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Buried by the Times: The Holocaust and America's Most Important Newspaper Hardcover – March 21, 2005

4.2 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"...[an] important book..."
-New York Post

-Commentary Magazine

"Laurel Leff has written an exceptional study of one of the darkest failures of the New York Times--its non-coverage of the holocaust during World War II. How could the best newspaper in the United States, perhaps in the world, under-estimate and under-report the mass killing of more than 6,000,000 Jews? Read this book, which provides answers and in the process stands tall in scholarship, style and importance."
-Marvin Kalb, Senior Fellow at Harvard's Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy

"Laurel Leff[...]has done a fine job...[a] wonderful book..."
-New York Daily News

-The New York Times

"This is the best book yet about American media coverage of the Holocaust, as well as an extremely important contribution to our understanding of America's response to the mass murder of the Jews."
-David S. Wyman, author of The Abandonment of the Jews: America and the Holocaust

"This important book answers--in a compelling fashion--some of the questions which have long been asked about the New York Times' coverage of the Holocaust. Probing far behind the headlines, Leff tells the fascinating story of how the Sulzberger family was rescuing its relatives from Germany at the same time that it was burying the story of the Holocaust in the inner recesses of the paper."
-Deborah E. Lipstadt, author of Beyond Belief: The American Press and the Coming of the Holocaust

"Laurel Leff has written an engrossing and important book about the abject failure of the world's most influential newspaper, The New York Times, to report on the Holocaust its owner and key figures knew was occurring. Her book tells us much about America at the time, the level of anti-Semitism, and the assimilationist desire of the Jewish owner of the Times to avoid stressing the unique Jewish nature of the genocide. It is part and parcel with the same mindset of the Roosevelt Administration. One can only wonder in great sorrow at how many lives might have been saved if the nation's and world's conscience had been touched by full and complete coverage by the Times of what remains the greatest crime of world history."
-Stuart E. Eizenstat, former senior official in the Clinton Administration and the Special Representative of President Clinton on Holocaust-Era Issues. Author of Imperfect Justice: Looted Assets, Slave Labor and the Unfinished Business of World War II

"...skilfully[...]written, researched, and analyzed..."
-New Haven Advocate

"A complicated important look back."
-The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"This is a well-researched and well-written book."
-Haim Genizi, The Journal of American History

"Buried by the Times is admirably relentless."
-Ron Hollander, Montclair State University, American Jewish History

..."thoroughly researched and so carefully written." -Owen V. Johnson, Jhistory

Book Description

An in-depth look at how The New York Times failed in its coverage of the fate of European Jews from 1939-45. It examines the many decisions that were made at The Times, that ultimately resulted in the minimizing, misunderstanding, and dilution of modern history's worst genocide.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 442 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (March 21, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521812879
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521812870
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #782,576 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By David E. Levine on April 28, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I was turned on to this book by a friend and when I next saw him, he asked me, refering to the author Laurel Leff's revelations, "did you know that?" I answered that I didn't know that the Times had basically hidden the news of the holocaust but, on the other hand, finding this out didn't surprise me. Sulzberger was an assimilated Jew, the descendent of Rabbi Steven Wise, a renowned Reform Rabbi whose theology was very assimilationist. Thus, despite his Jewishness, the Times rarely ran a major story about what was going on in the concentration camps and the stories that were written were not positioned in a prominent place. If they made the front page, it would not be postioned as the lead story.

Incredibly, the coverage of the holocaust did not mention "Jews" specifically. By reading the Times, you would not have known the extent of the genocide nor would you have known that Jews were the major target of the Nazi extermination efforts. It is important to note that there was never a "smoking gun" uncovered, i.e., a memo or written directive from Sulzberger ordering the staff of the Times to soft pedal the events in the concentration camps. What is beyond dispute is that the Sulzberger family was secular and did not view Jews as a people. What is further beyond dispute is that the coverage by the Times was scant. Thus, whether by directive or not, the Times failed miserably in its role as "journal of record," making a mockery of its motto "all the news that's fit to print. What is particularly reprehensible is that members of the Sulzberger family were being rescued while the details of the holocaust were being quashed.

The Times, could have been influential but, tragically, it failed to exercise it's influence.
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Format: Hardcover
Laurel Leff has provided not only an exhaustively researched account of the New York Times' coverage of the Holocaust, but also a nuanced account of how newspapers make decisions on the placement of news items. She shows how the failure of the nation's most important newspaper to recognize the importance of the Holocaust while it was occurring was in part traceable to the fact that those making the decisions on Page One play were lower-level editors without much clout. So they simply did what had always been done, and downplayed the importance of the Jews' suffering. Her portrayal of Publisher Arthur Hays Sulzberger's anti-Zionist leanings and connections also breaks new ground. This book is must reading for anyone interested in the history of America in the 1940s and for any student, professional or amateur, of American journalism. This goes far beyond the usual, cliched critique of the Times or other papers as being "biased" in one way or another. Leff also has a fine sense of style and tremendous command of her material.
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Format: Hardcover
One reviewer on Amazon criticized Laurel Leff for the tone of outrage which informs this work. But how is it possible not to be outraged when one considers that the Times, and its chief during the Second World War Arthur Sulzberger may well have been responsible ,through their downplaying of the story of the Nazi extermination campaign against the Jews, for not preventing the deaths of tens of thousands of people. Stories from the 'Times ' pointing out the evil of the Nazi plan might have for interested induced the Allies to bomb the rail- lines leading to Auschwitz. And that ' small action' might have saved thousands upon thousands of lives.

Moreover Leff does not simply rage out of thin air, but very carefully documents the whole story of the Times action. And she puts especial emphasis on the bias of the then publisher Sulzberger .His anti- Zionism, his desire to dissociate himself from any national Jewish connection, his fear of having the Times be labeled as a 'Jewish newspaper' all these were part of the formulating of a top- down policy in which the story of what would later come to be known as the 'Holocaust' was downplayed.

One feels the author has done a long- due and necessary job.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a very good book about how the New York Times family owners purposefully avoided dealing with the issue of anti-Semitism in Europe, and particularly Nazi Germany, while at the same time the Sulzberger family did everything it could to get its relatives out before the deluge. Laurel Leff has done a masterful job of showing how the Sulzberger clan became complicit in one of the darkest chapters in human history by not using the power of the paper to expose the real nature of the evil that Nazism was. Of course she does address the fact that anti-Semitism was not just a German issue, but from my perspective she does not go into enough detail about the extent of anti-Semitism in the US, and particularly major movers and shakers such as Joseph Kennedy who hated Jews so much that he always referred to them as "kikes" and opposed any action by the Roosevelt administration to educate the American public about the threat to Western civilization, even though he was ambassador to the Court of St. James at the time.

But the problem with this book is that it focuses on the Times as if it somehow committed this sin for the first time in misleading the American public. I agree with her thesis that the Times has been hoisted as the most influential paper in the world among lazy elites, including those who have reviewed her book, but that is rapidly changing now, primarily due to the fact that the paper has failed so miserably in many areas, including the latest diversions of small change like Jason Blair. But the biggest holocaust of the last century did not occur in the ovens built by the Nazis, it was committed in the Ukraine when Stalin's forced collectivization starved far more Ukrainians to death than Hitler killed with his Zyklon-B.
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