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War and Genocide: A Concise History of the Holocaust (Critical Issues in World and International History) [Paperback]

Doris L. Bergen
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Book Description

February 16, 2009 0742557154 978-0742557154 2nd
In examining one of the defining events of the twentieth century, Doris L. Bergen situates the Holocaust in its historical, political, social, cultural, and military contexts. Unlike many other treatments of the Holocaust, this revised, second edition discusses not only the persecution of the Jews, but also other segments of society victimized by the Nazis: Gypsies, homosexuals, Poles, Soviet POWs, the handicapped, and other groups deemed undesirable. With clear and eloquent prose, Bergen explores the two interconnected goals that drove the Nazi German program of conquest and genocide—purification of the so-called Aryan race and expansion of its living space—and discusses how these goals affected the course of World War II. Including firsthand accounts from perpetrators, victims, and eyewitnesses, the book is immediate, human, and eminently readable.

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War and Genocide: A Concise History of the Holocaust (Critical Issues in World and International History) + Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland + Survival In Auschwitz
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Editorial Reviews


A book that will likely be required reading in college-level courses for years to come. . . . A detailed overview of the Holocaust. (History In Review)

A meticulous, sensitive account of the Nazi race wars that combines a powerful narrative and explanatory drive at the same time as it illuminates individual lives and fates with searing precision. While giving full weight to the antisemitic core of Nazi racism, Bergen also shows why it claimed so many other groups of victims, and pursues it to its appalling climax in the wars of imperialist conquest and exploitation launched in 1939. This is a distinctive and remarkable achievement, as assured as it is readable. (Jane Caplan, University of Oxford)

This precise textbook accomplishes much: it provides a wide-angle view of what the Holocaust was and is in clear historiographical terms, challenges students to think through facts and interpretations surrounding the historical study of the Holocaust, and complements—and is short enough to allow the inclusion of—primary sources in a course. I will use it as long as I can. (Jeanne Grant, Metropolitan State University)

About the Author

Doris L. Bergen is Chancellor Rose and Ray Wolfe Professor of Holocaust Studies at the University of Toronto.

Product Details

  • Series: Critical Issues in World and International History
  • Paperback: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers; 2nd edition (February 16, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0742557154
  • ISBN-13: 978-0742557154
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #27,276 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brief but comprehensive November 29, 2004
Dr. Doris L. Bergen has been a history professor since 1991 at University of Vermont and the University of Notre Dame. Her research and written works on Nazism, the Third Reich, Christian antisemitism, and the Volksdeutschen have made her especially qualified to write this brief history of the Holocaust. There is no specific mention of any direct or familial involvement with the Second World War (Bergen 263). War & Genocide: A Concise History of the Holocaust has an extensive bibliography which covers the entire spectrum on this topic, including general and specialized secondary research, official records, and firsthand accounts in the form of diaries and journals.

While unbiased accounts are the goal in historical research, it is extraordinarily difficult to be without an anti-Nazi bias when writing on the Holocaust. Such a traumatic event in the course of human affairs is inherently and undeniably emotional. A dispassionate account of the Holocaust would not only be uninteresting, it would be inappropriate on many important levels. Bergen uses her talents of discretion to balance the work by making it accessible on an emotional level to even serious students of history while not letting her anti-Nazi bias destroy the validity of her research.

The book is intended to be a concise history of the larger events of the Nazi takeover of Europe and their extermination of "undesirables." Bergen accomplishes this by describing the major and pertinent events of the period with minimal digression. She also keeps the events of the Holocaust in context of the larger context of the war in such a way that the reader is not lost in the details.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars exceptionally useful and moving October 7, 2003
By A Customer
This is an exceptionally useful and moving textbook on the Third Reich, World War Two, and the Holocaust. My students' response in an upper-level course on German history was outright enthusiastic. The range of aspects covered in this volume is impressive: we learn about the wider European cultural-ideological context as well as about specifically German preconditions for Nazi policies; the author discusses internal developments in the Third Reich as well as the international repercussions of war and genocide. Perhaps most important, Bergen confronts the difficult moral questions of these devastating and dramatic events. This is one of the most intelligent and helpful treatments of this topic. Bergen's writing sets new standards for clarity when relating complex historical developments.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Understated but Overwhelming February 17, 2012
About a third of the way through Doris Bergen's book War & Genocide, I began to realize that it had the emotionally neutral tone and linear organization of a conventional textbook. My initial response was that this way of presenting material outside a classroom setting was not to the author's credit. As I neared the end of Bergen's powerfully succinct and informative history of the Holocaust, however, I realized that her stylistic approach was exactly the right one. Had the author not maintained an understated affect coupled with a matter-of-fact, linear account, I doubt that I would have finished the book. There are just too many gut-wrenching horrors on a truly massive scale, one after another, to be able to tolerate the story if it were presented in a more emotionally charged way.

According to Bergen, fifty-five million people died in World War II. Of these, a large but precisely indeterminate number were victims of the Holocaust. The Holocaust brought death to captured soldiers on the wrong side, soldiers on the right side who lost their nerve and ran, nondescript civilians in the wrong place at the wrong time, Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, Free Masons, Jehovah's Witnesses, devoted Christians suspected of placing Christ before the Fuhrer, Poles, Slavs, pregnant women, children, old men, the disabled, the mentally ill ... there is no end to the list of descriptive categories, including some, such as "asocials," contrived by the Nazis just for homicidal convenience. For the reader of War & Genocide, page after page of sometimes vicious, more often straightforward and unemotional killing of innocents may be too much to take in.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I bought this book because it was a requirement for my German history class at college. If I had excess funds I would probably not think twice about buying this book even if it were not a requirement for my course because it describes the Holocaust very well, Amazon provides a very reasonable price, and that it is not a very condense book as it is less than 300 pages long. This book was very interesting to read and I learned many news things about the Holocaust, some of which were that Jews were not the only ones persecuted and/or systematically murdered by the Nazis as the Gypsies along with homosexuals, Freemasons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Communists, and Soviet prisoners of war were victims as well. I highly recommend this book to anyone above the age thirteen to buy and/or read this book because you will most likely learn numerous more facts about the Holocaust than you currently know, you will not have to read many books on the subject to understand the Holocaust well, you can buy it for a fair price on Amazon, and that it is very concise.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars War and Genocide
It was alright. It wasn't my favorite thing to read, but I do recommend it to historians and or people interested in this type of thing.
Published 2 months ago by Elizabeth
5.0 out of 5 stars This textbook came in handy
This is a great textbook. It answered a lot of questions that I had over the years. I'm glad the professor recommended this book.
Published 4 months ago by BJs Great Finds
3.0 out of 5 stars Required for class
Didn't like the way the author explicitly said her ideas where sometimes contrary to mainstream or popular thought with out providing supporting evidence for the opinion. Read more
Published 17 months ago by K. fioretti
5.0 out of 5 stars Great History of the Holocaust
The book looks like it will be a great read for my college course on the Holocaust. Arrived on time, in excellent condition, and a good price!
Published 18 months ago by Daniel Franch
5.0 out of 5 stars School Text
On Kindle, which I really love. Haven't read it yet but know it will be great for me. Thanks for putting more books on Kindle.
Published 18 months ago by GeneCS
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Informative; Unbiased
This is one of the best Holocaust texts that I have read. Bergen does not waste space making her own assumptions; she presents an unbiased view toward the events, tells them in... Read more
Published on February 28, 2012 by KelleyM
5.0 out of 5 stars war and genocide
this type of book is important to remind the world that such a thing happened. it shows how much hate one people can have for another and how far they are willing to go to... Read more
Published on October 2, 2011 by david
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Book
This is a very good and informative book on the holocaust. It reads like a text book and is full of tidbits of information on subjects associated with the holocaust. Read more
Published on September 16, 2011 by Steve
5.0 out of 5 stars this is a fine book
Professor Bergen has really written an outstanding short account of the Holocaust. "Concise" is exactly right. But this book is thorough, too. Read more
Published on February 7, 2010 by chicagoreader
4.0 out of 5 stars War and Genocide: A Concice History of the Holosaust
The item I purchase was in great condition and was sent to me within a reasonable time frame which I appreciate.
Published on October 13, 2008 by Jessica A. Lee
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