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Letters from Nuremberg: My Father's Narrative of a Quest for Justice [Hardcover]

by Christopher Dodd, Lary Bloom
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)

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Book Description

September 11, 2007 0307381161 978-0307381163 1
For some sixty years, the Nuremberg trials have demonstrated the resolve of the United States and its fellow Allied victors of the Second World War to uphold the principles of dispassionate justice and the rule of law even when cries of vengeance threatened to carry the day. In the summer of 1945, soon after the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany, Thomas J. Dodd, the father of U.S. Senator Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut, traveled to the devastated city of Nuremberg to serve as a staff lawyer in this unprecedented trial for crimes against humanity. Thanks to his agile legal mind and especially to his skills at interrogating the defendants—including such notorious figures as Hermann Göring, Alfred Rosenberg, Albert Speer, Joachim von Ribbentrop, and Rudolf Hess—he quickly rose to become the number two prosecutor in the U.S. contingent.

Over the course of fifteen months, Dodd described his efforts and his impressions of the proceedings in nightly letters to his wife, Grace. The letters remained in the Dodd family archives, unexamined, for decades. When Christopher Dodd, who followed his father’s path to the Senate, sat down to read the letters, he was overwhelmed by their intimacy, by the love story they unveil, by their power to paint vivid portraits of the accused war criminals, and by their insights into the historical importance of the trials.

Along with Christopher Dodd’s reflections on his father’s life and career, and on the inspiration that good people across the world have long taken from the event that unfolded in the courtroom at Nuremberg, where justice proved to be stronger than the most unspeakable evil, these letters give us a fresh, personal, and often unique perspective on a true turning point in the history of our time. In today’s world, with new global threats once again put-ting our ideals to the test, Letters from Nuremberg reminds us that fear and retribution are not the only bases for confrontation. As Christopher Dodd says here, “Now, as in the era of Nuremberg, this nation should never tailor its eternal principles to the conflict of the moment, for if we do so, we will be shadowing those we seek to overcome.”

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

At the Nuremberg trials of Nazi leaders after WWII, America's lead prosecutor, Chief Justice Robert Jackson, had an Achilles' heel: cross-examination. Thus emerged a young attorney, Thomas Dodd, whose inquisition of the brilliant Hermann Göring provided the centerpiece of the trials. Walter Cronkite, who covered Nuremberg, said years later that Dodd had saved the day. These letters reveal that Dodd felt slighted by Jackson early on and almost left before the trial. Unexpectedly, in 1990, his children discovered Dodd's voluminous correspondence from Nuremberg to his wife, Grace. What shines through these letters describing the trial and events leading up to it is the writer's unfussy concern for righteousness, which under the circumstances meant winning the case—and in the proper way. (One Nazi general he interrogated, Dodd said, really should not be in prison... he is and was persona non grata with the Nazis.) Dodd (who like his son, presidential hopeful Christopher, later became a senator) was a very good writer; his descriptions of the trial and the defendants (Göring reminded him of a captured lion) are evocative. These excerpted letters make for fascinating reading and must be considered an essential addition to Nuremberg studies. 8 pages of b&w photos. (Sept. 11)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


“In researching my book on Nuremberg, the trial sprang to life when I encountered the role of prosecutor Thomas Dodd. Fortunately, in hundreds of letters home, Dodd recorded an unvarnished insider view of the tribunal. Today the outcome of Nuremberg may seem foregone. But Dodd’s vivid account reveals how feuds among allies, prosecutors and judges nearly sank the world’s first trial in which the rule of law triumphed over a reign of barbarism.”
—Joseph E. Persico, author of Nuremberg: Infamy on Trial

“Tom Dodd was not only a most competent pretrial interrogator and courtroom prosecutor, but was admired and liked by me and all others who worked with him. LETTERS FROM NUREMBERG shows how much that famous trial still affects us today. Tom Dodd’s letters have the immediacy and emotional power of a novel. This book is a terrific addition to the Nuremberg legacy.”
—Richard W. Sonnenfeldt, Chief Interpreter for the American Prosecution at the Nuremberg Trials and author of Witness to Nuremberg

“At times anguished and stimulating, always informative and insightful, Thomas Dodd’s personal letters from the Nuremburg trial to his wife as presented by his son, Senator Christopher Dodd, constitute an important contribution to History. All those interested in the events resulting from the darkest zones of humanity will find this volume of great value.”
—Elie Wiesel

“This book is a tour de force–a gold mine for historians, an intimate love story, and a compelling portrait of key Nazi figures. Splendidly edited, the letters capture as never before the intrigue, the infighting, and the daily drama of one of the most important trials in history.”
—Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of Team of Rivals

“Thomas Dodd’s letters from Nuremberg illuminate the most important trial of the 20th Century through the moving and insightful reflections of a husband, father and patriot as he made history. Chris Dodd places his father’s letters and the trial in context brilliantly, contrasting America’s deep commitment to the rule of law at Nuremberg with our unfortunate abandonment of that commitment at Guantanamo today. The publication of these letters is especially timely now, as we struggle to regain the respect we so justly earned 60 years ago when we demonstrated to the world the immense power of the rule of law.”
—Senator Edward Kennedy

“LETTERS FROM NUREMBERG is actually two important and absorbing books in one. Thomas Dodd’s letters take us into the emotional heart of that complex trial that established Nazi crimes for all future generations of humankind. Christopher Dodd’s meditations on them show us the compelling importance of his father’s experience at Nuremberg to our own world sixty years later.”
—Michael Beschloss, author of Presidential Courage

“The content of LETTERS FROM NUREMBERG represents an insightful, very personal perspective into the daily workings of the Nuremberg trials. Chris skillfully extrapolates this historic chapter of European history from the loving correspondence between his father, abroad in a war-torn land, and his mother, coping with the demands of a young family remaining at home. This book, written by my valued friend and colleague, will rightfully take its place on the shelf of history.”
—Senator John Warner

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Crown; 1 edition (September 11, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307381161
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307381163
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,052,925 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An extraordinary treasure trove September 14, 2007
I read this book cover to cover in one day. It is unique, fascinating from a historical perspective, moving for the beautiful love story it contains, and particularly relevant in light of the current environment in the United States. It is definitely one of the best books I have read in quite awhile. Although this book was authored and edited by a presidential candidate, it is in an entirely different realm from other politician's publications.

I loved what Senator Dodd had to say about how the U.S. gained the moral authority to lead by submitting to the rule of law at Nuremberg, extending rights and protections to some of the most despicable people in history because it was the just, moral action to take. Senator Dodd contrasts this to how the U.S. has walked away from guaranteeing these protections in recent years and the subsequent deterioration of the moral high ground we once occupied.

The letters are just an incredible find -- they are intimate and tender at times, while also a true first draft of history from someone who was a participant. No matter what your politics, the letters are fascinating.

I bought "Letters from Nuremberg" after hearing Senator Dodd's interview about the book and his presidential campaign on Charlie Rose's program. It was a great price on amazon and I have been enthusiastically recommending it to all my friends, as I do now.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insight into an important slice of history November 1, 2007
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As a young journalist, I knew Tom Dodd, and knew he'd been a prosecutor at Nuremberg -- but knew little else. His letters to his wife, compiled by his son Chris Dodd, have wonderful insights into the inchoate process with which the Nazi war-crimes trial began, and the evolution into a model for future dealings with brutal war behavior. Along the way I was fascinated to learn that Tom Dodd, whom I knew as a Cold War hawk, was deeply disturbed by what wars do.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Reading September 17, 2007
By Patrick
I really enjoyed this book. It's a collection of letters from the number 2 prosecuter of the Nuremberg trials. Not only is it from his point of view, it also shows the lovingness that existed between him and his wife, that these letters were writen to.

It's a shame that someone can not critique a book on only it's content with out putting his/her opinion, let alone a political opinion.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An exceptional book about an exceptional man September 20, 2007
Senator Dodd reminds us all, through the letters of his father, of our need to maintain a steady moral compass as we negotiate a difficult balance between the security of our nation and the civil rights that are the backbone our country was built upon.

At a recent book signing at "Politics and Prose" in Washington, DC, Senator Dodd was asked if his father's career influenced his decision to become a public servant. He told the story of his father, interviewed weeks before his death, being asked if he knew how his political career would end (censure and then failing to win re-election)would he do it again. Senator Thomas Dodd answered (and I am paraphrasing) "A lawyer can help only so many clients in his career - a doctor only so many patients but as a public servant one is able to help millions of people. I would do it again without hesitation." This book offers facinating insite into the dedication of this honorable man to his country, to his family and to the rule of law that makes us great.

(And as an aside, I-Man is wrong. Chris Dodd is not riding the coattails of his father. Anyone taking the time to familiarize themselves with the work that he has done in his 30 plus years as a public servant would know that he is exceptionally qualified to be the President of the United States.)
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An unusual historical document, but sometimes tedious December 6, 2007
I didn't know that the father of the senior senator from Connecticut was one of the chief prosecutors at the Nurenburg trials. Dodd begins by giving us a background narrative of his family which I found very useful. The bulk of the book consists--as the title indicates--of letters written by Tom Dodd to his wife. The trials lasted much longer than Dodd had anticipated. The letters reveal a man with a keen eye for detail when describing the defendants and his description of Himmler is especially interesting. There is also a lot of speculation about his running for governor and we get to see some behind-the-scenes political maneuvering. On the negative side, his constant whining about how he misses his wife becomes tedious and it might have been useful for the author to have edited these letters a bit more judiciously. If you are looking for a true history of the trials, this is not the book for you. However, the book provides a true insider view of what really went on and is a valuable historical document as such.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chris Dodd Book January 2, 2008
This is a great book that provides a unique perspective on the Nuremberg trials. Highly recommended.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars LETTERS FROM NUREMBERG October 19, 2007
ASIN:0307381161 Letters from Nuremberg: My Father's Narrative of a Quest for Justice]
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Non-Fiction October 8, 2007
If you are looking for information on the Nuremberg Trials you will not get it from this book. The historical information contained within this book and the atrocities committed during WW II.

There is also good insight into the inter-relationships of the people who were involved in the trial itself. One of the most surprising parts is concerning the great love this man portrays for his wife and children.

Also how he felt being away from home during this period of time. He lets us know what a great country we live in and not to forget the evil that still lurks in other parts of the world.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Letters from Nuremberg: My Father's Narrative of a Quest for Justice:...
A most interesting book, different from anything I have ever read. These are letters written by Senator Christopher Dodd's father, Thomas J. Dodd. Read more
Published 4 months ago by dep
5.0 out of 5 stars This was a really good read!
Being born during WWII, and growing up hearing stories about life during that time, I have a strong interest in history. (My Uncle George was KIA on 7 Dec 1941. Read more
Published 7 months ago by AlleyOop
2.0 out of 5 stars needed more info on trial
Have to agree with other dissenters of the book. Too many complaints about not getting letters from his wife and very little about the actual trial. Read more
Published 22 months ago by easternli
5.0 out of 5 stars An Insider's View
This book was never intended to be a complete historical record of the Nuremberg trials; it is a collection of letters sent from prosecutor Thomas Dodd in Germany to his wife. Read more
Published on April 15, 2012 by Sandy Hack
5.0 out of 5 stars A Personal and Public History of the Nuremberg Trials
This is a book that is personal as well as a message to the ages. It presents the lessons of international law and discusses historic and recent examples. Read more
Published on September 6, 2010 by LEON L CZIKOWSKY
4.0 out of 5 stars Nuremburg
I have not read this book as I let a friend borrow it to read and her review is that it is an excellent book.
Published on September 12, 2009 by Marjorie L. Heaton
1.0 out of 5 stars A dispensable book...
I bought the book because I thought it would be an important contribution for our understanding of Nuremberg Trials. Read more
Published on August 25, 2009 by Lord Luger
3.0 out of 5 stars Travesty
This book is a travesty, a misuse of important historical sources. These letters, rediscovered by the Dodd family in 1990, should have been compiled into a book by a historian of... Read more
Published on July 11, 2008 by esskayee
4.0 out of 5 stars History is a harsh judge
Dodd's letters truly present the allies (except the USSR) effort to insure that future generations would see the fairness and lawfullness of their deliberations. Read more
Published on January 2, 2008 by BRYSONMACDONALD
2.0 out of 5 stars Not as Advertised
After reading Ellie Wiesel's characterization of this book as "an important contribution to history", I wonder if he actually read the book or just skimmed some pre-publication... Read more
Published on December 29, 2007 by jednick
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