Though the explorations in mass psychology may not convince all readers, Rhodes exposes the industrial logic that underlies...

MASTERS OF DEATH

THE SS-EINSATZGRUPPEN AND THE INVENTION OF THE HOLOCAUST

A grim tale of the Shoah’s early years, delivered by accomplished journalist and Pulitzer-winning historian Rhodes (Why They Kill, 1999, etc.).

The Final Solution, he acknowledges, was inherent in the founding premises of the Hitler regime, but its mechanisms were refined only gradually, after hastily organized massacres committed by “ordinary men” led to the development of the vastly more efficient death camps. Exploring familiar themes of psychopathology and technology put to evil uses, Rhodes writes that the scarcely controlled violence of the SS Einsatzgruppen in Nazi-occupied portions of Eastern Europe effectively brutalized German soldiers, setting in motion a violent cycle that could become only more virulent: “a vicious circle . . . whereby the perversion of discipline bred increasing barbarism, which in turn further brutalized discipline.” Yet this sort of catch-as-catch-can war on the enemies of the Nazi state was just a shade too nasty for the SS leadership, which worried about creating “neurotics or brutes” on the Eastern Front who might later become disciplinary problems at home. Heinrich Himmler, Rhodes writes, was shocked by witnessing an incident in Russia in which German soldiers lost their nerve and “shot badly,” wounding two Jewish women who writhed before him on the ground; he screamed at the firing squad to put the women out of their misery. Himmler apparently had no such qualms about the bloodless—and, in his estimation, more humane—dispatch of his victims by means of nerve gas, which prompted the development of large-scale killing factories such as Auschwitz and Sobibor. Drawing heavily on first-person accounts and official documents, the author contributes to our understanding of how the Final Solution was put into motion and how it subsequently evolved.

Though the explorations in mass psychology may not convince all readers, Rhodes exposes the industrial logic that underlies modern genocide.

Pub Date: May 21, 2002

ISBN: 0-375-40900-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2002

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

Did you like this book?

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

TOMBSTONE

THE EARP BROTHERS, DOC HOLLIDAY, AND THE VENDETTA RIDE FROM HELL

Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

more