While Makari strays from the intensive focus on the term 'xenophobia' in the second half of the book, he does shed light on the many ways human beings turn differences such as religion, race and gender into otherness and use that otherness to justify domination ... Perhaps xenophobic instincts can diminish in some circumstances. By shedding light on the trajectory of xenophobia during its 150-year history, this skillfully written account helps point us toward ways to combat it.
... [a] riveting, painstaking and at times maddeningly overextended meditation on a subject that has vexed human society at least since the dawn of consciousness ... Makari, a psychiatrist and historian, weaves together a fascinating if powerfully disturbing series of examples of stranger hatred (and exploitation) alongside the internal dissent such encounters have always prompted ... The humanizing spirit animating this book and anticipating whatever hard-won progress we can claim looking backward from the 21st century was birthed in this genocidal calamity ... Throughout his analysis, Makari brings an impressive range of reading to bear, wearing his learning lightly and interspersing fascinating capsule biographies of transformational figures like Raphael Lemkin, Carl Schmitt and Theodor Adorno with literary commentary on Aldous Huxley, Richard Wright and James Baldwin ... All the material is enthralling. Yet the sheer number of points of access into a subject so all-encompassing eventually becomes a hindrance. By the last third of the book, as the narrative becomes a kind of At the Existentialist Café-style lightning tour of the postwar intellectual history of the Left Bank, the word 'xenophobia' becomes almost meaningless.
Dr. Makari’s whirlwind historical survey tells a compelling story of racial and ethnic animosity, but he might have paid more attention to religious conflicts ... Dr. Makari suggests that some combination of these psychological and sociological theories may be cobbled together to guide our thinking. This is probably the best that we can manage at present. What then can be done to limit the damage? Here Dr. Makari is less helpful. He suggests that all will be well if society becomes more equal, open and informed. He might as well add that social media should be better regulated, and the public better equipped for critical thought. Failing that, we may have to relive these nightmares of collective hatred again and again for a long time to come.
... challenging ... Makari takes many complex digressions—some enlightening; some not—as he moves toward his goal of analyzing the use of the word 'xenophobia' in today’s public life ... While parts of the book may appeal to general readers desiring to find the roots of today’s widespread xenophobia, taken as a whole it is likely to disappoint those who need an introduction to this noteworthy topic.
... illuminating, significant ... The grandson and child of immigrants, the author is not a detached academic. He clearly demonstrates his emotional connection to the material: How extreme will xenophobia become, and 'who will stand to oppose it? ' ... A timely and thorough investigation of a cultural plague.
... scattershot ... elegantly written, erudite, and often intriguing, but Makari’s concepts of otherness and alienation are so vast that he includes everything from Simone de Beauvoir’s take on sexism to Michel Foucault’s interpretation of madness as critiques of xenophobia. The result is a distended theory that clarifies little by explaining too much.