A riveting tale of the previously unknown and fascinating story of the unsung angels who strove to foil the Final Solution.



Beyond the well-known work of Oskar Schindler and Raoul Wallenberg, Wallace (The American Axis: Henry Ford, Charles Lindbergh, and the Rise of the Third Reich, 2003) sets out to tell the story of the staggering network built by a Swiss-based rescue group.

This small band worked tirelessly, giving of their lives and fortunes to save the Jews interned by the Nazis. Working with and against unbelieving ministers of Allied countries, Zionists and anti-Zionists, Orthodox and secular Jews, Catholics, outcasts, and even some Nazis, they saved tens of thousands of lives. Desperate attempts to convince the Allies to help—even to bomb railway lines to Auschwitz—met with nothing but frustration, as they were told that the priority was to win the war, not save lives. Even the Red Cross claimed that the Nazi treatment of Jews was an internal matter. The mutual suspicion and traditional divisions between secular and religious Jewish communities provided rifts that unfortunately often undermined some of their valiant attempts. Though many of the names will be unfamiliar to most readers—Recha and Isaac Sternbuch, Gerhart Riegner, Jean-Marie Musy, Joel Brand, Rudolf Kasztner—their work was indispensable, and the author brings them to well-deserved light. From physically saving refugees in Switzerland to providing false passports and visas to Italy or China, even a few to Palestine, small efforts grew into a larger, wider, and more desperate movement. In Slovenia, organizers hatched a plan to ransom prisoners, and the connection of a Finnish osteopath brought them to Heinrich Himmler, the architect of the Holocaust. Himmler knew, as many Nazis did but were terrified to admit, that the war was lost. Himmler attempted to work with them to close the camps, but his fear of Hitler was palpable. Throughout, Wallace introduces readers to a host of inspiring heroes, most of whom were quiet and unassuming yet intensely dedicated to saving European Jewry.

A riveting tale of the previously unknown and fascinating story of the unsung angels who strove to foil the Final Solution.

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5107-3497-5

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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The value of this book is the context it provides, in a style aimed at a concerned citizenry rather than fellow academics,...


A provocative analysis of the parallels between Donald Trump’s ascent and the fall of other democracies.

Following the last presidential election, Levitsky (Transforming Labor-Based Parties in Latin America, 2003, etc.) and Ziblatt (Conservative Parties and the Birth of Democracy, 2017, etc.), both professors of government at Harvard, wrote an op-ed column titled, “Is Donald Trump a Threat to Democracy?” The answer here is a resounding yes, though, as in that column, the authors underscore their belief that the crisis extends well beyond the power won by an outsider whom they consider a demagogue and a liar. “Donald Trump may have accelerated the process, but he didn’t cause it,” they write of the politics-as-warfare mentality. “The weakening of our democratic norms is rooted in extreme partisan polarization—one that extends beyond policy differences into an existential conflict over race and culture.” The authors fault the Republican establishment for failing to stand up to Trump, even if that meant electing his opponent, and they seem almost wistfully nostalgic for the days when power brokers in smoke-filled rooms kept candidacies restricted to a club whose members knew how to play by the rules. Those supporting the candidacy of Bernie Sanders might take as much issue with their prescriptions as Trump followers will. However, the comparisons they draw to how democratic populism paved the way toward tyranny in Peru, Venezuela, Chile, and elsewhere are chilling. Among the warning signs they highlight are the Republican Senate’s refusal to consider Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee as well as Trump’s demonization of political opponents, minorities, and the media. As disturbing as they find the dismantling of Democratic safeguards, Levitsky and Ziblatt suggest that “a broad opposition coalition would have important benefits,” though such a coalition would strike some as a move to the center, a return to politics as usual, and even a pragmatic betrayal of principles.

The value of this book is the context it provides, in a style aimed at a concerned citizenry rather than fellow academics, rather than in the consensus it is not likely to build.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6293-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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