DENYING THE HOLOCAUST

THE GROWING ASSAULT ON TRUTH AND MEMORY

A forceful analysis of attempts to deny the Nazi Holocaust. Lipstadt (Religion/Emory University; Beyond Belief, 1985—not reviewed) traces the history of Holocaust revisionism and contends that it can no longer be ignored, showing how Holocaust-deniers, once dismissed as a lunatic fringe, have been growing in numbers and influence during the past 20 years. Citing groups like the Institute for Historical Review, publications like The Spotlight, politicians like David Duke, and academicians like Leonard Jeffries, Lipstadt presents numerous examples of attempts to prove that the extermination of six million Jews is a hoax; that only a few thousand Jews died in the camps from disease; that the Allied bombings of German cities were worse than any Nazi offense; and that the ``true victims'' of WW II were the German people. These distortions of recorded history, argues the author, threaten to undermine our Western rationalist tradition and to legitimize the politicization of history. To Lipstadt, the common thread among Holocaust deniers is a ``purely anti-Semitic diatribe'' portraying Jews as victimizers. Self-declared scholars like Arthur R. Butz (whose credentials are in electronics) claim that Jews used the world's sympathy after the war to ``displace'' another people, establish the nation of Israel, and ``steal'' billions in reparations from their German and Western ``cash cows.'' Lipstadt argues vehemently against giving revisionists a forum in the name of free speech or freedom of the press, and she details the efforts of California revisionist Bradley Smith, who pushed a ``Holocaust was a hoax'' campaign in college newspapers throughout the US. Lipstadt contends that ``the responses to Holocaust denial by both students and faculty graphically demonstrate the susceptibility of an educated and privileged segment to the kind of reasoning that creates a hospitable climate for the rewriting of history.'' An important, well-documented study that deserves attention.

Pub Date: June 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-02-919235-8

Page Count: 300

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1993

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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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The value of this book is the context it provides, in a style aimed at a concerned citizenry rather than fellow academics,...

HOW DEMOCRACIES DIE

A provocative analysis of the parallels between Donald Trump’s ascent and the fall of other democracies.

Following the last presidential election, Levitsky (Transforming Labor-Based Parties in Latin America, 2003, etc.) and Ziblatt (Conservative Parties and the Birth of Democracy, 2017, etc.), both professors of government at Harvard, wrote an op-ed column titled, “Is Donald Trump a Threat to Democracy?” The answer here is a resounding yes, though, as in that column, the authors underscore their belief that the crisis extends well beyond the power won by an outsider whom they consider a demagogue and a liar. “Donald Trump may have accelerated the process, but he didn’t cause it,” they write of the politics-as-warfare mentality. “The weakening of our democratic norms is rooted in extreme partisan polarization—one that extends beyond policy differences into an existential conflict over race and culture.” The authors fault the Republican establishment for failing to stand up to Trump, even if that meant electing his opponent, and they seem almost wistfully nostalgic for the days when power brokers in smoke-filled rooms kept candidacies restricted to a club whose members knew how to play by the rules. Those supporting the candidacy of Bernie Sanders might take as much issue with their prescriptions as Trump followers will. However, the comparisons they draw to how democratic populism paved the way toward tyranny in Peru, Venezuela, Chile, and elsewhere are chilling. Among the warning signs they highlight are the Republican Senate’s refusal to consider Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee as well as Trump’s demonization of political opponents, minorities, and the media. As disturbing as they find the dismantling of Democratic safeguards, Levitsky and Ziblatt suggest that “a broad opposition coalition would have important benefits,” though such a coalition would strike some as a move to the center, a return to politics as usual, and even a pragmatic betrayal of principles.

The value of this book is the context it provides, in a style aimed at a concerned citizenry rather than fellow academics, rather than in the consensus it is not likely to build.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6293-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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