A lucid description of a year that made all the horror possible, even inevitable.

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1924

THE YEAR THAT MADE HITLER

Following the current trend of focusing a work of history on a single year, a journalist and academic examines the year that Hitler spent in Landsberg Prison for his failed putsch of 1923.

Range (Murder in the Yoga Store, 2013, etc.)—a former correspondent for U.S. News & World Report and a visiting scholar who’s sojourned at several prestigious institutions, including Harvard and the University of North Carolina—takes some time escorting us through 1923, and even earlier, before arriving at 1924 nearly 125 pages in. He rehearses the life of Hitler, the German defeat in World War I, and the horrible postwar economy that was one of the factors enabling a fiery ex-corporal from Austria to rise in Germany’s extreme right-wing political world. Range seems simultaneously disgusted and dazzled by his subject. Hitler’s political and cultural views were, of course, repellant and murderous, but the man could deliver a stemwinder and could somehow attract to his cause all sorts of adherents, from the thugs who pounded on his enemies to the wealthy folks who kept him financially afloat. One society woman bought for him the typewriter that he used to pound out the first volume of Mein Kampf during his yearlong incarceration. (He wrote the second volume shortly after his release.) Range shows us Hitler’s despair after his failed putsch late in 1923 and his hunger strike and other behavior in Landsberg. It was, the author demonstrates, his trial that re-energized the future dictator and drew even more Germans to his cause. He had a steady stream of visitors, and one fellow prisoner, Rudolf Hess, became a key figure in the Third Reich. Range’s style is generally fluid and journalistic; his deep knowledge of the figures and events enables him to narrate clearly without being sucked into excessive explication.

A lucid description of a year that made all the horror possible, even inevitable.

Pub Date: Jan. 26, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-316-38403-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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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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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

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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