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Paul Gelman "PAUL Y. GELMAN" RSS Feed (HAIFA , ISRAEL)
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The Age of Atheists: How We Have Sought to Live Since the Death of God
The Age of Atheists: How We Have Sought to Live Since the Death of God
by Peter Watson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $24.36
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Boring and boring again!, August 9, 2014
In contrast to Peter Watson's previous books- and I must admit I really liked most of them tremendously -this volume can be described as a total and big bore. It looks as if Mr. Watson has accumulated a number of pertinent authors and summed up their ideas, without having anything new to say about this important and controversial subject. Save your hard-earned money for a better author.


The Fantastic Laboratory of Dr. Weigl: How Two Brave Scientists Battled Typhus and Sabotaged the Nazis
The Fantastic Laboratory of Dr. Weigl: How Two Brave Scientists Battled Typhus and Sabotaged the Nazis
by Arthur Allen
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.04
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The depraved scientific politics of the Nazis, July 26, 2014
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The Nazi ideology of "Geomedizin"-that illness was as irrefutable and inevitable result of culture- had a significance for the Jews and other peoples in Eastern Europe. The louse, carrier of typhus, was a symbol of the Jew :a filthy, parasitic, blood-sucking disease element which had penetrated the German nation long ago. If so, according to Julius Streicher, the infamous editor of 'Der Sturmer', the Jew as a bacillus and a plague is not a human being but rather an enemy, a criminal and a disease carrier, thus he must be eliminated.
In addtion, Hitler and his bunch of criminals were afraid that typhus might be a serious hindrance which could stay in the way of achieving their dream of mastering Europe. Because the disease plagued the Nazi troops in Eastern Europe, the Nazis were desperately looking for a solution.
For this they turned toRudolf Weigl, the Polish scientist who had a world reputation thanks to the fact that it was he who succeeded in creating a vaccine which was effective against the disease.In February 1940, no less a figure than Nikita Khrushchev visited Weigl at his laboratory, offering him a job at the Soviet Academy of Medicine in Moscow. Weigl declined.
After the departure of the Russians from Lwow in 1941, the city where Weigl was working in, the city became a "Hobbeian theater, every man for himself under a ruthless occupant, the Nazis.Typhus was rampant there, and Weigl even considered leaving the city, but eventually decided to stay.It is estimated that at least 3000 people were working for his institute, which became a tool of deceiving the Nazis and a shelter for many victims of the Nazis. The tens of millions of lice used in the vaccine during the war descended from a cross between lice gathered from the clothing of Russians in Austrian POW camps during WW1, and an Ethiopian variety that Weigl had obtained in Addis Ababa. Wegl employed doomed scientists,writers, doctors and others and thus saved their lives. In addition, he and his workers shipped ton of a weakened serum to the Wehrmacht.
Among those saved was another scientist, the Jewish immunologist Ludwick Fleck, who was sent to Buchenwald. Fleck was forced to create and re-create a typhus vaccine under the direction of Erwin Ding, who was called "a Dummkopf who earned a dissertation only on the basis of his services for the party". Being so, Fleck and his colleagues produced two types of the vaccine: one that had no value and was perfectly harmless, and went to the front; and a second type, in very small quantities, that was efficatious and was used in special cases for the comrades who worked at Buchenwald.
All this continued until March 1945.
Weigl died in 1957 of a heart attack, while Fleck immigrated to Israel.
The book is based on many new and untapped documents as well as many interviews with some relevant persons and is a good read,original and well written, although somehow in a dry language. All in all, I recommend it. very much.


Operation Valuable Fiend: The CIA's First Paramilitary Strike Against the Iron Curtain
Operation Valuable Fiend: The CIA's First Paramilitary Strike Against the Iron Curtain
by Albert Lulushi
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.05
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars CIA'S First Cold War Failure, July 8, 2014
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Operation "Valuable Fiend" was conceived at the end of the forties in the previous century. Its purpose was to overthrow the Communists from power in Albania. By doing so, it would signify the first open revolt behind the Iron Curtain and would encourage other anti-Communist elements in the Soviet bloc, would knock out Kremlin's sense of security and show the Soviets that the West could match in kind their tactics for supporting guerrillas and subversive activities in their area of influence. It would also save the situation in Greece by cutting off Albania as one of the remaining two sources of support for the Communist guerrillas, the other source, Bulgaria, would be intimidated and cutting off the flow of men and supplies through their borders for fear of risking a similar fate.
Mr. Lulushi has written a splendidly researched book on one of the less famous episodes of the CIA's Cold War covert actions. He comes to remedy Nicholas Bethell's book "Betrayed" on the same subject, by examining previously untapped sources, dismissing almost totally Kim Philby's role in the whole affair.
Who were the key players in this operation? Where did they come from and how did their background influence their choices and actions durind the operation? What happened to them afterward? What did the agency learn -or not learn- from this failure?
These are only some points discussed widely in this book, which incorporates new material as well as interviews with sons and daughters of some key figures in this operation, which was the first one of its kind in the history of the CIA.
Unfortunately for the West, the whole operation was one of total failure for many reasons, as stated in the book. The CIA and MI6
did not accomplish the goals they set, because the Sigurimi, the Secret Albanian Police,and the KGB turned the tables on them and used and killed or captured agents for propaganda purposes for years to come.. The Albanians who took part in the affair suffered terrible losses. Dozens perished, and several more who were captured spent the rest of their lives in Communist prisons or hard labour camps. The regime uprooted their families and persecuted hem for decades, generation after generation.
Operation Valuable Fiend never developed beyond the reconnaissance and intelligence-gathering stage.The result of this experiment showed it was extremely hard to achieve the goal of overthrowing a Communist regime. Rollling back the Iron Curtain was too hard. Other operations, such as those in Guatemala and Iran were far more successful, but had eventually turned out to be preludes to disasters, since Guatemala sank into a civil war, while the Shah of Iran was run out of power in 1979.
The Albanian affair ended in 1954, when the CIA virtually abandoned all infiltration operations in Albania and dismissed the handful of Albanian agents still on its rolls in Greece.
The book, which has eighteen chapters, each one devoted to another sub-topic, includes maps and many hitherto unpublished photos. Highly recommended!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 8, 2014 11:36 AM PDT


July Crisis: The World's Descent into War, Summer 1914
July Crisis: The World's Descent into War, Summer 1914
by Thomas G. Otte
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $22.49
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is one of the best volumes written about the Great War, July 6, 2014
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This is one of the best volumes written about the Great War. It concerns the diplomatic efforts invested by the various policy makers during the crisis. This is ( only ) diplomatic history at its best, written by a master historian, who looks and examines many issues from a new perspective, especially the German points of view. Germany is the main culprit , although others are also criticized for being responsible for the outbreak of the war. Although this is not an easy read , the book is definitely highly recommended.


The Great and Holy War: How World War I Became a Religious Crusade
The Great and Holy War: How World War I Became a Religious Crusade
by Philip Jenkins
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $21.45
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18 of 29 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A narrow-minded view of WW1, July 5, 2014
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The main idea behind this book is simple: religion was the driving force behind WW1. This view is extremely wrong and it distorts the real motives which were responsible for the unleashing of the war. Mr Jenkins ignores all the various aspects such as the diplomatic entanglements, the imperialistic factors, the clashes between the various ideologies and many more things and offers the reader a minimal view , supported by a limited number of clergymen and what they thought about the war. True, there were religious manifestations and characteristics which took place during 1914-1918. But to claim that the war was a religious crusade, as the subtitle suggests, is a gross distortion of facts.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 21, 2014 7:12 AM PDT


The Zhivago Affair: The Kremlin, the CIA, and the Battle Over a Forbidden Book
The Zhivago Affair: The Kremlin, the CIA, and the Battle Over a Forbidden Book
by Peter Finn
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.04
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars When Books Were Weapons in the Cold War, July 1, 2014
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During the Cold War, the CIA was engaged in relentless global warfare with the Kremlin. The agency used a host of front organizations and phony foundations, spent many millions of dollars to fund concert tours, art exhibitions, magazines, academic research, student activities and book publishing. All theses were weapons in the covert action against the Soviet Union masterminded by George Kennan, who was the intellectual author behind this. One estimate says that some 10 million books and periodicals were distributed by the CIA in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. "Doctor Zhivago" was one of those books which was printed and distributed clandestinely in the main Russian cities.
This book, which is just one episode in the colossal ideological battle between the two superpowers, is excellent and is very original. The authors have put in a tremendous effort in researching its topic, using many untapped archives and interviews. It reads like a fast best-selling political thriller. This is a fascinating account of the propaganda machines the USA used against the Eastern Bloc, showing Pasternak's and his friends' courage and it shows to what extent the battle for the minds of the readers in the East was conducted. It is also a detailed story about the cultural and intellectual background of the thirties to the fifties in the USSR.
This battle over the publication of "Doctor Zhivago" was one of the first efforts by the CIA to leverage books as instruments of political warfare. It was Khrushchev himself who admitted in the end that the Russians "caused much harm to the Soviet Union "and added that he was "truly sorry for the way he behaved toward Pasternak".
There were additional writers who followed Pasternak's way, among them Solzhenitsyn and Brodsky.This book is highly recommended.


The Month that Changed the World: July 1914
The Month that Changed the World: July 1914
by Gordon Martel
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $25.79
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It Happened Almost One Hundred Years Ago !, June 27, 2014
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It was exactly this day almost one hundred years ago when all hell broke loose and the gates of Armageddon opened. The First World War started and the world would not be the same. Empires disappeared, a new world order was established, 9 million people died, 30 million were injured or maimed and this war, which was supposed to end all wars, was just the prelude to another more devastating and disatrous tragedy, namely that of WW2.
Enter Gordon Martel's brilliant study which examines that fateful month, July 1914, in which the principal players of the tragedy were responsible for the unleashing of it.
The author claims that his purpose in writing the book was to provide the reader with the story of "how Europe got from A to B; how it moved from the assassination of the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary on the 28th of June, 1914,to the declaration of war by five of the Great Powers of Europe at the beginning of August." It is a book of how it happened.
This study is divided into four main parts, starting with a long introduction on European politics at the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth. It then commences with the killing of Franz Ferdinand and the reaction to it and then moves on describing the fateful days in July and August 1914. The last part gives the reader on overview of the historiography on the question of who was to be blamed for the outbreak of the war.
Mr. Martel is quite honest when he writes that to this day there are many unsolved questions regarding the Great War, but also makes it clear that a combination of hubris, chance and circumstance caused it.
The author gives a very detailed description of how the descent into the abyss of war came about, by providing a very good background of the principal players involved. He also shows to what extent the war might have been avoided every day, and this he does by writing about the every minute-to-minute decisions which were taken then.. He examines the dilpomatic , military and political records as well as the process of the decision makers, among them Tsar Nicholas 2, the Emperor Franz Joseph, Sir Edward Grey and many other famous personalities .
This book is brilliant because it is written in the style of a first- rate thriller and is researched in depth . It also includes a good bibliographical list and many photos and is highly recommended for those who would like to know the essentials of World War One.


Stalin's American Spy: Noel Field, Allen Dulles   and the East European Show-Trials
Stalin's American Spy: Noel Field, Allen Dulles and the East European Show-Trials
by Tony Sharp
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $24.26
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!, June 13, 2014
This book shows to what extent Stalin went in order to incriminate those whom he considered subversive elements and obstacles on the road of achieving his goals of total mastery of Eastern Europe.
It suggests that Noel Field, who was working in the State Department, may have been a double spy working simultaneously for his American and Soviets masters. It shows to what extent Stalin went in order to conduct purge trials and the relationship between Allen Dulles and Field.
This is an extremely well researched and original book, packed with new information on every of its pages, offering new insights about the minds of those who took part in the Great Game of the Cold War. Highly reccomended.


Goodbye to All That?: A History of Europe Since 1945
Goodbye to All That?: A History of Europe Since 1945
by Dan Stone
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $35.96
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Boring and repetitive, April 5, 2014
If you would like to try and read a boring book which repeats its thesis a number of times, read this book. It adds nothing to the understanding of the Cold War and the very use of the term anti-fascism is fuzzy and misleading. One gets the feeling that even the author himself was trying very hard to build a theory around which to substantiate his claims but failed to do so. There are other superb books on postwar Europe.In this respect, one can only mention the books by the late Tony Judt. This present volume does not even contain one iota of originality and is a long bore-all this because of the terrible editing of it as well.


The Prince of Medicine: Galen in the Roman Empire
The Prince of Medicine: Galen in the Roman Empire
by Susan P. Mattern
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $21.18
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating !, March 29, 2014
This biography is one of the best ones about a great doctor in ancient times. Galen was a polymath and mastered many fields. The book describes in great detail not only Galen's life, but also the times in which he lived. The Roman Empire comes alive in Professor's Mattern's book .This multi-dimentional doctor was definitely unique in those times and the modern reader will be baffled by Galen's healing methods. True, it was Vesalius who demolished many of Galen's theories, nevertheless Galen has made a huge contribution to the development of medicine by the very fact that he conductued an endless number of dissections and vivisections, demonstrating again and again the way the anatomy of monkeys was similar to that of human beings. In a way, he was the precursor of Darwin.
This is an excellent book, superbly researched (although it has some weak spots and a good editor might have improved them) and is much enjoyable.


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