Earlier this week, Dr. Jonathan Sarna wrote about writing his most recent book, “When General Grant Expelled the Jews,” in Jerusalem. His blog posts are being featured this week on The Arty Semite courtesy of the Jewish Book Council and My Jewish Learning’s Author Blog Series. For more information on the series, please visit:
When I first announced that I was writing a book about Ulysses S. Grant’s General Orders #11, the most notorious official act of anti-Semitism in American history, colleagues were skeptical. “Can there be anything new to say about the subject?” a good friend asked.
Although I pointed out that not one single book had ever been written on the topic, and that nobody had looked at it afresh in many decades, friends wondered aloud whether I was making a mistake. Wasn’t the chapter on General Orders #11 in Bertram W. Korn’s “American Jewry and the Civil War” published in 1951, the accepted account of the subject? Why waste my time on an event that had already been written about before?