In the light of recent scholarship, "In the City of Slaughter" can be read as an emotional and a political manifesto, considerably removed from the actual events of the Kishinev pogrom. Taking this reading one step further, this essay attempts to recover the authentic voice of the pogrom victims, which presumably remains intact in the eyewitness accounts that Bialik transcribed during his visit in the site of the pogrom.
In order for these voices indeed to be exposed, however, this text, too, requires a subversive reading, which works to deconstruct its logic and organization. Such a reading pays close attention to the core experiences of the pogrom: the element of surprise (despite previous warnings), the blurring of borders between friend and foe, and, most importantly, the preferred strategy of self-defense: negotiating with the perpetrator was often revealed to be more effective than aggressive responses.
Obviously, these insights adumbrate the major public controversies about the appropriate Jewish response to violence, particularly in the wake of the Holocaust. These, in turn, help explain the lasting preoccupation with the Kishinev Pogrom and Bialik's literary responses thereto in Jewish and Israeli public discourse and of its formative role in constituting Jewish and Israeli collective memory.