A gruesome story eloquently told.

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THE PHARMACIST OF AUSCHWITZ

THE UNTOLD STORY

Pursuing newly opened legal archives to expose the case of a Romanian-born German pharmacist who was key in dispensing Zyklon B poison gas and attending to the selection process at Auschwitz.

Why is a case decided at the 1965 trial of Nazi criminals garnering new interest? Miami-based journalist Posner, who has collaborated on many books with her husband, Gerald Posner, focuses on a little-known middle bureaucrat, Victor Capesius (1907-1985), who played an important role at the Auschwitz death camp yet flew under the denazification radar for many years after World War II. The hunting of Nazi criminals in Germany was stymied by the burden of having to prove that a defendant was linked to a specific killing. However, after the landmark decision in 2011 against John Demjanjuk, a former guard at Sobibor death camp—which stated that “it was impossible for anyone who served at Sobibor not to have played an integral part in mass murder”—many cases were reopened. Posner tells the story of a middling ethnic German man from a small Transylvanian town who gained his pharmaceutical doctorate degree from the University of Vienna and eventually landed a plum job as a national sales rep for Bayer, IG Farben’s drug subsidiary. The author delves into the Farben role in building up the deadly Nazi war machine and specifically Farben’s construction of a synthetic rubber-fuel plant run by slave labor: Auschwitz. Enlisted in the German army in 1943 and stationed to Auschwitz to take over the chief pharmacist job when his predecessor was arrested for “spreading defeatism,” Capesius had the keys to the dispensary, which held medicine and the Zyklon B that was used in the gas chambers. Thousands of innocent people were selected to die by the flick of his hand. Posner ably delineates how Capesius and others enriched themselves by stealing inmates’ jewelry and gold from their teeth.

A gruesome story eloquently told.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2017

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 244

Publisher: Crux Publishing

Review Posted Online: Oct. 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016

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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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UNTAMED

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

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

ECONOMIC DIGNITY

Noted number cruncher Sperling delivers an economist’s rejoinder to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Former director of the National Economic Council in the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, the author has long taken a view of the dismal science that takes economic justice fully into account. Alongside all the metrics and estimates and reckonings of GDP, inflation, and the supply curve, he holds the great goal of economic policy to be the advancement of human dignity, a concept intangible enough to chase the econometricians away. Growth, the sacred mantra of most economic policy, “should never be considered an appropriate ultimate end goal” for it, he counsels. Though 4% is the magic number for annual growth to be considered healthy, it is healthy only if everyone is getting the benefits and not just the ultrawealthy who are making away with the spoils today. Defining dignity, admits Sperling, can be a kind of “I know it when I see it” problem, but it does not exist where people are a paycheck away from homelessness; the fact, however, that people widely share a view of indignity suggests the “intuitive universality” of its opposite. That said, the author identifies three qualifications, one of them the “ability to meaningfully participate in the economy with respect, not domination and humiliation.” Though these latter terms are also essentially unquantifiable, Sperling holds that this respect—lack of abuse, in another phrasing—can be obtained through a tight labor market and monetary and fiscal policy that pushes for full employment. In other words, where management needs to come looking for workers, workers are likely to be better treated than when the opposite holds. In still other words, writes the author, dignity is in part a function of “ ‘take this job and shove it’ power,” which is a power worth fighting for.

A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7987-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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