Best read with Telford Taylor’s memoir The Anatomy of the Nuremberg Trials (1993)—or, better yet, Joseph E. Persico’s...




Judgment at Nuremberg was far messier than the public suspected at the time, according to this American prosecutor’s pungent view of the controversial trial.

In his last two decades, Thomas J. Dodd (1907–1971) represented Connecticut in Congress and the Senate. Yet for all his success, he correctly guessed, toward the end of a year trying Nazi war criminals, that he would “never do anything as worthwhile again.” Indeed, he was defeated in his Senate re-election bid in 1970, after censure by colleagues for misusing campaign funds—a loss that, his family believes, contributed to a fatal heart attack a year later. Son Christopher—now himself a senator and currently a Democratic candidate for president—hopes with this book to restore luster to this tarnished reputation. And well he might: In more than 300 letters written almost daily to wife Grace—rediscovered years after their deaths in the basement of daughter Martha—Thomas Dodd produced not only one of the first contemporaneous accounts by a major figure at the tribunal, but one that usually shows him at his best. The most vivid letters recount Dodd’s debriefing sessions with former Nazi ringleaders (Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop “looked like a Bowery character to me.”) Frustrated by the “maelstrom of incompetence” created by military lawyers, the civilian Dodd was ready to quit when the chief American prosecutor, Associate Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, asked him to become second in command. Though Dodd learned to balance Jackson’s lackluster management and cross-examination skills against the justice’s integrity and eloquence, he railed against trial judge Francis Biddle for “doing the Nazi handiwork now.” This correspondence gives a man in full, brimming with intelligence, peevishness over slights from his state’s Democratic power brokers, exhaustion, bulldog tenacity and, above all, love for the wife he called “my inspiration and my consolation.”

Best read with Telford Taylor’s memoir The Anatomy of the Nuremberg Trials (1993)—or, better yet, Joseph E. Persico’s Nuremberg: Infamy on Trial (1994)—but a timely reminder that the rule of law, not vengeance, must apply, no matter how heinous the crime. See also Norbert Ehrenfreund’s impassioned work, The Nuremberg Legacy: How the Nazi War Crime Trials Changed the Course of History (2007).

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-307-38116-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 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...


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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