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When Haman Wore the Union Blues

An excerpt from new release When General Grant Expelled The Jews

Dan Klein
March 08, 2012
(Nextbook Press)
(Nextbook Press)

Next week our friends at Nextbook Press release their latest title, Jonathan Sarna’s When General Grant Expelled The Jews. Ulysses S. Grant, to whom history has not been kind, was similarly reviled by Jews during the civil war after he signed what was the most notorious anti-Jewish order in history, General Orders no 11, which blamed Jews “as a class” for the war zone black market and required them to leave a vast area. As Sarna writes in both the book and in a recent piece in Jewish Week, horrified American Jews were quick to draw parallels between the General and the villain of our current holiday, Haman.

When Grant Expelled The Jews will be available March 13th.

“…he found himself compared, in some Jewish circles, to historic enemies of the Jewish people, a long and ignoble list. The most common comparison was to the wicked Haman, vizier of Persia and villain of the biblical book of Esther, whose order to exterminate the Jews of his day was overturned by Persia’s King Ahasuerus–with disastrous consequences for Haman and his family. The Hebrew journal Hamagid, published in the Prussian town of Lyck, in recounting the Grant episode for Hebrew-speaking Jews across Europe, used the very language of the book of Esther to underscore these parallels between the biblical story and the contemporary one. It also anticipated that Jews would one day have their revenge on the general: “the day will come,” it predicted, “when he will pay in judgment for all of the damage that he wrought upon the Children of Israel by his ignorant and wicked order, and his deeds will recoil upon his own head.”