I do not take Himmelfarb to dissent from this analysis. She seeks instead to elaborate upon it, writing up the principal moments of English philo-Semitism's history. These she traces from Oliver Cromwell through to Winston Churchill-that is, from 17th-century readmission advocates to 20th-century Anglo-Zionists or "philo-Zionists". Such an undertaking does not require, she believes, an examination of "all the species of philo-Semitism, in all their manifestations and complexities." What is needed instead, she implies, is essentially a series of portraits of worthy men and women, whose example may be followed, making due allowance for present circumstances. Himmelfarb thus has an expressly political object. She wishes to revive something that once flourished, and it is hard to do this while at the same time conceding too many "anomalies and ambivalences", as she terms the often somewhat less than straightforwardly positive accounts of Jews given by her philo-Semites. She is too scrupulous a writer, however, to overlook them altogether.
Himmelfarb passes from the question of the readmission of the Jews to England to the question of the admission of Jews to Parliament, and then moves forward to an account of that great swelling of public sentiment in favour of a Jewish homeland. No ready apologist for anything that might merely pass as philo-Semitic, Himmelfarb is alive to the criticism made of Anglo-Zionists that they sought a place for Jews anywhere other than in England itself. She finds the earliest intimation of this sentiment in the utopianism of the mid-17th political theorist, Richard Harrington. His Oceania excludes Jews, settling them instead in the inferior or "degenerate" island of Panopea.
There is much of interest in The People of the Book, though I for one would have been happy to be spared the plot summaries of Maria Edgeworth's Harrington, Scott's Ivanhoe, Disraeli's Tancred, and George Eliot's Daniel Deronda, all instances, writes Himmelfarb, of the genre of the philo-Semitic novel. I would have preferred her instead to have considered more fully the character of philo-Semitism as a general stance or orientation. Identifying all its iterations, across the generations of philoSemites from Keti'ah bar Shalom of Talmudic times to Julie Burchill of our own times, would no doubt be the scholarly labour of a lifetime. But a summary definition, with some glossing, would not be anything like so burdensome and would have assisted this reader, at any rate, in reaching a judgment on the contributions made by the various individuals celebrated in Himmelfarb's book.