A dry style and theoretical casuistry mar this otherwise terrifying history.




A not wholly successful examination of the seminal trial of Nazi perpetrators.

In December 1963, two dozen former guards who had worked at Auschwitz were put on trial in West Germany. Wittmann (History/Univ. of Toronto) demonstrates, first, how the prosecution, with massive documentation about the camp, tried to show the political context of the crimes, and, second, how German law shaped the outcome of the trial. West Germany banned “retroactivity” in law, meaning that Nazi criminals had to be charged under the laws that were in place at the time. Absurdly enough, this meant that the court had to make the case that the defendants’ acts violated Nazi law in a Nazi extermination camp. As a consequence, behind-the-scenes managers like Karl Höcker, an adjutant to the last Auschwitz Commandant, Robert Baer, received lesser sentences for lesser crimes than more visible camp personnel. Less satisfying than the story of the trial itself is Wittmann’s confusing thesis. On the one hand, she takes a more exculpatory view of Adenauer-era justice than other critics—most famously, Hannah Arendt, whose withering survey of West Germany’s tendency to connive in comfortable amnesia about the past takes up a chapter of Eichmann in Jerusalem. Wittmann, by contrast, believes that “the argument that the entire West German justice system was tainted with a malaise regarding Nazi crimes is too simplistic.” Her own account, however, shows that the court was able, if it chose, to make very creative end runs around the retroactivity law and, furthermore, that the law itself was not imposed on the West German system, but chosen by it. Arendt’s harsher verdict still seems more valid than Wittmann’s. As if confirming Arendt’s suspicions, Hofmeyer, the presiding judge, questioned afterward whether the “background of the ‘entire event’ should be addressed at all in such trials.” In practical terms, that would mean covering up the genocidal nature of Auschwitz completely.

A dry style and theoretical casuistry mar this otherwise terrifying history.

Pub Date: May 30, 2005

ISBN: 0-674-01694-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2005

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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.


New York Times columnist and editorial board member delivers a slim book for aspiring writers, offering saws and sense, wisdom and waggery, biases and biting sarcasm.

Klinkenborg (Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, 2006), who’s taught for decades, endeavors to keep things simple in his prose, and he urges other writers to do the same. (Note: He despises abuses of the word as, as he continually reminds readers.) In the early sections, the author ignores traditional paragraphing so that the text resembles a long free-verse poem. He urges readers to use short, clear sentences and to make sure each one is healthy before moving on; notes that it’s acceptable to start sentences with and and but; sees benefits in diagramming sentences; stresses that all writing is revision; periodically blasts the formulaic writing that many (most?) students learn in school; argues that knowing where you’re headed before you begin might be good for a vacation, but not for a piece of writing; and believes that writers must trust readers more, and trust themselves. Most of Klinkenborg’s advice is neither radical nor especially profound (“Turn to the poets. / Learn from them”), and the text suffers from a corrosive fallacy: that if his strategies work for him they will work for all. The final fifth of the text includes some passages from writers he admires (McPhee, Oates, Cheever) and some of his students’ awkward sentences, which he treats analytically but sometimes with a surprising sarcasm that veers near meanness. He includes examples of students’ dangling modifiers, malapropisms, errors of pronoun agreement, wordiness and other mistakes.

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-26634-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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With this detailed, versatile cookbook, readers can finally make Momofuku Milk Bar’s inventive, decadent desserts at home, or see what they’ve been missing.

In this successor to the Momofuku cookbook, Momofuku Milk Bar’s pastry chef hands over the keys to the restaurant group’s snack-food–based treats, which have had people lining up outside the door of the Manhattan bakery since it opened. The James Beard Award–nominated Tosi spares no detail, providing origin stories for her popular cookies, pies and ice-cream flavors. The recipes are meticulously outlined, with added tips on how to experiment with their format. After “understanding how we laid out this cookbook…you will be one of us,” writes the author. Still, it’s a bit more sophisticated than the typical Betty Crocker fare. In addition to a healthy stock of pretzels, cornflakes and, of course, milk powder, some recipes require readers to have feuilletine and citric acid handy, to perfect the art of quenelling. Acolytes should invest in a scale, thanks to Tosi’s preference of grams (“freedom measurements,” as the friendlier cups and spoons are called, are provided, but heavily frowned upon)—though it’s hard to be too pretentious when one of your main ingredients is Fruity Pebbles. A refreshing, youthful cookbook that will have readers happily indulging in a rising pastry-chef star’s widely appealing treats.    


Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-307-72049-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Clarkson Potter

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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