New Books Network

At Newman I co-teach a class titled “The Holocaust and its Legacies.”  I teach the course with a Professor of Theology and it’s designed...

At Newman I co-teach a class titled “The Holocaust and its Legacies.”  I teach the course with a Professor of Theology and it’s designed to help students understand the ways in which the Holocaust shaped the world they live in. It is, in a sense, designed to help students gain insight.

John K. Roth‘s new book Sources of Holocaust Insight: Learning and Teaching about the Genocide (Cascade Books, 2020) may become a required text in this course.  His book is different than, I think, any other books I’ve discussed on the show.  It  is a reflection, a tribute, and perhaps a kind of valedictory all at once.  John reflects on the people who have taught him, in all the different ways teaching can happen, and the lessons that he’s learned over decades of thinking and writing about the Holocaust. In doing so, he offers the reader an insight both into his own development and into the way historians, theologians, philosophers and artists have responded to the Holocaust over time.

It’s a revealing book, sober, reflective and occasionally inspiring. Roth offers us an intellectual biography that puts his other work into context.  But he also challenges his readers to be better scholars and better people while recognizing the world is far too big for one person to change.


Kelly McFall is Professor of History and Director of the Honors Program at Newman University. He’s the author of four modules in the Reacting to the Past series, including The Needs of Others: Human Rights, International Organizations and Intervention in Rwanda, 1994, published by W. W. Norton Press.