Those interested in international justice will find this both fascinating and disturbing; a worthy companion to Jean...

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THE VICTIM’S FORTUNE

INSIDE THE EPIC BATTLE OVER THE DEBTS OF THE HOLOCAUST

A tangled tale of Nazi gold, Swiss banks, and dogged lawyers locked in titanic struggle.

Call it a Bleak House for our time: Financial Times reporters Authers and Wolffe track what they rightly call an “epic battle” over monetary compensation for those who suffered imprisonment and slavery under Adolf Hitler’s regime. That battle begins at least as early as 1946, when several leading Swiss banks failed to live up to the terms of an agreement with the Allies to deliver half of the wealth the Nazi government socked away in Swiss vaults. Though by some estimates this totaled at least $500 million at the time, the Swiss yielded only a token payment of $28 million in 1952. Pursuing this and other trails in the early 1990s, American attorneys Stuart Eizenstat and Israel Singer, Canadian magnate Edgar Bronfman, and other parties set in motion a chain of hearings and suits that in the end helped force an accounting—and one that would take several years and occupy the attentions of a small army of lawyers. An audit that cost at least a billion Swiss francs revealed, just as they suspected, that the long-dormant accounts of the Holocaust’s victims had fed billions of dollars into the Swiss economy, with almost no effort having been given to finding their true owners or heirs. Pressing for that accounting from those banks and for compensation from the German and Austrian governments, as well as private concerns such as Daimler-Chrysler, proved to be a far more difficult matter than anyone might have foreseen, setting off bitter recriminations and intramural struggles among Jewish communities in Europe and America. The authors do a commendable job of charting the political and economic complexities of the various cases involved, keeping their narrative readable throughout—no easy task, given the minutia of international law, banking regulations, and other matters that inform this book.

Those interested in international justice will find this both fascinating and disturbing; a worthy companion to Jean Ziegler’s The Swiss, the Gold, and the Dead (1999).

Pub Date: June 7, 2002

ISBN: 0-06-621264-2

Page Count: 480

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2002

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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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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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