An entertaining story of the irresistible cult of a creepy car.




The shadowy provenance of a wartime German limousine and the dizzying succession of owners over decades afterward.

Historian Klara (The Hidden White House: Harry Truman and the Reconstruction of America’s Most Famous Residence, 2013, etc.) first became entranced by the story of the massive Mercedes Benz Grosser 770K limousine, which had made its way to America after World War II, as a young boy in the 1970s when “Hitler’s touring car” was displayed in a county fair in upstate New York. The author does an admirable sleuthing job in debunking some of the myths surrounding this legendary car; it was part of a fleet of similar Grosser armored limousines custom made in the late 1930s and early ’40s for the Nazi leadership. Two cars, in particular, have traceable genealogies. One, purchased by a Chicago exporter, Christopher Janus, from a Swedish company to settle a debt in June 1948, was touted as Hitler’s private car and arrived shortly thereafter by ship to New York City, followed by enormous public curiosity. Janus planned to drum up some money for charity by touring with the car, banking on the public’s fascination with its original owner. What Janus chose to ignore was that his car was actually a gift given by Hitler to the Finnish president, Carl Gustaf Mannerheim, for allowing the Nazis to stage the attack on the Soviet Union in 1941 from Finnish soil. The other limousine of note became a war trophy of U.S. Sgt. Joe Azara, an amateur mechanic who managed to steal away with the massive limousine at Berchtesgaden until it was “borrowed” by a superior and became the “Göring Special,” a kind of party car that was displayed and then warehoused in the U.S. for years before finding its way to the Canadian War Museum. Myths surrounding the cars escalated, and at an auction in 1973, “Hitler’s car” was sold for a whopping world record $153,000.

An entertaining story of the irresistible cult of a creepy car.

Pub Date: March 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-06972-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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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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