A compact and cogent academic account of the Holocaust.

THE HOLOCAUST

HISTORY AND MEMORY

In less than 250 pages, a prolific scholar takes on the intractably difficult themes of the Holocaust.

Historiographer Black (History/Univ. of Exeter; Geopolitics and the Quest for Dominance, 2015, etc.) generally attempts to avoid emotion, “an abstraction that means smashing living babies’ skulls against walls,” in writing about ultimately incomprehensible genocide. Rather, writing in a scholarly tone, he recounts the genesis and the largely effective policy of Jewish extermination, which was the prime tenet of Nazi ideology. He touches on such matters as the Wannsee Conference and the effort to make Europe Judenfrei in a Final Solution. However, not all Jews died in the camps; millions were simply shot in the streets and fields of Europe, exterminated by the Einsatzgruppen, the mobile killing units, and others, many of whom kept extensive records even before such murder was industrialized. Black dismisses as implausible the claim of ignorance by the German population, who, at the time, had widespread information. The Allied forces, including the United States, did not consider the Final Solution a primary target of the war. In such a short book, the author covers a remarkable amount of well-documented material. Certainly, there must remain much that is unreported in his summary of events that led to the deaths of 6 million Jews, and there will be many readers to remember what is missing from his wide-ranging presentation. What is of particular note, along with the review of the anti-Semitic activities of Hitler’s allies and conquests, is the memorialization of the Holocaust around the world both after the war and today. Black is especially astute in his consideration of the current rise of anti-Semitism in Europe and the Middle East as well as the facile tendency to label diverse events as Holocausts.

A compact and cogent academic account of the Holocaust.

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-253-02204-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Indiana Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

TOMBSTONE

THE EARP BROTHERS, DOC HOLLIDAY, AND THE VENDETTA RIDE FROM HELL

Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more