A full, lucid, and moving biography of the Nazi hunter who became the ``unwelcome conscience'' of post-Holocaust Europe. Pick, diplomatic editor and feature writer of the Guardian since 1961, got Simon Wiesenthal's cooperation for this biography without ceding editorial control. This allows the author, who has long covered the careers of Wiesenthal and fellow Austrians Kurt Waldheim and Bruno Kreisky, to go well beyond her subject's published memoirs, The Murderers Among Us (1967) and Justice Not Vengeance (1990). While recording Wiesenthal's monumental achievements in both tracking down Nazi war criminals and protecting the history of the Holocaust, Pick does not refrain from painting her subject as egotistical, inconsiderate, and ``unsuited to teamwork.'' As a young man, Wiesenthal seemed headed for a career as an architect. The war changed everything. Pick provides some psychological clues to Wiesenthal's obsession with preserving Holocaust memory, including the trauma he felt at not being there when his mother was seized. His photographic memory, facility with languages, and tenacity combined with uncanny luck to preserve him from firing squads and crematoria lines (he spent time in 13 concentration camps), place him with an American war crimes unit after the war and, eventually, on the world stage, where he did battle with the likes of Adolf Eichmann, Dr. Josef Mengele, the Israeli Mossad, the Vatican, other Nazi hunters, the World Jewish Congress, and Bruno Kreisky. Providing a moving glimpse into the private life of this international icon, Pick quotes wife Cyla complaining, ``I am not married to a man. I am married to thousands, or maybe millions of dead.'' There is no more disturbing memory for the West than that of the genocidal atrocities committed in WW II, and no more disturbing—and decorated—guardian of this memory than the complex man depicted here. (40 illustrations, not seen)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 1996

ISBN: 1-55553-273-X

Page Count: 349

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1996

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet