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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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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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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