A well-researched and powerful indictment of France’s complicity in the Holocaust.




A re-examination of French collaboration with Nazi occupiers during World War II.

The German occupation of France, between 1940 and 1944, was an unmitigated catastrophe for its Jewish residents. Their wealth was stolen; they were summarily arrested, expelled from their homes, and shuttled to concentration camps to labor and die. Debut author Mack argues that this was only possible because of the active participation of the collaborationist French government, a dark fact not only largely redacted from official French history, but dishonestly replaced with heroic tales of resistance. The author conscientiously traces the historical arc of anti-Semitism in France and discusses the ways Jews became a convenient scapegoat for economic malaise and an explosive immigration crisis. In the first of three sections, Mack takes the reader on an architectural tour of Paris, highlighting the buildings the Nazis took over for their administrative purposes as well as the ways a divided France became complicit in its own abuse. In the second section, the gruesome extermination of the Jews is considered, the culmination of a campaign that began with the deprivation of their civil rights and equality. When the dust settled, more than 73,000 Jewish residents of France were murdered. In the last section, Mack confronts the collective silence on the part of the French regarding the nation’s acquiescence to German aggression, a self-censorship that has prevented an honest grappling with its shame and guilt. This is the fulcrum of the study—a philosophical examination of the reasons for France’s muteness regarding its active partnership with German occupiers in crimes against humanity. Mack, a psychoanalyst, unpacks the elements of French culture and history that would have made these transgressions possible. The author dissects, with journalistic meticulousness and polemical verve, the motivations of Vichy statesmen like Philippe Pétain, who saw the nation’s invasion as an opportunity for a kind of conservative revolution. Mack’s writing, consistently lucid and even elegant, is commensurate with the gravity of the subject matter. His command of the historical period in Paris is exceptional, though he tends to bury the reader under mounds of minute detail. Also, his judgments can be rhetorically strident—surely it’s an exaggeration that “the tendency of the French to resist consisted mainly in listening to the broadcasts of ‘Les français parlent aux français’ on Radio London.” In fact, he provides plenty of counterfactual evidence on this score. And while the author’s chief historical premise isn’t original—he cites the influence of Robert Paxton’s groundbreaking Vichy France 1940-1944—his consideration of the proper distribution of blame is an important reflection on the moral dimension of the 20th century’s central disaster. He follows a tradition inaugurated by the philosopher Karl Jaspers, also a psychoanalyst, of plumbing the murky depths of moral responsibility with sensitivity and insightfulness. Mack’s study is an intrepid one, challenging pieties historically repudiated but still alive in the public imagination. Included are pages and pages of beautifully illustrative photographs.

A well-researched and powerful indictment of France’s complicity in the Holocaust.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: 234

Publisher: Tandem Lane Editions

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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