The book opens with a discussion of concepts that relate intelligence and race (particularly those that figure in the controversial bestseller The Bell Curve); it then describes “scientific” theories of Jewish superior intelligence that were developed in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Gilman explores the reactions to those theories by Jewish scientists and intellectuals of that era, including Sigmund Freud, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Hugo von Hofmannsthal. The conclusion turns to how such ideas figure in modern novels and films, from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Last Tycoon to Stephen Spielberg’s Schindler’s List and Robert Redford’s Quiz Show.
Gilman demonstrates how stereotypes can permeate society, finding expression in everything from scientific work to popular culture. And he shows how the seemingly flattering attribution of superior intelligence has served to isolate Jews and to cast upon them the imputation of lesser virtue.
A fascinating, highly readable book, Smart Jews is an essential work in our ongoing debates about race, ethnicity, intelligence, and virtue.
About Sander L. GilmanSee more books from this Author
In the book's last two chapters, Gilman discusses Berg's opera Wozzeck and such films and novels as The Last Tycoon, Schindler's List, and Quiz Show to illuminate how notions of Jewish intelligence are inscribed in both high and popular culture as the marker of Jewish difference.| Read Full Review of Smart Jews: The Construction ...
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