A vital history that draws a direct line from Eastern European antisemitic violence to the Holocaust.



A chillingly thorough study of how the Nazi extermination of Jews was foretold in Ukrainian pogroms 20 years earlier.

Based on extensive research in recently opened archives and newly available witness reports and trial records of the pogroms, Veidlinger—a professor of history and Judaic studies at the University of Michigan and winner of the National Jewish Book Award, among other honors—finds a predictable pattern of scapegoating of Jews for the perceived excesses of Bolshevism. As the author unequivocally shows, the cycle was repeated and expanded by the Nazis two decades later. At the end of World War I, Eastern European boundaries shifted, and Jews deported from the war were displaced. As the Russian Revolution provoked a civil war, tensions in Ukrainian communities were heightened, and Jews became the convenient scapegoats. Hopes for a Ukrainian republic were dashed by Bolshevik incursions, and “militias acting as part of the army of the Ukrainian People’s Republic initiated or authorized attacks on Jewish civilians” under the pretext that “the Jews were planning an uprising to install a Bolshevik government.” More than 100,000 Jews perished during the pogroms, which the author vividly depicts as “public, participatory, and ritualized.” He notes how early on, “they took place in a carnivalesque atmosphere of drunken singing and dancing; crowds allowed for a diffusion of responsibility, drawing in otherwise upright citizens and ordinary people who in different circumstances might not have joined the proceedings.” The White Army, composed of czarist remnants, also attacked the Jews as perceived allies of the Bolsheviks. Veidlinger also chronicles the international outcry at these pogroms, which helped to instigate important Jewish refugee relief programs while also hardening nations like the U.S. against allowing the immigration of desperate Jewish displaced persons. The last part of the book is an elucidating discussion of how the massive refugee problem galvanized the rise of right-wing politics, especially in Germany.

A vital history that draws a direct line from Eastern European antisemitic violence to the Holocaust.

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-11625-3

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Metropolitan/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2021

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A rousing, suspenseful adventure tale.



A harrowing expedition to Antarctica, recounted by Departures senior features editor Sancton, who has reported from every continent on the planet.

On Aug. 16, 1897, the steam whaler Belgica set off from Belgium with young  Adrien de Gerlache as commandant. Thus begins Sancton’s riveting history of exploration, ingenuity, and survival. The commandant’s inexperienced, often unruly crew, half non-Belgian, included scientists, a rookie engineer, and first mate Roald Amundsen, who would later become a celebrated polar explorer. After loading a half ton of explosive tonite, the ship set sail with 23 crew members and two cats. In Rio de Janeiro, they were joined by Dr. Frederick Cook, a young, shameless huckster who had accompanied Robert Peary as a surgeon and ethnologist on an expedition to northern Greenland. In Punta Arenas, four seamen were removed for insubordination, and rats snuck onboard. In Tierra del Fuego, the ship ran aground for a while. Sancton evokes a calm anxiety as he chronicles the ship’s journey south. On Jan. 19, 1898, near the South Shetland Islands, the crew spotted the first icebergs. Rough waves swept someone overboard. Days later, they saw Antarctica in the distance. Glory was “finally within reach.” The author describes the discovery and naming of new lands and the work of the scientists gathering specimens. The ship continued through a perilous, ice-littered sea, as the commandant was anxious to reach a record-setting latitude. On March 6, the Belgica became icebound. The crew did everything they could to prepare for a dark, below-freezing winter, but they were wracked with despair, suffering headaches, insomnia, dizziness, and later, madness—all vividly capture by Sancton. The sun returned on July 22, and by March 1899, they were able to escape the ice. With a cast of intriguing characters and drama galore, this history reads like fiction and will thrill fans of Endurance and In the Kingdom of Ice.

A rousing, suspenseful adventure tale.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-984824-33-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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A valuable contribution to our understanding of one of history’s most vital figures.


An epistolary memoir of Nelson Mandela’s prison years.

From August 1962 to February 1990, Mandela (1918-2013) was imprisoned by the apartheid state of South Africa. During his more than 27 years in prison, the bulk of which he served on the notorious Robben Island prison off the shores of Cape Town, he wrote thousands of letters to family and friends, lawyers and fellow African National Congress members, prison officials, and members of the government. Heavily censored for both content and length, letters from Robben Island and South Africa’s other political prisons did not always reach their intended targets; when they did, the censorship could make them virtually unintelligible. To assemble this vitally important collection, Venter (A Free Mind: Ahmed Kathrada's Notebook from Robben Island, 2006, etc.), a longtime Johannesburg-based editor and journalist, pored through these letters in various public and private archives across South Africa and beyond as well as Mandela’s own notebooks, in which he transcribed versions of these letters. The result is a necessary, intimate portrait of the great leader. The man who emerges is warm and intelligent and a savvy, persuasive, and strategic thinker. During his life, Mandela was a loving husband and father, a devotee of the ANC’s struggle, and capable of interacting with prominent statesmen and the ANC’s rank and file. He was not above flattery or hard-nosed steeliness toward his captors as suited his needs, and he was always yearning for freedom, not only—or even primarily—for himself, but rather for his people, a goal that is the constant theme of this collection and was the consuming vision of his entire time as a prisoner. Venter adds tremendous value with his annotations and introductions to the work as a whole and to the book’s various sections.

A valuable contribution to our understanding of one of history’s most vital figures.

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63149-117-7

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Liveright/Norton

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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