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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This rewarding literary Baedeker will inspire readers to discover new places.


A modern-day Phileas Fogg circumnavigates the globe in books.

Damrosch, chair of the department of comparative literature at Harvard and founder of its Institute for World Literature, mimics Jules Verne’s ambitious itinerary of world travel from east to west as he delves into 16 geographical groups of five books “that have responded to times of crises and deep memories of trauma,” navigating “our world’s turbulent water with the aid of literature’s map of imaginary times and places.” As he moves along, delving into plots, characters, and themes, and both prose and poetry, over centuries, he creates a vast, fascinating latticework of books within books. He begins in London, with “one of the most local of novels” and “one of the most worldly books ever written,” Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, which depicts a city that “bears more than a passing reference to Conrad’s heart of darkness.” Paris and Krakow are followed by “Venice–Florence,” with the old (Marco Polo, Dante, and Boccaccio) and the modern, Italo Calvino’s “magical, unclassifiable” Invisible Cities. Just like Damrosch’s own book, Calvino’s work views “the modern world through multiple lenses of worlds elsewhere.” Orhan Pamuk’s My Name Is Red is “a vibrant hybrid that re-creates a vanished Ottoman past for present purposes,” while Jokha Alharthi’s Celestial Bodies “portrays life in a fully globalized Oman.” Traveling along at a brisk pace, Damrosch takes us to the Congo, Israel/Palestine, Calcutta and “Shanghai–Beijing,” before arriving in Tokyo, where he examines Japan’s “greatest, and strangest” writer, Yukio Mishima, and the “incommensurabilityof ancient and modern eras, Asian and European traditions, that fuels” his work. Brazil is home to one of the “most worldly of local writers,” Clarice Lispector, whose “remarkable short story collection,” Family Ties, the author admires. In Robert McCloskey’s One Morning in Maine, Damrosch fondly revisits a book he enjoyed as a child. Other writers serving as stops on his international tour include Joyce, Atwood, Voltaire, Rushdie, and Soyinka.

This rewarding literary Baedeker will inspire readers to discover new places.

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-29988-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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In this meticulously detailed and evocative book, history comes alive, and it isn’t pretty.


A meditation on Austria’s capitulation to the Nazis. The book won the 2017 Prix Goncourt.

Vuillard (Sorrow of the Earth: Buffalo Bill, Sitting Bull and the Tragedy of Show Business, 2017, etc.) is also a filmmaker, and these episodic vignettes have a cinematic quality to them. “The play is about to begin,” he writes on the first page, “but the curtain won’t rise….Even though the twentieth of February 1933 was not just any other day, most people spent the morning grinding away, immersed in the great, decent fallacy of work, with its small gestures that enfold a silent, conventional truth and reduce the entire epic of our lives to a diligent pantomime.” Having established his command of tone, the author proceeds through devastating character portraits of Hitler and Goebbels, who seduced and bullied their appeasers into believing that short-term accommodations would pay long-term dividends. The cold calculations of Austria’s captains of industries and the pathetic negotiations of leaders who knew that their protestations were mainly for show suggest the complicated complicity of a country where young women screamed for Hitler as if he were a teen idol. “The bride was willing; this was no rape, as some have claimed, but a proper wedding,” writes Vuillard. Yet the consummation was by no means as smoothly triumphant as the Nazi newsreels have depicted. The army’s entry into Austria was less a blitzkrieg than a mechanical breakdown, one that found Hitler stalled behind the tanks that refused to move as those prepared to hail his emergence wondered what had happened. “For it wasn’t only a few isolated tanks that had broken down,” writes the author, “not just the occasional armored truck—no, it was the vast majority of the great German army, and the road was now entirely blocked. It was like a slapstick comedy!” In the aftermath, some of those most responsible for Austria’s fall faced death by hanging, but at least one received an American professorship.

In this meticulously detailed and evocative book, history comes alive, and it isn’t pretty.

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-59051-969-1

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Other Press

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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