In a book that Harold Bloom, in The New York Times Book Review, called a "strong, somber book on an appalling subject," Anthony Julius offers a wide-ranging and insightful history of anti-Semitism in England, the first such study of its kind. Julius focuses on four distinct versions of English anti-Semitism. He first describes the anti-Semitism of medieval England, a radical prejudice of defamation, expropriation, and murder, which culminated in 1290, the year Edward I expelled the Jews from England. The second strand is literary anti-Semitism, from the anonymous medieval ballad "Sir Hugh, or the Jew's Daughter," through Chaucer's "The Prioress's Tale" and Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice, to T. S. Eliot and beyond. The third is modern anti-Semitism, the commonplace anti-Semitism of insult and exclusion, running from the mid-17th century through to the late 20th century. The final chapters then deal with contemporary anti-Semitism, emerging in the late 1960s and the 1970s, which treats Zionism and the State of Israel as illegitimate Jewish enterprises.
Anthony Julius is Chairman of the London Consortium, a Visiting Professor at Birkbeck College, University of London, and Vice-President of the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund.