-called Week of Remembrance in mid-April be observed, as Martin Luther King Day is now observed in mid-January? How many movies...

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Marc H. Ellis (review date 6 October 1999)

SOURCE: Ellis, Marc H. “Ending the Era of Auschwitz.” Christian Century 116, no. 26 (6 October 1999): 938-40.

[In the following review, Ellis compares The Holocaust in American Life to Emil Fackenheim's To Mend the World, asserting that Novick's work raises important questions about the significance of the Holocaust to current Jewish-American attitudes about Israel.]

As part of a delegation meeting in 1992 to discuss the future of Auschwitz, I walked the camp's terrible terrain with such notable Holocaust scholars as Richard Rubenstein, David Roskies and Alvin Rosenfeld. There I heard the most radical thought about Holocaust remembrance that I had...

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Norman Finkelstein (review date 6 January 2000)

SOURCE: Finkelstein, Norman. “How the Arab-Israeli War of 1967 Gave Birth to a Memorial Industry.” London Review of Books 22, no. 1 (6 January 2000): 33-6.

[In the following review, Finkelstein describes The Holocaust in American Life as an “illuminating” book and discusses the implications of Novick's argument in regard to prevailing American attitudes about Israel.]

The Holocaust is more central to American cultural life than the Civil War. Seventeen states either demand or recommend Holocaust programmes in their schools; many colleges and universities have endowed chairs in Holocaust Studies; hardly a day goes by without a Holocaust-related story...

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Jeffrey Herf (review date summer 2000)

SOURCE: Herf, Jeffrey. “Explaining the Holocaust?” Partisan Review 67, no. 3 (summer 2000): 504-10.

[In the following review, Herf argues that The Holocaust in American Life offers interesting research and insights, but comments that Novick's argument is one-sided and fails to take into account other possible explanations for the continuing preoccupation with the Holocaust in American culture.]

Historians of Jewish and European history have been aware for some time that a focus on the Holocaust has advantages as well as drawbacks. The history of the Jews is by no means only or primarily a history of suffering, persecution, and victimization. Yet a focus on...

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Virginia Quarterly Review (review date summer 2000)

SOURCE: Review of The Holocaust in American Life, by Peter Novick. Virginia Quarterly Review 76, no. 3 (summer 2000): 102-03.

[In the following review, the critic offers a mixed assessment of The Holocaust in American Life, noting that Novick fails to adequately address the questions he poses in regard to American conceptions of the Holocaust.]

Why has the Holocaust become, in the last several decades, the central symbol in reflection on human depravity and cruelty in modernity? And why has this reflection occurred centrally in the United States rather than Europe? These are the questions with which Peter Novick began his investigations into the...

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Severin Hochberg (review date December 2000)

SOURCE: Hochberg, Severin. Review of The Holocaust in American Life, by Peter Novick. Journal of American History 87, no. 3 (December 2000): 1099-101.

[In the following excerpt, Hochberg states that although Novick's central argument in The Holocaust in American Life is sound, he misunderstands what causes the impact of the Holocaust on American culture.]

A number of recent works attempt to explain the phenomenon of the “Americanization” of the Holocaust and the prominent role that this European event has increasingly come to play in the consciousness of American Jews and Americans in general. Peter Novick's book [The Holocaust in American...

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Jeremy D. Popkin (review date winter 2001)

SOURCE: Popkin, Jeremy D. “Holocaust Memory: Bad for the Jews?” Judaism 50, no. 1 (winter 2001): 112-17.

[In the following review of The Holocaust in American Life, Popkin questions whether or not Novick sees any value in the maintenance of a distinctive Jewish identity in American culture.]

Imagine a well-meaning person—Jewish or non-Jewish—who has been moved by a visit to the Holocaust Memorial Museum, who has waded through historical accounts and memoirs on the topic, and who then picks up Peter Novick's The Holocaust in American Life. How will he or she react to the discovery that a prominent Jewish American historian now condemns the entire...

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Lawrence Baron (essay date spring 2001)

SOURCE: Baron, Lawrence. “Experiencing, Explaining, and Exploiting the Holocaust.” Judaism 50, no. 2 (spring 2001): 158-75.

[In the following excerpt, Baron discusses several recent books on the Holocaust, including The Holocaust in American Life, commenting that Novick's book represents a warning against using the memory of the Holocaust as a means of advancing Jewish identity or other political agendas.]

The number of Holocaust memoirs being published has increased dramatically in the last few years as more and more survivors feel an urgent obligation to document their wartime experiences as concentration camp inmates, ghetto dwellers, hidden fugitives,...

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Steve Hochstadt (review date May 2001)

SOURCE: Hochstadt, Steve. Review of The Holocaust in American Life, by Peter Novick. Modern Judaism 21, no. 2 (May 2001): 184-92.

[In the following review of The Holocaust in American Life, Hochstadt asserts that Novick's historical overview of American popular conceptions of the Holocaust is sound, but that Novick fails to adequately understand the significance of the Holocaust itself.]

The Holocaust in American Life has already made a considerable impact among those in America most concerned with teaching the Holocaust. Due to Peter Novick's reputation as a prize-winning historian, his pointed and scholarly critique of the way the Holocaust is...

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Further Reading


Bresnick, Adam. “Is It Good for the Jews?” Los Angeles Times Book Review (5 September 1999): 6.

Bresnick evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of The Holocaust in American Life.

Gordon, Linda. “Comments on That Noble Dream.American Historical Review 96, no. 3 (June 1991): 683-87.

Gordon asserts that That Noble Dream is an invaluable contribution to historical scholarship, but criticizes Novick's argument for overly dichotomizing the issue of objectivity versus relativism.

Haskell, Thomas L. “Objectivity is Not Neutrality: Rhetoric vs. Practice in Peter...

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