"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.