Each was effective in his own way, and Read’s narrative gives Hitler’s lieutenants their due for their roles in making the...



Hermann Göring to Heinrich Himmler, April 1945: “Herr Reich Marshal . . . if anything should prevent you from succeeding the Führer—say you are eliminated—can I have the position?”

Adolf Hitler may have been close to the definitive self-made man, but he did not come into or maintain his power single-handedly. Far from it: without the early support of power-hungry men such as Ernst Röhm and Rudolf Hess, he might never have maneuvered his way from obscurity to Germany’s chancellorship. In this very long but unflagging study, English historian Read sharpens the focus on these lieutenants such that Hitler sometimes seems absent from the scene altogether. “Each member of Hitler’s inner circle,” Read writes, “was deeply and totally besotted, desperate to please him, and bitterly jealous of any attention he bestowed on other suitors”—a rivalry that Hitler found most useful, inasmuch as it prevented his juniors from forming alliances that could be turned against him. One such junior was Himmler, a party stalwart from the first, who asserted that he would shoot his own mother if the Führer commanded. Another was Joseph Goebbels, a genius at telling lies and having them believed; for instance, some 5,000 Jews survived the war in Berlin itself, “protected by sympathetic Berliners,” even as Goebbels insisted that the city was “Jew-free.” Another was Alfred Rosenberg, theoretician and de facto leader of the early Nazi party while Hitler was imprisoned, who, Read memorably writes, “was cold, arrogant, and boring beyond belief.” Yet another was Göring, the most militarily accomplished of the Nazis, who ordered the murder of his old friend, Hitler’s rival Röhm, in 1934, explaining to his American captors after the war, “But he was in my way . . .”

Each was effective in his own way, and Read’s narrative gives Hitler’s lieutenants their due for their roles in making the Nazi state the efficient death machine that it was—squabbling with one another all the while and endlessly jockeying for position.

Pub Date: March 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-393-04800-4

Page Count: 986

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2003

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


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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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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