A footnote to a much larger story but a welcome one.




A fascinating scholarly detective story centering on the often overlooked ideological architect of the Third Reich, who could never be made to “accept the notion that the ideas he had trumpeted had led to genocide.”

Bound up in this study of Alfred Rosenberg (1893-1946), whose influence on Nazi policy was constant until a late-in-the-game falling-out with Hitler, is a tale of how his diary wound up in the United States, now in the holdings of the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. That tale involves a Jewish lawyer who, ousted from his post in the German government by Hermann Göring, ended up in the U.S. advising the FBI and eventually returning to Germany to work for the prosecution at the Nuremberg trials. Robert Kempner (1899-1993) was no less diligent an archivist than the Nazi regime he detested, and, write former FBI investigator Wittman (Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World’s Stolen Treasures, 2010) and journalist Kinney (The Dylanologists, 2014, etc.), he “spent four years immersed in the documentary evidence of the Nazi crimes.” Moreover, brilliant as a researcher and litigator while also a first-class hoarder, he squirrelled away some of that documentary evidence in his own archives, including Rosenberg’s diary. The picture that long-missing diary affords of those Nazi crimes does not remake our understanding, but it certainly adds to it. When Rosenberg grimly writes, “some still haven’t yet understood…that things have to be calculated differently now,” he is signaling the onset of the extermination of Europe’s Jews. The two narrative threads—one tracking Rosenberg across two decades of Nazi activism and the other examining the fortunes of his diary—don’t always line up neatly, and the storyline sometimes has a stop-and-go quality. However, the authors do an excellent job of teasing out the fine details and placing them in the larger context, in the bargain offering overdue acknowledgment of Kempner’s many contributions to the short-lived effort to bring Nazis to judgment.

A footnote to a much larger story but a welcome one.

Pub Date: March 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-231901-2

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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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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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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