New Books Network

Hans Kundnani, “Utopia or Auschwitz: Germany’s 1968 Generation and the Holocaust” (Columbia UP, 2010)
It’s pretty common in American political discourse to call someone a “fascist.” Everyone knows, however, that this is just name-calling: supposed fascists are never really fascists–they are just people you don’t like very much. Not so in post-War West Germany. There, too, it was common to call people “fascists. But... Read More
Catherine Epstein, “Model Nazi: Arthur Greiser and the Occupation of Western Poland” (Oxford UP, 2010)
The term “totalitarian” is useful as it well describes the aspirations of polities such as Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union (at least under Stalin). Yet it can also be misleading, for it suggests that totalitarian ambitions were in fact achieved. But they were not, as we can see in... Read More
Norman Naimark, “Stalin’s Genocides” (Princeton UP, 2010)
Absolutely no one doubts that Stalin murdered millions of people in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. His ruthless campaign of “dekulakization,” his pitiless deportation of “unreliable” ethnic groups, his senseless starvation of Ukrainian peasants, his cruel attempt to “cleanse” the Communist Party of supposed “enemies of the people”–all of these... Read More
Hilary Earl, “The Nuremberg SS-Einsatzgruppen Trial, 1945-1958: Atrocity, Law, and History” (Cambridge UP, 2010)
Hitler caused the Holocaust, that much we know (no Hitler, no Holocaust). But did he directly order it and, if so, how and when? This is one of the many interesting questions posed by Hilary Earl in her outstanding new book The Nuremberg SS-Einsatzgruppen Trial, 1945-1958: Atrocity, Law, and History... Read More
Ben Kiernan, “Blood and Soil: A World History of Genocide and Extermination from Sparta to Darfur” (Yale UP, 2007)
Chimps, our closest relatives, kill each other. But chimps do not engage in anything close to mass slaughter of their own kind. Why is this? There are two possible explanations for the difference. The first is this: chimps are not programmed, so to say, to commit mass slaughter, while humans... Read More
Samuel Kassow, “Who Will Write Our History? Emanuel Ringelblum, the Warsaw Ghetto, and the Oyneg Shabes Archive” (Indiana UP, 2007)
Scholars argue about whether the Holocaust was unprecedented. It’s a difficult question. On the one hand, slaughters litter the pages of history. On the other hand, none of them seem quite as calculated, systematic and horribly efficient as the Nazi murder of the Jews and other “Untermenchen.” One thing, however,... Read More
Mark Mazower, “Hitler’s Empire: Nazi Rule in Occupied Europe” (Penguin, 2008)
It’s curious how historical images become stereotyped over time. One hears the word “Nazi,” and immediately the Holocaust springs to mind. This reflexive association is probably a good thing, as it reminds us of the dangers of ethnic hatred in an era that knows it too well.  But in another... Read More