Fascinating and infuriating corrective to the American mythology of the “Good War.”




Outraged account of how the Cold War created an entree for thousands of ardent Nazis to reinvent themselves as Americans.

Pulitzer Prize–winning New York Times Washington bureau investigative reporter Lichtblau (Bush's Law: The Remaking of American Justice, 2008) writes in an urgent, pulpy style, appropriate to his shadowy tale of “America’s decades of resolute indifference to the Nazis in its backyard.” He deftly manages a rough chronological structure that demonstrates how American views on war criminals fluctuated wildly over time. Beginning with spy chief Allen Dulles’ covert 1945 meeting with the top SS general in Italy, efforts were made on behalf of well-connected Nazis, including the CIA’s “Paperclip” program for top scientists and the “rat line” to South America maintained by anti-Semitic Catholic clergy. Many fugitives worked as anti-communist provocateurs for the CIA during the 1950s, while in the ’60s, J. Edgar Hoover “had no interest in having his agents wasting their time tracking down supposed Nazis in America.” But by the ’70s, owing to efforts by a few crusading journalists and immigration investigators, “Nazis in America were suddenly a hot topic.” The turning point was the 1979 establishment of the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations, which aggressively pursued aging Nazis, like renowned scientist Arthur Rudolph, who’d overseen the V-2 rocket program. Yet with success came backlash; amazingly, the Reagan White House provided Pat Buchanan a platform to attack the investigations and Holocaust research generally. Lichtblau builds suspense by focusing on the long-term fates of individuals like Tom Soobzokov, a power broker among New Jersey Eastern Europeans before being outed as a brutal collaborator; he pushed back aggressively against his accusers and was ultimately killed in a mysterious pipe bombing. Lichtblau utilizes obscure sources and declassified files, tenaciously circling back to a dark reality: Many of the estimated 10,000 Nazis who settled here were involved in the worst aspects of the Holocaust.

Fascinating and infuriating corrective to the American mythology of the “Good War.”

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-0547669199

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2014

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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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A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

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A sharp explanation of how American politics has become so discordant.

Journalist Klein, co-founder of Vox, formerly of the Washington Post, MSNBC, and Bloomberg, reminds readers that political commentators in the 1950s and ’60s denounced Republicans and Democrats as “tweedledum and tweedledee.” With liberals and conservatives in both parties, they complained, voters lacked a true choice. The author suspects that race played a role, and he capably shows us why and how. For a century after the Civil War, former Confederate states, obsessed with keeping blacks powerless, elected a congressional bloc that “kept the Democratic party less liberal than it otherwise would’ve been, the Republican Party congressionally weaker than it otherwise would’ve been, and stopped the parties from sorting themselves around the deepest political cleavage of the age.” Following the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, many white Southern Democrats became Republicans, and the parties turned consistently liberal and conservative. Given a “true choice,” Klein maintains, voters discarded ideology in favor of “identity politics.” Americans, like all humans, cherish their “tribe” and distrust outsiders. Identity was once a preoccupation of minorities, but it has recently attracted white activists and poisoned the national discourse. The author deplores the decline of mass media (network TV, daily newspapers), which could not offend a large audience, and the rise of niche media and internet sites, which tell a small audience only what they want to hear. American observers often joke about European nations that have many parties who vote in lock step. In fact, such parties cooperate to pass legislation. America is the sole system with only two parties, both of which are convinced that the other is not only incompetent (a traditional accusation), but a danger to the nation. So far, calls for drastic action to prevent the apocalypse are confined to social media, fringe activists, and the rhetoric of Trump supporters. Fortunately—according to Klein—Trump is lazy, but future presidents may be more savvy. The author does not conclude this deeply insightful, if dispiriting, analysis by proposing a solution.

A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4767-0032-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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