A well-researched book that clarifies many misconceptions.




A new look at Hitler’s secret state police as a smaller crack force than is widely known, relying on the work of German citizen informers.

A historian specializing in World War II and the Third Reich, McDonough (Sophie Scholl: Heroine of the German Resistance, 2009, etc.) offers a nuanced study of the Geheime Staatspolizei, or Gestapo, which by 1939 had merged the various police forces for Nazi Germany and was empowered with rooting out subversive and “anti-social” elements. The author reminds us that the galvanizing force in the initial creation of the Gestapo was Hitler’s need to suppress forces of communism in the government, and four key figures would achieve control over all of the security services: Hermann Göring and Rudolf Diels in Prussia and Heinrich Himmler and Reinhard Heydrich in Bavaria. McDonough delineates how the “Night of the Long Knives” of June 30, 1934, brutally eliminated any opposition to the Gestapo, including the murder of Ernst Röhm, leader of the storm troopers. Under the directorship of Heinrich Müller, the Gestapo proceeded with lethal efficiency, enlisting for its officers the most educated men, such as law graduates, and offering quick promotion of young people, which “gave the regime its energetic radicalism.” The rank-and-file members were lower-class career policemen and not necessarily avid members of the Nazi Party. After sketching the makeup of the organization, the author then delves into the victims of the secret police force who posed a danger to the state and its increasingly draconian racial laws. The victims included religious objectors, mostly Catholics and Jehovah’s Witnesses (Protestants and Evangelicals tended to be pro-Nazi); communists, who had been the passionate voice of the German industrial working class in the Weimar era; “social outsiders” such as criminals and homosexuals; and such “racial enemies” as Gypsies and Jews. McDonough devotes an entire chilling chapter to the makeup of the informers, who were mostly middle- and upper-class citizens.

A well-researched book that clarifies many misconceptions.

Pub Date: March 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5107-1465-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 7, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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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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