An eerily engaging life’s work by a dogged researcher that adds materially to the Holocaust documentation.

MENGELE

UNMASKING THE "ANGEL OF DEATH"

A chilling biography of the terrifying doctor who led a charmed life through the Nazi ranks—and eluded justice for decades.

“In 1985,” writes Marwell, “while working in the Office of Special Investigations at the U.S. Department of Justice, I was assigned to the international investigation to locate Mengele and bring him before a court of law.” Though the author, the former director of the Museum of Jewish Heritage, explores Mengele’s life and experiments at Auschwitz, he concentrates on his postwar flight and his ability to resist detection as a war criminal and reinvent himself in South America—a journey largely funded by his family’s manufacturing firm back in Germany. Trained in Germany’s finest schools, Mengele became a medical doctor with an intense interest in anthropology and racial science, and he was influenced by the prominent anthropologist Theodor Mollison, who focused on “racial science.” At the infamous Frankfurt Institute in the late 1930s, Mengele’s dissertation on the heritability of oral clefts “served to underpin” the Nazi legislation enforcing sterilization to prevent “diseased offspring,” resulting in 375,000 forced sterilizations. As World War II intensified, Mengele transitioned from scientist to soldier and became a combat physician. After experiencing “extreme brutality” with the SS Viking Division, he was transferred to Auschwitz in May 1943. There, he conducted scientific experiments with “unprecedented resources,” which allowed him to “surmount the barriers that traditional medical ethics and basic humanity placed in his way.” His heinous experiments are well documented, as are his movements in the final days of the war and afterward. How did it take so long to find such a highly ranked Nazi war criminal who had reestablished his name in 1956 in Argentina and resumed practicing medicine? Marwell engrossingly describes the capture process as highly political, involving American, Israeli, and German government groups. He ends with an account of the unsettling visit (revealed in letters) by Mengele’s son to see his unrepentant father in 1977.

An eerily engaging life’s work by a dogged researcher that adds materially to the Holocaust documentation.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-393-60953-0

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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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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