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Book Reviews 181 expected in a chapter on motivation which goes beyond what the subject himself claimed caused his conversion-a new-found faith. An epilogue on Vatican-Jewish relations since the Holocaust does not render much praise for the former. Certain good words have been said and written and too little is noted about their positive impact, which is more powerful than the authors allow for. But the move to canonize Edith Stein as a Catholic Holocaust martyr (a nun who converted to Christianity and who was murdered at Auschwitz clearly because ofherJewish background) is properly questioned. So is the completed canonization of Father Maximilian Kolbe who died heroically at Auschwitz but did leave behind a legacy tainted with antisemitism. Why are these two the first to be made saints when others, particularly rescuers ofJews who are so deserving of at least consideration, are overlooked? Many of us Catholics ask such questions with great seriousness. The writers add to this the Auschwitz Convent controversy, the papal reception of Kurt Waldheim, the Austrian president, and then cannot help but wonder if Elie Wiesel's insight, that John Paul II wants to "dejudaize" the Shoah, is not on target. Given the subject matter, the book could hardly be uninteresting. Weisbord and Sillanpoa are careful not to sensationalize. While having a point of view, they nevertheless achieve a fair assessment of their subject. Still, there is a lot of conjecture in the volume. Words and phrases like "probably," "the evidence is skimpy," "it is possible," "might have come," "we can only wonder if," "almost certain," "perhaps," and "in all likelihood" appear a little too often. In spite of these caveats, this work is well conceived, shows excellent scholarship, and is a valuable contribution to both Holocaust literature and the literature ofJewish-Christian relations. Harry James Cargas Department of Literature and Language Webster University The Economic Origins of Anti-Semitism: Poland and Its Jews in the Early Modem Period, by Hillel Levine. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1991. 271 pp. $30.00. The two-hundredth anniversary of the May 3 Constitution encouraged Hillel Levine to look at early modern Poland in order to gain a better understanding of antisemitism in the modern world. He concludes that 182 SHOFAR Winter 1993 Vol. 11, No.2 Poland failed to make the tranSItion to modernity that Revolutionary France succeeded in making and, as a result, failed to follow the "western" model of integrating the Jews into its citizenry. Levine hints elusively in his conclusion that the Polish model of "economic anti-Semitism" spread across the continent in the form of fascistic "reactionary modernism" with disastrous effect on-the Jews. Levine finds the origins of modern antisemitism to be economic rather than religious. From about 1500 to 1650, Poland prospered by exporting grain to western Europe, but the decline of the grain trade after about 1650 led the nobles to gain their cash incomes by selling liquor to the peasants, chiefly through the creation of local liquor monopolies leased out to Jews. To bolster their self-image, Polish nobles idealized the feudal system that they themselves were undercutting and rejected the emerging rational world view that Western Europe was increasingly adopting. A5 a result, Polish nobles failed to undertake innovative modernization. They despised the Jews they employed as unproductive money-grubbers and persecuted them. Levine explains that the Polish nobility failed to break out of its feudal habits of thought because it retained the nominalist variant of Catholic scholasticism that defined money as a fixed value rather than as a useful tool. Adoption of more pragmatic"realist" traditions allowed Protestant England and Holland (as well as Huguenot-influenced France) to gain economic primacy in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Levine's interesting examination of Jewish theology brings him to conclude that Jewish attitudes towards money and exchange were sufficiently flexible to promote business innovation, although circumstances encouraged only short-term investments. Levine devotes a major section of his book to the period of the Polish partitions and the constitution of May 3, 1791. Polish and many,Jewish historians celebrate its progressive intentions and achievements, but Levine finds it dominated by a conservative backlash. Would-be reformers merely...


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