Written with dramatic flair (Ohler has published several novels in Germany), this book adds significantly to our...

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BLITZED

DRUGS IN THE THIRD REICH

An intense chronicle of “systematic drug abuse” in Nazi Germany.

Although the use of opiates and other drugs was pervasive in the Weimar Republic of the 1920s, the Nazis ostensibly opposed them, offering “ideological salvation” instead, writes German journalist Ohler in this nonfiction debut. In fact, the Third Reich depended heavily on drugs, notably cocaine, heroin, morphine, and methamphetamines, to sustain the fearless blitzkrieg attacks of its advancing armies and to keep Adolf Hitler in a euphoric, delusional state. Drawing on archival research in Germany and the United States, the author crafts a vivid, highly readable account of drug use run amok. He describes systematized drug tests conducted by Dr. Otto F. Ranke, a defense physiologist, who waged war on exhaustion with Pervitin, an early version of crystal meth. The fierce Nazi invasion of France, lasting three days and nights without sleep, was made possible by use of Pervitin: “It kept you awake, mercilessly,” recalls a former Nazi medical officer. Relying heavily on the diaries of Dr. Theodor Morell, Hitler’s personal physician (Hermann Göring called him the “Reich Injection Master”), Ohler writes at length about Hitler’s drug use throughout the war, which began with a “power injection” of glucose and vitamins before big speeches, then escalated to cocktails of hormones, steroids, and vitamins, and finally, in his last year, to the use of both cocaine and Eukodal, a designer opioid that even infamous heroin addict William Burroughs called “some truly awful shit.” With Morell treating him daily, Hitler spent his last weeks in a fog of artificial euphoria and “stable in his delusion,” and his veins had a junkie’s track marks. Because of Allied bombing of manufacturing plants, supplies of the drugs favored by Hitler dried up, his health deteriorated, and he entered withdrawal. He would fire his doctor before committing suicide in 1945.

Written with dramatic flair (Ohler has published several novels in Germany), this book adds significantly to our understanding of the Third Reich.

Pub Date: March 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-328-66379-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 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...

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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The value of this book is the context it provides, in a style aimed at a concerned citizenry rather than fellow academics,...

HOW DEMOCRACIES DIE

A provocative analysis of the parallels between Donald Trump’s ascent and the fall of other democracies.

Following the last presidential election, Levitsky (Transforming Labor-Based Parties in Latin America, 2003, etc.) and Ziblatt (Conservative Parties and the Birth of Democracy, 2017, etc.), both professors of government at Harvard, wrote an op-ed column titled, “Is Donald Trump a Threat to Democracy?” The answer here is a resounding yes, though, as in that column, the authors underscore their belief that the crisis extends well beyond the power won by an outsider whom they consider a demagogue and a liar. “Donald Trump may have accelerated the process, but he didn’t cause it,” they write of the politics-as-warfare mentality. “The weakening of our democratic norms is rooted in extreme partisan polarization—one that extends beyond policy differences into an existential conflict over race and culture.” The authors fault the Republican establishment for failing to stand up to Trump, even if that meant electing his opponent, and they seem almost wistfully nostalgic for the days when power brokers in smoke-filled rooms kept candidacies restricted to a club whose members knew how to play by the rules. Those supporting the candidacy of Bernie Sanders might take as much issue with their prescriptions as Trump followers will. However, the comparisons they draw to how democratic populism paved the way toward tyranny in Peru, Venezuela, Chile, and elsewhere are chilling. Among the warning signs they highlight are the Republican Senate’s refusal to consider Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee as well as Trump’s demonization of political opponents, minorities, and the media. As disturbing as they find the dismantling of Democratic safeguards, Levitsky and Ziblatt suggest that “a broad opposition coalition would have important benefits,” though such a coalition would strike some as a move to the center, a return to politics as usual, and even a pragmatic betrayal of principles.

The value of this book is the context it provides, in a style aimed at a concerned citizenry rather than fellow academics, rather than in the consensus it is not likely to build.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6293-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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