In this revisionist history Rubinstein (History/Univ. of Wales, Aberystwyth) sets out to debunk as ``illogical and ahistorical'' the work of several established historians who raise the question of Allied culpability during the Holocaust. The key issues involve closed-door immigration policies that turned central and eastern European Jewish refugee movements into one long Voyage of the Damned; discussed but never executed attempts to bomb the railway lines to such concentration camps as Auschwitz; and aborted financial negotiations to ransom Jewish lives. Rubinstein's major thesis is that Hitler was too committed to genocide to be distracted by such efforts, but the author should have presented more documentation to prove that the Allies did what they could once they confirmed the reality of the Final Solution. His thesis is further weakened by many diversionary tactics, such as the presentation of Gallup polls showing that 80 percent of wartime Americans opposed anti-Semitism (but nearly 68 percent opposed immigration). The data in no way relieve the US State Department, Great Britain, and organizations like the Red Cross of culpability in not minimizing the number of Holocaust victims. Such serious charges as those in in Lucy Dawidowicz's work, that German extermination trains and railways were repeatedly spared by Allied bombers, are not addressed. There is too much here on what we already knew, such as that ``the Jews were the central obsession of Hitler's life,'' and too little on the paucity of efforts to save Jews in Europe during the war. Some valuable historical modifications may be lost due to a tone and strategy that make the author sound too much like an apologist for the Allies' inaction.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 1997

ISBN: 0-415-12455-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Routledge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1997

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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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