“He Is Basically a Decent Man”

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Abstract

Coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the murder of Lazarus Averbuch, a young Jewish survivor of the Kishinev pogrom of 1903, who was killed in Chicago in 1908, Aleksandar Hemon published “The Lazarus Project” (2008), a novel that is greatly based on the life and death of this Russian-Jew immigrant. This article examines the historical framework within which The Lazarus Project was written, focusing on (1) how the devastating effects of the Kishinev pogrom of 1903 on the local population made many Jews like Lazarus emigrate and (2) the socio-political tensions found in the United States of the 1900s due to the pervasive fear of anarchism that terrorized many Americans at the turn of the 20th century.