An expert and highly disheartening history of a dictator’s early rise.

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THE LAST WINTER OF THE WEIMAR REPUBLIC

THE RISE OF THE THIRD REICH

A sharply focused study of the many poor decisions that ended with Hitler's taking power.

German journalists Barth and Friedrichs deliver a day-to-day chronicle of events from Nov. 17, 1932, when the cabinet concluded that Germany needed a government of “national aggregation,” until Jan. 30, 1933, when Hitler became chancellor. Depression-era elections vaulted the Nazis from an obscure fringe into the largest party in the republic, but few paid attention when a journalist wrote, “fifty thousand Bolsheviks made the Russian revolution….Five hundred thousand Fascists put Mussolini in power in Italy. Adolf Hitler has a possible twelve million voters behind the National Socialist Party in Germany. How long can the life of the German republic last?” Worsening unemployment and violence between left and right stirred fears of a civil war, which would have overwhelmed Germany’s army, kept small by the Treaty of Versailles. President Paul von Hindenburg considered the Nazis vulgar riffraff, but not all fellow conservatives agreed. After an inconclusive early November election, Chancellor Franz von Papen wanted the Nazis to join a coalition government, but Hitler refused any office besides chancellor. Von Papen then resigned, and Hindenburg appointed the defense minister, Gen. Kurt von Schleicher. Still close to the president and yearning to regain power, von Papen worked hard to frustrate Schleicher while appealing for Nazi support. Hitler refused to budge, and in January, von Papen convinced himself that he could control Hitler. He agreed to serve under him as vice-chancellor and persuaded Hindenburg to make the appointments. It was a mistake. In this meticulously researched narrative, the authors emphasize that stupidity, not destiny, led to the Third Reich. Hitler’s party could never win a majority in free elections, and many high-ranking Nazis, yearning for power, were on the verge of rebellion due to Hitler’s refusal to join the government. A left-center coalition offered hope, but the Communists took orders from Stalin, who hated rival leftist parties and forbade it.

An expert and highly disheartening history of a dictator’s early rise.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64313-333-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

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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