A pragmatic scholarly study that fills in some gaps in the Holocaust literature.

BITTER RECKONING

ISRAEL TRIES HOLOCAUST SURVIVORS AS NAZI COLLABORATORS

An exploration of Holocaust survivors who collaborated with the Nazis, a history that shows “the spectrum of possible types of victims in the Holocaust.”

These are stories of those who served on Jewish councils and police set up by the Nazis and the kapo, a prisoner who supervised other prisoners. Porat (Education/Hebrew Univ.; The Boy: A Holocaust Story, 2010) cites so many instances of the search for scapegoats and the gray zone between the perpetrators and the oppressed that one wonders why it took so long to uncover the full details of these “kapo trials.” The author shows how the trials went through phases, from an initial assessment of Jewish functionaries as equivalent to Nazis to a final perception of them as victims. To deal with accusations and disputes at the end of the war, displaced-persons camps set up honor courts. These courts had no law or statute to rely on and focused on morality and general principles of jurisprudence. Beginning in 1944, there was increasing violence across Palestine, with calls for a court. Police could arrest someone who was accused but were often forced to release them due to lack of a relevant law, and Israel couldn’t prosecute for crimes committed in another country. That situation continued until 1950, when the Knesset passed the Nazi and Nazi Collaborators Punishment Law, which served as the basis for the Eichmann trial. In addition to chronicling the history of the kapo trials and their aftermath, Porat deals with the concept of Israelis as eternal victims and victimhood being used to define their psyche. The author explains the philosophies and procedures involved in a way that encourages readers to see all sides. “As the cases of Jewish functionaries demonstrate,” writes Porat, “the camps contained not only victims and perpetrators but also those who lived in the gray zone.”

A pragmatic scholarly study that fills in some gaps in the Holocaust literature.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-674-98814-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Belknap/Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

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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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

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