Synopses & Reviews
Charlie Campbell highlights the plight of all those others who have found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time, illustrating how God needs the Devil as Sherlock Holmes needs Professor Moriarty or James Bond needs "Goldfinger." Scapegoat is a tale of human foolishness that exposes the anger and irrationality of blame-mongering while reminding readers of their own capacity for it. From medieval witch burning to reality TV, this is a brilliantly relevant and timely social history that looks at the obsession, mania, persecution and injustice of scapegoating.
"In this short compendium of scapegoating, Campbell wryly describes how we, as a species, are always looking to blame someone else for our misfortunes. 'We still crave simple explanations for complex happenings,' Campbell writes, but these explanations have often led to tragic situations in which innocents suffer for crimes they didn't commit. The term 'scapegoat' first appeared in William Tyndale's 1530 English translation of the Latin Bible, describing the animals sacrificed as a 'sin offering' on the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur. Tyndale, who was executed for his efforts to circumvent the clergy; Christ; witch hunts; the Holocaust; and the astonishing medieval practice of putting farm animals on trial for sorcery, all exemplify how scapegoats have been made to bear the sins of humanity. The book offers examples organized into thematic chapters (Jewish, Christian, sexual, Communist, medical), which cover ancient to modern times and show how powerful leaders and enemies of the people have always been 'inextricably linked, reverse sides of a coin, one the shadow of the other.' Although Campbell is a witty and engaging writer, the book never develops an argument beyond anecdote, and stops short of delving into why primal hate continues to have so much influence in shaping culture." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
We may have come a long way from the days when a goat as a symbol was saddled with all the iniquities of the children of Israel and driven into the wilderness, but is our desperate need to find some organization or person to pin the blame on and absolve ourselves of responsibility really any more advanced?
About the Author
Charlie Campbell was Deputy Editor of the Literary Review, where he ran the Bad Sex Fiction Prize among other things.