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The Memory of Judgment: Making Law and History in the Trials of the Holocaust Hardcover – May 1, 2001

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Editorial Reviews


"A worthy participant in the debate begun by Hannah Arend. . . a very good book about a very important topic." -- Robert A. Burt, Yale Law School

"Douglas fuses a rigorous legal critique with razor-sharp literary and historical sensibilities. The result is a vivid and gripping account." -- James E. Young, University of Massachusetts, author of The Texture of Memory and At Memory's Edge

"This remarkable book argues powerfully that the law can not only render justice, but also educate . . . . brilliant and authoritative." -- Michael R. Marrus, University of Toronto

"With exquisite grace, technical brilliance, and philosophic insight . . . a worthy successor to Hannah Arendt's Eichmann in Jerusalem" -- Owen Fiss, Yale University

[A] unique and well-written account of the various trials involving the genocide of European Jewry. -- Choice

From the Inside Flap

This powerful book offers the first detailed examination of the law's response to the crimes of the Holocaust. It presents a vivid, fascinating study of five historic proceedingsthe Nuremberg trial of the major Nazi war criminals, the Israeli trials of Adolf Eichmann and John Demjanjuk, the French trial of Klaus Barbie, and the Canadian trial of the Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel. These trials, the book argues, were "show trials" in the broadest sense: they aimed to do justice both to the defendants and to the history and memory of the Holocaust.

In a riveting account, Lawrence Douglas explores how prosecutors and jurors struggled to submit unprecedented crimes to legal judgment, and in so doing, to reconcile the interests of justice and pedagogy. Against the attacks of such critics as Hannah Arendt, Douglas defends the Nuremberg and Eichmann trials as imaginative, if flawed, responses to extreme crimes. By contrast, he shows how the Demjanjuk and Zundel trials turned into disasters of didactic legality, obfuscating the very history they were intended to illuminate.

In probing their success and shortcomings, Douglas reveals how these remarkable proceedings changed our understanding of both the Holocaust and the legal process. And in the process, he boldly challenges prevailing views of the value and limits of the law as a didactic tool.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; First Edition edition (May 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300084366
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300084368
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,971,505 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Ethan Katz on November 2, 2001
Format: Hardcover
The Memory of Judgement is a terrific and very timely book. Lawrence Douglas offers an exciting, compelling account of major Holocaust Trials from the Nuremberg and Eichmann Trials up through the recent trials of Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel.
Douglas' historical account is very compelling reading, from the standpoint of an exciting, well-crafted narrative, and, more impressively, because it steadily offers insight on very tough questions surrounding how to bring the perpetrators of atrocities to justice in a manner that also educates the larger public. As a reader, I was struck by the clarity with which the author describes the awesome, complex challenges facing prosecutors in six different trials that span more than fifty years, and by the convincing lines of connection drawn between these trials which vary greatly in setting and context.
At a time when we are in the process of bringing Slobodan Milosevic to trial for his crimes in Kosovo; at this moment when we are struggling with how to best bring the perpetrators of the terrorist attacks of September 11 to justice, this book is a provocative take on the grave challenges and responsibilities in using the courtroom to do legal and educational justice to atrocity. Ultimately, one finishes Douglas' book with a fascinating new framework for understanding these contemporary issues, realizing that past trials, if their lessons are applied, can serve as models when approaching present perpetrators.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mike Feder on April 28, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I read Mr. Douglas's book carefully and with fascination. It is, in my opinion, a profoundly important book; not just about the Holocaust but about many of the other issues it addresses, political, psychological, legal and historical. It is essential for anyone studying or practicing (or just interested in) International Criminal Law and Politics to read this book.
What we now take for granted as life and death international issues: Crimes Against Humanity, Genocide, etc. had their foundations in the Nuremberg, Eichmann and other trials discussed in this book.
It's a serious book, not for reading in the Dentist's office but will open your mind in any number of directions.
A superb achievement.
Mike Feder/(...)
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5 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Hall on January 24, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Lawrence Douglas' book is remarkable in parts, but his continued use of the passive voice and the wretched "one" third person (One opens the books, one reads the text, etc.) renders portions of the book almost unreadable. A less tortured writing style would have made this book better and opened it up to a broader audience.
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