When General Grant Expelled the Jews by Jonathan D. Sarna

73%

11 Critic Reviews

Sarna weighs the short-lived order against important Jewish appointments in Grant’s administration, his humanitarian support for oppressed Jews around the world and lasting friendships with Jews.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

***Finalist, 2012 National Jewish Book Awards, American-Jewish Studies***

Part of the Jewish Encounter series

A riveting account of General Ulysses S. Grant’s decision, in the middle of the Civil War, to order the expulsion of all Jews from the territory under his command, and the reverberations of that decision on Grant’s political career, on the nascent American Jewish community, and on the American political process.
 
On December 17, 1862, just weeks before Abraham Lincoln announced the Emancipation Proclamation, General Grant issued what remains the most notorious anti-Jewish order by a government official in American history. His attempt to eliminate black marketeers by targeting for expulsion all Jews “as a class” unleashed a firestorm of controversy that made newspaper headlines and terrified and enraged the approximately 150,000 Jews then living in the United States, who feared the importation of European antisemitism onto American soil.
 
Although the order was quickly rescinded by a horrified Abraham Lincoln, the scandal came back to haunt Grant when he ran for president in 1868. Never before had Jews become an issue in a presidential contest, and never before had they been confronted so publicly with the question of how to balance their “American” and “Jewish” interests. Award-winning historian Jonathan D. Sarna gives us the first complete account of this little-known episode—including Grant’s subsequent apology, his groundbreaking appointment of Jews to prominent positions in his administration, and his unprecedented visit to the land of Israel. Sarna sheds new light on one of our most enigmatic presidents, on the Jews of his day, and on the ongoing debate between group loyalty and national loyalty that continues to roil American political and social discourse.




From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Jonathan D. Sarna

See more books from this Author
Jonathan D. Sarna is the Joseph H. and Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History at Brandeis University and chief historian of the National Museum of American Jewish History. He has written, edited, or co-edited more than twenty books and is best known for the acclaimed American Judaism: A History, which received the Jewish Book Council's Everett Family Foundation Jewish Book of the Year Award in 2004. He lives in Massachusetts. The PBS documentary Jewish Soldiers in Blue & Gray, which features Jonathan Sarna, explores the hidden stories of American Jews during the Civil War. Presented by the Shapell Manuscript Foundation, it is available for purchase on DVD at www.shapell.org.
 
Published March 13, 2012 by Schocken. 224 pages
Genres: History, Biographies & Memoirs, War. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for When General Grant Expelled the Jews
All: 11 | Positive: 7 | Negative: 4

Kirkus

Excellent
Jan 01 2012

Sarna weighs the short-lived order against important Jewish appointments in Grant’s administration, his humanitarian support for oppressed Jews around the world and lasting friendships with Jews.

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NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Janet Maslin on Apr 04 2012

...Mr. Sarna places undue emphasis on the narrow question of whether Grant ultimately “earned” the support and forgiveness of Jews.

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Publishers Weekly

Excellent
Dec 19 2011

Thoroughly researched and crisply written, this is a very fine work that will interest students of both American and modern Jewish history.

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The Washington Post

Below average
Reviewed by Harold Holzer on Mar 02 2012

Some quibbles: The illustration of “Grant, about 1860” is a photo of a beef contractor mistaken for the general; and Sarna’s occasional embrace of au courant phrases (“He was a one-man Anti-Defamation League,” “speak truth to power”) proves jarring.

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The Daily Beast

Excellent
Reviewed by Marc Wortman on Mar 21 2012

Sarna’s wide-ranging and judiciously balanced book is the latest entry in the luminous Schocken/ Nextbook Jewish Encounters series.

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Macleans

Excellent
Reviewed by Brian Bethune on Mar 22 2012

In this engrossing account by a Brandeis University historian, the order is also shown to be a key moment in the life of Grant.

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Look At OKC

Excellent
Reviewed by Benet Exton on Mar 11 2012

This book is highly recommended to those interested in the Civil War and American Jewish history.

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The New Republic

Below average
Reviewed by Jenna Joselit on Mar 21 2012

For all its many pleasures, however, the book turns out to be more suggestive than persuasive, especially when it comes to its conclusion.

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Chapter 16

Excellent
Reviewed by Tim Boyd on Mar 21 2012

Overall, Sarna has produced a work of history that is balanced, engaging, fascinating, and valuable.

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Charlotte Observer

Excellent
Reviewed by John Smith on Mar 16 2012

Sarna’s excellent book reminds us that Americans have a long history of learning from their errors.

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Moment

Below average
Reviewed by Jon Marszalek

Although he does not provide any numbers, Sarna indicates that more Jews held federal jobs in Grant’s administration than under any previous president.

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Erin Kramer

Erin Kramer 5 Sep 2013

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