A strong contribution to the historical literature surrounding WWII and the Nazi era; indeed, one of the most significant to...

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THE WAGES OF DESTRUCTION

THE MAKING AND BREAKING OF THE NAZI ECONOMY

A sprawling history that ably fulfills its intention “to reposition economics at the centre of our understanding of Hitler’s regime.”

In the 1930s, writes Tooze (Economic History/Cambridge Univ.), Germany’s economy was comparable to Iran’s or South Africa’s today, of middling importance internationally but regionally influential. Well into the Hitler years, Germany still had 15 million people employed making traditional handicrafts or engaging in peasant agriculture—and well along, for all the mechanized blitzkrieg, German war-planners figured that the army would need to employ one horse for every four soldiers. Tooze opens with a footnote to history, namely, the planned sequel to Mein Kampf, in which Hitler projected that an Anglo-German alliance would conquer the east and fend off the threat that the US posed to Europe; Britain’s failure to jump at the opportunity meant that Hitler had to undertake the project with lesser partners. Tooze observes that the Nazi armaments program—made possible by defaulting on US loans and reparation payments—was the largest transfer of resources ever made in peacetime in a capitalist economy; even so, he adds, Germany lacked the resources financial and natural to sustain an army that could defeat all the enemies it courted. Though Hitler from the start had advanced an economic program meant to help Germany’s poor, and though he paid for the war machine not by taxation but by a steady project of rationing and “rationalization,” the chief beneficiaries of his policies were rich and major corporations such as I.G. Farben and Porsche. And anyone who paid attention could have seen the war coming: Though it was on its face economically ruinous, Hitler had demanded in 1936 that the “German economy must be fit for war within four years,” and the state and economy obliged as best they could.

A strong contribution to the historical literature surrounding WWII and the Nazi era; indeed, one of the most significant to arrive in recent years.

Pub Date: April 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-670-03826-1

Page Count: 832

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2007

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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

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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