Dara Horn
People Love Dead Jews by Dara Horn

People Love Dead Jews

Reports from a Haunted Present

A startling exploration of how Jewish history is exploited to flatter the living

Reflecting on subjects as far-flung as the international veneration of Anne Frank, the blockbuster traveling exhibition called Auschwitz,” the Jewish history of the Chinese city of Harbin, and the little known righteous Gentile” Varian Fry, Dara Horn challenges us to confront the reasons why there might be so much fascination with Jewish deaths, as emblematic of the worst of evils the world has to offer, and so little respect for Jewish lives, as they continue to unfold in the present.

Horn draws on her own family’s life — trying to explain Shakespeare’s Shylock to a curious 10-year-old, her anger when swastikas are drawn on desks at her children’s school in New Jersey, the profound and essential perspective offered by traditional religious practice, prayer, and study — to assert the vitality, complexity, and depth of this life against an anti-Semitism that, far from being disarmed by the mantra of Never forget,” is on the rise.

So necessary… People Love Dead Jews is an outstanding book with a bold mission. It criticizes people, artworks and public institutions that few others dare to challenge.”

The New York Times

This is one of those unexpected, memorable books… riveting, gorgeously written.”

The Washington Post

This is a beautiful book, and in its particular genre– nonfiction meditations on the murder of Jews, particularly in the Holocaust, and the place of the dead in the American imagination –it can have few rivals. In fact, I can’t think of any. … [O]né-of-a-kind gorgeousness.”

The Wall Street Journal

Searing… Enlivened by Horn’s sharp sense of humor and fluid prose, this penetrating account will provoke soul-searching by Jews and non-Jews alike.” 

Publisher’s Weekly (starred review)

People Love Dead Jews is, of all things, a deeply entertaining book, from its whopper of a title on… Horn is a masterful essayist… She has the instincts of a stand-up comic with something deadly serious on her mind.”

Tablet Magazine

Brilliantly readable… Readers will be enthralled throughout by the fierce logic of Horn’s arguments, novelty of research, black humor, and sharp phrasing… A riveting, radical, essential revision of the stories we all know — and some we don’t.”

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

There is an immediacy to her writing that makes it seem like everything she addresses is happening at once, even though the incidents described may be separated by centuries… Wrestling with Horn’s ideas makes for a rich experience… Profound.”

Booklist (starred review)

How can a book filled with anger, a book about anti-Semitism and entitled People Love Dead Jews, be delectable at the same time? The novelist Dara Horn has done it… At turns caustic and comic, at others filled with outrage, People Love Dead Jews will have readers turning pages with her.”


Dara Horn’s thoughtful, incisive essays constitute a searing investigation of modern-day antisemitism, in all its disguises and complications. No matter where Horn casts her acute critical eye from the ruins of the Jewish community in Harbin, China, to the tragedy at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue the reports she brings back are at once surprising and enlightening and necessary.”

Ruth Franklin, author of Shirley Jackson and A Thousand Darknesses

Dara Horn has an uncommon mastery of the literary essay, and she applies it here with a relentless, even furious purpose. Horn makes well-worn debates on Anne Frank and Hannah Arendt, for instance newly provocative and urgent. Her best essays are by turns tragic and comic, and her magnificent mini-biography of Varian Fry alone justifies paying the full hardcover price.”

Tom Reiss, author of The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo

A moving, meditative, well-written book… Horn’s writing is engaging from start to finish.”

Library Journal