THE JEWS OF GERMANY

A HISTORICAL PORTRAIT

The history of Jews in Germany begins with the third century A.D., when a settlement at Cologne was paying taxes to the Emperor Constantine. It ends in 1943, the year Hitler declared the country ``Judenrein''—free of Jews. By then, 170,000—out of a community of half a million—had perished in the camps. The rest had emigrated. This fascinating account by Gay (Jews in America, 1965) covers not only the tragedies leading up to the ultimate one, but the triumphs of nearly two millennia. Above all, Gay describes the strategies of day-to-day survival for rich and for poor, Prussians and Alsatians, city and country folk, men and women—making dozens of useful distinctions overlooked in our standard simple notion of what it meant to be a German Jew. Yes, the Lateran Council in 1215 required that Jews wear distinctive headgear. But at the same time, the legends of King Arthur were circulating in rhymed Yiddish couplets. Yes, a few Jews were financial advisers to dukes and princes and, later, stunningly successful capitalists. But most lived in rural poverty as late as the 19th century, when 120,000 emigrated to the US. Gay's text is easy to follow, and the copious illustrations (277 b&w; ten color) include woodcuts, engravings, photographs of forgotten ancestors, and facsimile pages of historic documents. Almost every page offers some intriguing tidbit. A Jewish envoy of Charlemagne brought a white elephant back to Aachen from the Baghdad court of Caliph Haroun el Rashid. Twelve thousand Jewish soldiers fought and died for the Kaiser during WW I. A perfect bar mitzvah gift—and, one hopes, of interest to non-Jews too—Gay's book rescues a long and variegated history from the dark shadow of recent events.

Pub Date: Aug. 19, 1992

ISBN: 0-300-05155-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1992

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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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ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN

Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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