Vivid memoirs by veteran historian Laqueur (Stalin, 1990, etc.), who witnessed the era of Adolf Hitler, the founding of Israel, and much more. Laqueur distinguishes himself here for his lack of animus and for his refusal to judge Germany by the actions of one insane decade. His description of his hometown of Breslau is masterful, with details of a middle-class Jewish childhood etched with quiet, spare writing that evokes the very smells of the place. Laqueur explores the town's ongoing German/Polish identity crisis and places it in the cultural/historic continuum. He makes history come alive--from the Wandervogel spirit of German youth to the deceptive gradualness with which the Nazis altered the local culture, to the dedication of the Jewish youth groups that Laqueur was involved in and helped lead. The author, who by 1938 had moved to Palestine (where he finds the actions of the British military mostly decent), portrays with finesse the primitive, uncomfortable kibbutz that he lived on and irritably patrolled on horseback. He shows with real power the hellish Mideast ferment that followed WW II, with refugees laying their bodies down and living on ships and in camps not much better than the ones many had left behind in Germany. Laqueur--calm, canny, humane, and willing to say the unpopular thing--stands here as a highly credible witness to history.