A welcome reassessment of a monumental trial.


Lipstadt (Modern Jewish History and Holocaust Studies/Emory Univ.; History on Trial: My Day in Court with David Irving, 2005, etc.) revisits the historic trial of the man in the glass booth.

Kidnapped in Buenos Aires, where he was working at a Mercedes-Benz assembly plant, the high-ranking Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann was tried and sentenced to death by an Israeli court in 1961 for his role in the Jewish genocide. In this authoritative book, published to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the trial, the author offers a concise account of the courtroom drama, from the prosecutor’s opening statement (“With me in this place and at this hour, stand six million accusers”) to the testimony of survivors about mass shootings and deportations to death camps. Despite incriminating evidence, Eichmann showed no remorse for his actions, insisted he was following orders and gave incomprehensible speeches that remain maddening to anyone reading the transcripts today. Many observers found the defendant dull—an “automaton…who failed to understand that what he had done was wrong” according to political theorist Hannah Arendt, who covered the trial for the New Yorker. Others, writes Lipstadt, discerned Eichmann’s passion and rage. Faulting Arendt’s controversial view of Eichmann as a bureaucrat who showed no “fanatical anti-Semitism” and exemplified “the banality of evil,” Lipstadt argues that a deep-seated Jewish hatred animates both perpetrators and deniers of the Holocaust. She notes that Arendt—whose perspective informs the thinking of many—treated historical data haphazardly and refused to acknowledge anti-Semitism’s fundamental role in the Holocaust. The author draws nicely on her experiences as defendant in a 2000 libel suit brought against her by author David Irving, whom she had described as a leading Holocaust denier. Lipstadt writes that intense worldwide coverage of the Eichmann trial brought the term “Holocaust” into the lexicon for the first time, and greatly accelerated the growth of scholarly study of the Final Solution.

A welcome reassessment of a monumental trial.

Pub Date: March 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8052-4260-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Schocken

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2011

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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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