Well-researched state secrets forced into the light of truth.




Barbier (History/Mississippi State Univ.; D-Day Deception: Operation Fortitude and the Normandy Invasion, 2007, etc.) builds on mounting research into the lack of persecution of Nazi war criminals who were granted entrance into the United States after World War II.

The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 specifically blocked the immigration of Nazi criminals into the U.S., while between 1948 and 1953, a whopping 600,000 European refugees had already entered under the Displaced Persons Act of 1948. The sheer numbers overwhelmed consular bureaucracy, yet there was upper-level leniency at play as well in turning a blind eye to the questionable pasts of some of these immigrants. Among many others, these included Otto von Bolschwing, a chief SS officer stationed in Romania whose collaboration with postwar American military intelligence allowed him entrance into the U.S. in 1954; Andrija Artukovic, “Butcher of the Balkans,” who managed to get a visa to the U.S. and a job in California; and Karl Linnas, who “ran a concentration camp in Estonia” yet squeaked by authorities to arrive with his family in New York state in 1951. Barbier traces how the important Office of Special Investigations, established in 1979 within the U.S. Department of Justice—thanks to public outcry in the 1970s over the denaturalization and extradition of Hermine Braunsteiner, a German-born New York City housewife who lied about her work at a Nazi death camp—finally was able to pursue these criminals ensconced comfortably in the U.S. Besides delineating other high-profile cases, such as those of Klaus Barbie, Josef Mengele, and Kurt Waldheim, the author chronicles the scandalous mission of Operation Paperclip, which allowed top German scientists and technicians—who had perfected their talents trying to destroy the Allies with the V-1 and V-2 projects and the use of chemical weapons—were lured to the U.S. to keep them from sharing their knowledge with the Soviets.

Well-researched state secrets forced into the light of truth.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-61234-727-1

Page Count: 360

Publisher: Potomac Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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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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Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.


An engaging, casual history of librarians and libraries and a famous one that burned down.

In her latest, New Yorker staff writer Orlean (Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, 2011, etc.) seeks to “tell about a place I love that doesn’t belong to me but feels like it is mine.” It’s the story of the Los Angeles Public Library, poet Charles Bukowski’s “wondrous place,” and what happened to it on April 29, 1986: It burned down. The fire raged “for more than seven hours and reached temperatures of 2000 degrees…more than one million books were burned or damaged.” Though nobody was killed, 22 people were injured, and it took more than 3 million gallons of water to put it out. One of the firefighters on the scene said, “We thought we were looking at the bowels of hell….It was surreal.” Besides telling the story of the historic library and its destruction, the author recounts the intense arson investigation and provides an in-depth biography of the troubled young man who was arrested for starting it, actor Harry Peak. Orlean reminds us that library fires have been around since the Library of Alexandria; during World War II, “the Nazis alone destroyed an estimated hundred million books.” She continues, “destroying a culture’s books is sentencing it to something worse than death: It is sentencing it to seem as if it never happened.” The author also examines the library’s important role in the city since 1872 and the construction of the historic Goodhue Building in 1926. Orlean visited the current library and talked to many of the librarians, learning about their jobs and responsibilities, how libraries were a “solace in the Depression,” and the ongoing problems librarians face dealing with the homeless. The author speculates about Peak’s guilt but remains “confounded.” Maybe it was just an accident after all.

Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4018-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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