Aly delivers again, this time expanding his lens outside of Germany to offer further revelations about the Holocaust.

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EUROPE AGAINST THE JEWS, 1880-1945

The award-winning German author dips into his vast archive of resources to produce a major work on anti-Semitism.

Anti-Semitism has been around for centuries. Though occasionally somewhat dormant, usually during times of fiscal strength and political peace, it always returns to rear its ugly head, each time spelling disaster for Jewish populations. Aly—the highly respected historian of the Holocaust who won the 2007 Jewish Book Award for his excellent Hitler's Beneficiaries—examines the period of 1880 to 1945 to show how, why, and in what forms anti-Semitism increased sufficiently to support the Nazi concept of the Final Solution. The author ranges widely across Europe, examining Russia, Romania, France, and Greece as well as Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine, and other less-explored locales. “There is no way we can comprehend the pace and extent of the Holocaust,” writes Aly, “if we restrict our focus to the German centers of command.” While Jews were restricted from many jobs, they applied all their strength and determination to areas that were permitted, such as pharmacology, medicine, and journalism. Governmental actions began with bans on Jews serving municipalities and joining trade associations, and they also experienced limited access to education. After World War I, the concept of self-determination morphed into a brand of nationalism and misguided “racial theory” that led to increased animosity and violence. “Insofar as gentiles in the first half of the twentieth century pressed for Jews to be partially or completely stripped of their civil rights or insisted they be shipped off to somewhere outside Europe,” writes the author, “they were motivated by [an] obsessive anxiety: the fear of a supposedly overwhelming power and the real intellectual and economic agility of a small, precisely delineable ‘foreign’ group.” Though the gruesome subject and detail are sometimes tough to swallow, readers should forge ahead, relishing the author’s incredible research and singular scholarship.

Aly delivers again, this time expanding his lens outside of Germany to offer further revelations about the Holocaust.

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-17017-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Metropolitan/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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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 clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

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WHY WE'RE POLARIZED

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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