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Disraeli: The Novel Politician


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Disraeli: The Novel Politician


Disraeli: The Novel Politician


By David Cesarani
Published April 26, 2016
304 pages

“Superb” —The Wall Street Journal

A fresh, vivid look at Disraeli's life, achievements, and temperament that casts doubts on his much-touted commitment to Jewish rights

Lauded as a “great Jew,” excoriated by anti-Semites, and one of Britain’s most renowned prime ministers, Benjamin Disraeli has been widely celebrated for his role in Jewish history. But is the perception of him as a Jewish hero accurate? In what ways did he contribute to Jewish causes? In this groundbreaking, lucid investigation of Disraeli’s life and accomplishments, David Cesarani draws a new portrait of one of Europe’s leading nineteenth-century statesmen, a complicated, driven, opportunistic man.

While acknowledging that Disraeli never denied his Jewish lineage, boasted of Jewish achievements, and argued for Jewish civil rights while serving as MP, Cesarani challenges the assumption that Disraeli truly cared about Jewish issues. Instead, his driving personal ambition required him to confront his Jewishness at the same time as he acted opportunistically. By creating a myth of aristocratic Jewish origins for himself, and by arguing that Jews were a superior race, Disraeli boosted his own career but also contributed to the consolidation of some of the most fundamental stereotypes of modern antisemitism.

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About the Author

David Cesarani was a research professor in History at Royal Holloway, University of London, and director of the Holocaust Research Centre. His books include Becoming Eichmann: Rethinking the Life, Crimes, and Trial of a “Desk Murderer,” winner of the National Jewish Book Award for history; Major Farran’s Hat: Murder, Scandal, and Britain’s War Against Jewish Terrorism, 1945–1948, a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award for history and nominated for a Golden Dagger for nonfiction; and Arthur Koestler: The Homeless Mind. In 2005 he was named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for his work in establishing a Holocaust Memorial Day in the UK. He died in 2015, at the age of 58.


“Absorbing” —The Times

“A great addition to European history, biography, and Jewish collections.” —Booklist

“This groundbreaking biography is a passionate and stimulating account of Disraeli as both man and myth.” —Bryan Cheyette, author of Diasporas of the Mind

“A focused biography that derives its excellent specificity from Disraeli's writings” —Kirkus Reviews