Turner (History/Yale; ed., Hitler: Memoirs of a Confidant, 1985, etc.) presents a compelling day-by-day account of the final month of unlikely parliamentary maneuvers that led to Adolf Hitler's appointment as Germany's chancellor in January 1933. By the autumn of 1932, Hitler's Nazi movement seemed in decline. Riven by internal disputes and hurt by competing right- wing movements, the Nazis had polled poorly in the November 1932 Reichstag elections. Also, although the Nazis retained a powerful presence in the chamber because of a July 1932 electoral triumph, their parliamentary clout was diminished by the Reichstag's impotence: The chamber was hamstrung by large factions of right- and left-wing extremists, and Germany's president, Paul von Hindenburg, and the cabinets appointed by him ruled largely by fiat. Hitler's key to power lay in the hands of Hindenburg and in the two former army officers who held the chancellorship immediately before Hitler, Franz von Papen and Kurt von Schleicher. Turner makes clear that without Hindenburg's obtuseness, Schleicher's ineptitude, and Papen's overweening ambition, Hitler would not have been appointed chancellor. Schleicher, formerly a friend of Papen's, made it possible for him to become chancellor. Papen, tremendously unpopular as chancellor, exploited his close relationship with Hindenburg to have Hitler appointed because he felt he could control the Nazis. Based on Hitler's false assurances, Papen overcame Hindenburg's revulsion to Hitler. After his appointment, Hitler immediately took steps to consolidate his own power and achieve access to the president's emergency powers, which he used to destroy the Weimar Republic and create his dictatorship. In assessing responsibility for Hitler's rise, Turner makes the interesting argument that a military dictatorship by the likes of Schleicher or Papen, although abhorrent, would have been preferable to the establishment of Hitler as dictator. Turner gives a chilling account of how the failure of democratic processes can give rise to dictatorship. (b&w photos)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-201-40714-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Addison-Wesley

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1996

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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

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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

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