HITLER'S CHILDREN

SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF LEADERS OF THE THIRD REICH TALK ABOUT THEMSELVES AND THEIR FATHERS

Posner (Mengele, 1986; The Warlord's Crime, 1988) spent a long time searching for the offspring of some of Hitler's henchmen. Despite meeting angry rebuffs, he did find some who would reveal what it was like to grow up in a Nazi family; here, skillfully edited and reported, are their stories. Almost every chapter dwells on one of the Nazi elite as seen from the vantage point of a child. One is startled to read a description of a mass-murdering Nazi leader as a ``loving father.'' Wolfe Hess defends his father Rudolf as a ``man of peace'' who was wrongfully imprisoned and murdered by his Allied guards; Hans Frank, the ``Butcher of Poland,'' is condemned by one son but admired by another; the gross egotist Goering is still beloved by his daughter Edda; and children of Mengele—the ``Angel of Death'' of Auschwitz—and of Donitz (Hitler's successor) and others appear unrepentant while remembering the glory days of the Third Reich as the ``good time.'' The only uplifting narrative is the portrait of the brave and highly gifted aristocrat Count Claus von Stauffenberg, a cultured soldier who led the failed attempt on Hitler's life and who was executed as a traitor to Nazi Germany. He is revered in his children's memory as a heroic and humane father. Though adding little to the historical record, Posner's absorbing human-interest sketches speak clearly of the deep emotional reactions of those who must bear their terrible burdens of inherited guilt.

Pub Date: May 13, 1991

ISBN: 0-394-58299-3

Page Count: 280

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1991

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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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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