A straightforward work that only hints at the underlying questions of moral failing supported by many of these philosophical...

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HITLER'S PHILOSOPHERS

A systematic breakdown of the core players and ideas usurped in Nazi ideology.

British academic Sherratt (Continental Philosophy of Social Science, 2005, etc.) deconstructs the making of Hitler’s thinking, from the writing of his autobiography as a political vehicle to his “savage bowdlerization” of Nietzsche, Schopenhauer and many other philosophers. Whether Hitler actually read the works he appropriated did not matter, writes the author. He plucked what he needed from this or that philosopher: From Kant, he claimed the supremacy of reason over the dogma of the church and the degradation of Judaism; from Schiller, the beloved motto: “The strong man is mightiest alone”; from Hegel, the formation of the state from ancient origins; from Nietzsche, his fantasies of an ancient Greek ideal; and so on. As a “bartender of genius,” Hitler concocted his lethal ideas about racial supremacy, the lone Romantic hero within the Bavarian natural landscape, the Jewish “enemy” and the obsession with “public health.” He needed a coterie of deputies to carry out his political fantasies, namely Alfred Rosenberg, whose job was to “destroy democracy and construct a new Nazi ideal” by infiltrating the schools and universities; and legal mind Carl Schmitt, who “enshrined Hitler’s tyranny in law.” Some of the philosophers acquiesced for the advancement of their careers—e.g., Martin Heidegger, whose affair with his student Hannah Arendt, a Jew, rendered his collaboration all the more baffling or suspect. Jewish philosophers stripped of their university positions either fled or were destroyed. Sherratt devotes one chapter to the singular resistance of one Munich academic, Kurt Huber, and another to the reckoning meted out to the collaborating philosophers at the Nuremberg Trials.

A straightforward work that only hints at the underlying questions of moral failing supported by many of these philosophical works.

Pub Date: May 21, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-300-15193-0

Page Count: 328

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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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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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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