An interesting if somewhat singleminded study.




The enduring pox of Hitlerism and the whole National Socialist disaster lives on, as documented here by Wyden’s posthumous account.

Although Wyden (Stella, 1992, etc.) would love to understand what motivates people to revel in the legacy of Hitler, here he simply tries to delineate the structures that keep his extremism alive in Germany more than half-a-century after his death. There are, of course, the local neo-Nazi parties and skinhead groups that have spawned numberless hate crimes, in this case focusing on foreigners as the inferior element that needs to be erased. There are also the apologists, the Hitler-wasn’t-all-bad proponents of the made-the-trains-run-on-schedule school. And there is the plain fascination with abomination that keeps the Führer’s name on peoples’ lips and brings them down in droves to visit the “Eagle’s Nest.” Of course, as Wyden points out, it didn’t help much that Adenauer was allowed to stock his postwar government with old-school Nazis, nor did the CIA and the Vatican contribute to the demise of Nazism by aiding in the escape of war criminals. These Wyden expects, but the revisionist historians really appall him—from respected university professors like Ernst Nolte (trying to cast a kinder light on the concentration camps) to cranks like David Irving and Fred Leuchter (who fancy that the Holocaust is all a hoax). A resurgence in Nazi memorabilia, celebrations on Hitler’s birthday, as well as the vicious attacks carried out against Kurdish and Turkish immigrants to Germany are ample evidence to Wyden that the Nazi mindset keeps perking along in Germany. Fortunately, countering these retrogressive tendencies, Wyden also finds numerous examples of Germans revealing the still-hidden complicities of townsfolk with persecutions and concentration camps (in Dachau, in Passau) and a national government coming around to taking a stand against the mentality that breeds hate crimes.

An interesting if somewhat singleminded study.

Pub Date: May 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-55970-532-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Arcade

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2001

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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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