Summary of Capitalism and the Jews

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Capitalism and the Jews book summary
Four erudite essays explain how interactions between capitalism and the Jews shaped modern life.


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Good etiquette advises that discussing religion, money and politics with strangers is not prudent, but, fortunately, professor Jerry Z. Muller ignores this maxim. Instead, this broadly published academician presents four exceptional essays assessing the role of Jews in developing capitalism in terms of complex social, historical and religious structures. He wrote the series, which covers centuries of history, over the course of 30 years of study. His combined notes and bibliography alone are 29 pages. Muller tellingly shows the relationships among the political, theological and economic ideas that created some of the best and worst events in modern society. getAbstract highly recommends this enlightening, accessible work of contemporary scholarship.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How Jews helped develop capitalism
  • How church prohibitions of usury shaped the function of medieval Jews
  • How the Jewish economic role evolved in modern history
  • How capitalism sparked both anti-Semitism and Zionism


Complex Reasons
Capitalism has been good for the Jews, and the Jews have been good for capitalism. In the Middle Ages, Jews migrated widely, primarily settling as guests in host nations and functioning as a religious group of merchants in exile. Over the centuries, historical forces, including...
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About the Author

Jerry Z. Muller is professor of history at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. His previous books include The Mind and the Market: Capitalism in Modern European Thought and Adam Smith in His Time and Ours.

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