- Hardcover: 552 pages
- Publisher: PublicAffairs; 1 edition (April 18, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1610398440
- ISBN-13: 978-1610398442
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.6 x 9.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 27 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #69,482 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Holocaust: A New History 1st Edition
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"Anyone wanting a compelling, highly readable explanation of how and why the Holocaust happened, drawing on recent scholarship and impressively incorporating moving and harrowing interviews with victims as well as chilling accounts by perpetrators, need look no further than Rees's brilliant book." -Professor Sir Ian Kershaw, author of To Hell and Back and Hitler, A Biography.
"This is by far the clearest book ever written about the Holocaust, and also the best at explaining its origins and grotesque mentality, as well as its chaotic development."-Antony Beevor, bestelling author of Stalingrad, Berlin, and The Second World War
"A masterpiece... Rees' best book yet" -Andrew Roberts, author of The Storm of War
About the Author
Laurence Rees is a former head of BBC TV History programs and creative director of BBC Television History. He is also the author of Auschwitz, which won History Book of the Year at the British Books Awards.
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This is not – it must be stressed – just another book about the Holocaust. This is a veritable feat of historical necromancy. For if you listen carefully the testimonies of the few “lucky” ones who survived you will also hear the tortured susurrus of the millions who did not. And fittingly, it is to these anguished spirits “who have seen the face of the Gorgon” (to use Primo Levis’ words) that Rees’ Holocaust pays the greatest tribute to.
Finally. Lest we forget. There is a very fine line between a civilized world and a genocidal one. It took Nazis only five years to go from some 3% percent electoral support to becoming Germany’s largest party. Moreover, as Rees points out, the logistics of murdering millions of innocent people were worked out not by some bloodthirsty mob but by highly educated party officials in calm and amiable atmosphere over lunch and cognac.
These facts alone should send shivers down our spines. There are monsters in all of us that must constantly be kept on a leash, and it is memory of what happens when this leash snaps that keeps the Homo sapiens project alive. And if we add to all this the destructive power nuclear weapons, recrudescence of nativism, and proliferation of “alternative facts” we might begin to realize the scope, profundity, and urgency in the "history" Laurence Rees has endowed us with.
Second, Rees also argues this is a "new history" because of his ability to tie together the first-hand commentary from those who witnessed the Holocaust, with speeches and diaries from the Nazis. This allows the reader to connect to those who lived through the Holocaust (or in the ghettos) and understand the decision-making process of men like Adolf Hitler, Heinrich Himmler, Adolf Eichmann, Reinhard Heydrich and many more. This helps to reinforce Rees's argument that the Holocaust was not a single moment, but a series of decisions that changed from year to year and country to country.
However, the BEST takeaway from this book is Rees's ability to show why so many Germans (and other countries) were Anti-Semitic throughout history (going back to the emergence of Christianity) and in particular following the First World War. From the first chapter, Rees tries to find a way to show why this was possible. Why did so many ordinary people stand by and allow this to happen? Why were such a large number of people Anti-Semitic in Germany (and other countries)? Rees returns back to this theme of why throughout the book and does an incredible job trying to answer that question.
Rees's book needs to be read if you trying to understand the system of concentration camps or why the Holocaust happens. Alongside, Nikolaus Wachsmann's KL: A History of the Nazi Concentration Camp, Rees's book is almost a must-read for a new perspective on the Holocaust.