Dara Horn
People Love Dead Jews by Dara Horn
Available September 7, 2021

People Love Dead Jews

Reports from a Haunted Present

A startling exploration of how Jewish history is exploited to flatter and comfort 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.


Dara Horn proposes a disturbingly fresh reckoning with an ancient hatred, refusing all categories of victimhood and sentimentality. She offers a passionate display of the self-renewing vitality of Jewish belief and practice. Because anti-Semitism is a Christian problem more than a Jewish one, Christian readers need this book. It is urgently important.”

— James Carroll, author of The Truth at the Heart of the Lie

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