A detailed, well-constructed biography of a Nazi mass murderer and his escape from justice.

THE RATLINE

THE EXALTED LIFE AND MYSTERIOUS DEATH OF A NAZI FUGITIVE

A biography of a little-known but major 20th-century war criminal.

Lawyer and historian Sands tells the fascinating, disturbing story of Otto Wächter (1901-1949), a high-ranking official in the SS. In 2012, while researching the Holocaust in Ukraine, the author learned that Wächter’s son, Horst (b. 1939), was still alive. Since his father served as Nazi governor of Ukraine from 1942 to 1944, where he supervised the murders of Jews and other Soviet civilians, Sands sought a meeting. Although convinced that his father was a “good Nazi,” Horst maintained a close friendship with the author for years, meeting many times and allowing access to a massive trove of family correspondence, journals, and photographs. Born in Austria, Wächter entered the University of Vienna in 1919. He became a member of the fiercely anti-Semitic, pan-German Deutsche Klub and participated in violent anti-Semitic demonstrations. An “early supporter of Adolf Hitler,” he joined the Austrian National Socialist Party in 1923. A prominent Austrian Nazi by the 1930s, he fled to Germany in 1934 after an unsuccessful coup. Welcomed into the SS, he returned to Vienna after the 1938 Anschluss. During the war, he served in several top-level positions but made his mark in Ukraine. After Germany’s surrender in 1945, he disappeared. This event doesn’t occur until 130 pages into the narrative, but readers will not complain. Adding Horst’s archives to extensive interviews allows Sands to deliver a gripping account of Otto’s experience. For three years, he lived in an Alpine cabin supplied by his wife and friendly locals. Then, to escape discovery, he joined the “Ratline,” a route used by Nazis to flee to South America. When he arrived in Rome, sympathetic monks provided him with a small room. After less than three months, before he could acquire money and documents for immigration, he fell ill and died. The list of principal characters is helpful.

A detailed, well-constructed biography of a Nazi mass murderer and his escape from justice.

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-525-52096-2

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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A lively and thoughtful memoir that, one hopes, will inspire readers to pursue activism in every realm of society.

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PERSIST

The Massachusetts senator and financial reformer recounts several of her good fights over the years.

Famous for being chided for “persisting” on the Senate floor, Warren is nearly a byword for the application of an unbending, if usually polite, feminism to the corridors of power. Though she has a schoolmarm-ish air—and indeed taught school for much of her life—she gladly owns up to liking a beer or two and enjoying a good brawl, and she’s a scrapper with a long memory. In 2008, when she shopped a proposal to found a federal agency that “could act as a watchdog to make sure that consumers weren’t getting cheated by financial institutions,” she encountered a congressman who “laughed in my face.” She doesn’t reveal his name, but you can bet he crosses the hall when she’s coming the other way. Warren does name other names, especially Donald Trump, who, with Republicans on the Hill, accomplished only one thing, namely “a $2 trillion tax cut that mostly benefited rich people.” Now that the Democrats are in power, the author reckons that the time is ripe to shake off the Trump debacle and build “a nation that works, not just for the rich and powerful but for everyone.” She identifies numerous areas that need immediate attention, from financial reform to bringing more women into the workplace and mandating equal pay for equal work. Warren premises some of these changes on increased taxes on the rich, happily citing a billionaire well known for insider trading, who complained of her, “This is the fucking American dream she is shitting on.” The author reverts to form: “Oh dear. Did I hit a nerve?” Warren’s common-sensical proposals on housing, infrastructure development, and civil rights merit attention, and her book makes for a sometimes-funny, sometimes–sharp-tongued pleasure.

A lively and thoughtful memoir that, one hopes, will inspire readers to pursue activism in every realm of society.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-79924-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Metropolitan/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: today

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