Riveting portraits of the spawn of evil.



Employing a novel, gripping concept, German journalist Stephen Lebert re-interviews the children of prominent Nazis, and mixes the material with interviews conducted in 1959 by his journalist father, Norbert Lebert.

Stephen Lebert begins with a bizarre moment: a funeral in 1995 for Ilse Hess, widow of Hitler deputy Rudolf Hess. Conducting the service was Martin Bormann Jr. (once a priest), and among the handful gathered there was Heinrich Himmler’s daughter. Lebert moves to a general consideration of the lingering effects of the Reich: “Is there a single German institution anywhere,” he wonders, “without dark stains on the pages of its history?” Lebert then establishes his structure—alternating his father’s accounts of the Nazi children with his own interviews conducted some 40 years later with some of the same individuals. The effect is at once powerful and poignant; the innocence of little children is contrasted with the evil of their fathers, as the doting parent is revealed to be a human butcher on a scale that still tests the imagination, even as it ices the heart. Lebert begins with Wolf-Rüdiger Hess, who once declined to serve in the German military because his father remained in Allied custody in Spandau Prison. Today, the younger Hess (who is in his late 60s) contends that his father did not commit suicide in Spandau, but was instead murdered. In a creepy exchange, he reveals that he views his father as a hero, and that his own son has been setting up a Web site in Rudolf Hess’s honor. Martin Bormann Jr. also consented to a recent interview and recalls that Himmler’s secretary once showed him a copy of Mein Kampf bound with skin from the back of a human being. Not everyone spoke with the younger Lebert. Edda Göring refused, as did Gundrun Himmler (whose only interview of her life was with the elder Lebert), and Robert von Schirach (son of Hitler’s youth leader) died in a car crash.

Riveting portraits of the spawn of evil.

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2001

ISBN: 0-316-51924-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2001

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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 Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should...


Greene (The 33 Strategies of War, 2007, etc.) believes that genius can be learned if we pay attention and reject social conformity.

The author suggests that our emergence as a species with stereoscopic, frontal vision and sophisticated hand-eye coordination gave us an advantage over earlier humans and primates because it allowed us to contemplate a situation and ponder alternatives for action. This, along with the advantages conferred by mirror neurons, which allow us to intuit what others may be thinking, contributed to our ability to learn, pass on inventions to future generations and improve our problem-solving ability. Throughout most of human history, we were hunter-gatherers, and our brains are engineered accordingly. The author has a jaundiced view of our modern technological society, which, he writes, encourages quick, rash judgments. We fail to spend the time needed to develop thorough mastery of a subject. Greene writes that every human is “born unique,” with specific potential that we can develop if we listen to our inner voice. He offers many interesting but tendentious examples to illustrate his theory, including Einstein, Darwin, Mozart and Temple Grandin. In the case of Darwin, Greene ignores the formative intellectual influences that shaped his thought, including the discovery of geological evolution with which he was familiar before his famous voyage. The author uses Grandin's struggle to overcome autistic social handicaps as a model for the necessity for everyone to create a deceptive social mask.

Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should beware of the author's quirky, sometimes misleading brush-stroke characterizations.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-670-02496-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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