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Holocaust: A History Hardcover – September 16, 2002

ISBN-13: 978-0393051889 ISBN-10: 0393051889 Edition: 1st
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

During the past half-century Holocaust studies have perhaps become the most vital area of historical research. Yet books with the significance of this new history of the Holocaust are rare it is exhaustive as well as consistently insightful. From the opening chapters in which the authors, contradicting popular wisdom, argue that the direct eliminationist roots of the Holocaust are found not so much in the centuries-old European anti-Semitic legal regulations, but in the Inquisition's intention of social purification, the Terror of the French Revolution and the massacre of 1.5 million Armenians by the Turks in 1915 Dwork and van Pelt challenge and provoke. Rather then viewing the Holocaust as a distinct historical phenomenon, the authors do their best to integrate it into a wide range of historical, cultural and social conditions. In discussing the German subjugation of Poland, for example, they focus on how gentile Poles saw the extermination of Jews as a precursor to their own fate; in their discussion of how Jews coped with ghetto life, the authors examine in detail the underground schooling systems that benefited both students and teachers. They also place the history of rescue efforts (usually based on personalities such as Oskar Schindler and Raoul Wallenberg) in a broader and more complicated geographic and social perspective. The book is also filled with fascinating details that challenge our preconceptions for instance, it is a myth, they note, that King Christian of Denmark wore a yellow star in sympathy with his country's Jews, since no Nazi order was ever given for Danish Jews to be so identified. Like their important earlier work Auschwitz (winner of a National Jewish Book Award), this is beautifully and lucidly written, presenting complex and important information in a highly accessible manner. 75 illus., 16 maps.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

This thoroughgoing work does not treat the Holocaust as an addendum to World War II but as a separate event deserving its own account.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (September 16, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393051889
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393051889
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #968,851 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By de Pizan on April 8, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This book almost more a history of anti-semitism, the main focus being anti-semitism during the Holocaust. It deals more with why the Holocaust happened, what the conditions were in Europe that led to it, and what attitudes were like toward the Jews. It explores what conditions were like in occupied countries and how the non-Jews were treated by the Germans. This treatment by the Nazis would often reflect on whether or not the country helped the Nazis in their efforts against the Jews. Many countries would collaborate if the general population was being treated well, but then again many would collaborate if they were being treated harshly and blame the Jews as the cause. The book also deals with the various plans the Nazis came up with in their effort to find the "perfect" plan to dispose of the Jews. There is only one rather short chapter on concentration camps, the rest covers quite a lot of new ground that I haven't read before in books dealing with the Holocaust. I gave it four stars because a few times it seemed to be getting away from the main topic of the book, but all in all it's an exactly source.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Bob on March 8, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is a superb, hard-to-put-down book. I found it to be well written, well organized, and, as a previous reviewer noted, meticulously footnoted. Consequently, I was surprised at what I found when I checked the source of one of the footnotes. On page 301 of the hardcover edition, the authors, critical of America's skepticism of Nazi atrocities in German-occupied Poland, state that "Time (Magazine) mockingly called the news from Poland the atrocity story of the week." Knowing that Time has an archive website and curious about this charge, I checked the footnoted source, the September 18, 1939 edition of Time (Footnote 54). What Time mocked was not allegations of Nazi atrocities but rather a United Press correspondent and German officers who had claimed that hundreds of German civilians had been killed and mutilated by retreating Poles. I don't doubt that there were some in America back then who doubted Nazi atrocities. Indeed, unfortunately a few still do. But the Time Magazine article does not support the authors' case. I had no interest in checking additional citations and I hope this was an isolated error in an otherwise outstanding book.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful By dougrhon on June 17, 2003
Format: Hardcover
The scholar seeking to write a comprehensive history of the Holocaust is confronted at the outset with two significant problems. Too broad a focus on the �big picture� will tend to obscure the humanity of the individual victims who will come to seem abstract. Too narrow a focus on individual stories will, inevitably, diminish the shear scope of the horror which is really too great for the human mind to comprehend. The scholar must, therefore, try to reconcile both the larger picture and also to humanize the victims, to give them faces and names and backgrounds, to demonstrate their suffering. In this brilliant new book, which is destined to become the new standard one volume text on the Holocaust, the authors succeed brilliantly.
They begin by developing the broader picture, showing how racial anti-Semitism grew in Europe and how it metastasized in Germany under Hitler. The book then follows the horrible story chronologically as the Nazis systematically remove the Jews from all aspects of German society setting the stage for genocide with the outbreak of war. Not neglected is the role played by other European countries in supporting the annihilation of European Jewry. Repeated are the familiar stories of how Denmark rescued its Jewish citizens and how France cooperated with its Nazi overlords. Not well known, however, is the fact that Romania, actually carried out its own formal program of genocide, independent of Germany, the only European country to do so
The book is meticulously footnoted and quite scholarly but the writing is always lively and riveting. It is filled with quotes and anecdotes from a number of survivors and presents their stories in detail.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Richard Satkowski on April 17, 2004
Format: Paperback
Last January I began a comprhensive study of the holocaust. I was looking for a book that would provide me with an accurate overview and a good working framework to organize my study. This book provided me with all the tools I needed.It is well researched, well organized and well written.I cannot understand why anyone would call this excellent text boring or difficult to raad unless that person had little interest in the holocaust to begin with. I highly recommend this book.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Anna Karenina on December 10, 2007
Format: Paperback
I was looking for a readable, reasonably detailed overview of the Holocaust and this book fit the bill perfectly. I appreciate the "voice" of the authors, which enters the writing regularly. They don't shy away from making judgments of the masses of people who acquiesced in the early stages of the Holocaust and stood by as the final solution unfolded. As I read the book, I constantly wondered how people could do these terrible things. The one thing I would have liked to see is a little more on that question. I would have liked an overview of theories, and also a little more background on anti-semitism. One of the depressing things about the Holocaust is that so many countries were happy to go along with Hitler's war against the Jews. Perhaps one volume just can't deal with all issues...now I'm looking for a follow up that deals more with "why?"
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