A valiant but not fully successful attempt to rehabilitate the reputation of “Hitler’s pope.”

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THE POPE'S JEWS

THE VATICAN'S SECRET PLAN TO SAVE JEWS FROM THE NAZIS

A defense of the pope who got a bad rap for his public silence on Jewish persecution in Rome during World War II.

While reading prolific English writer Thomas’ (Operation Exodus: From the Nazi Death Camps to the Promised Land, 2010, etc.) dramatized account of Pius XII’s backroom dealing to help the Jews, readers come away with the impression that the new pope was endowed with a mission by the moribund Pius XI on his deathbed to campaign against anti-Semitism and subsequently pursued little else during the duration of the war. Yet Pius XII deliberately resolved that “there must be no public denunciation by the church” of Nazi persecution, supposedly to work more effectively behind the scenes for Jews to escape and also to sustain the tenuous Vatican neutrality. In his episodic, fast-paced narrative, Thomas cuts among scenes involving an array of international characters who were agitating against the Nazis during the war years, such as the leaders of Rome’s ancient Jewish ghetto, British and American diplomats, members of the anti-fascist resistance, spies and helpful Vatican priests. Events move at a breakneck pace, from Mussolini’s embrace of Nazi Germany, bombing by the Americans, the Abwehr director Wilhelm Canaris’ courting of the pope for a secret assassination plot of Hitler, and Hitler’s own crazy plot to abduct the pope. The plot culminated in the extortion of gold from the Jewish community and the horrific Gestapo roundup of thousands of Jews in October 1943. And still the pope remained silent. Thomas offers secondhand accounts such as by Pius’ devoted Bavarian housekeeper Sister Pascalina Lehnert, and though many illustrious voices have defended the pope’s record, it is not all entirely convincing.

A valiant but not fully successful attempt to rehabilitate the reputation of “Hitler’s pope.”

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-312-60421-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 7, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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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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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

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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