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Eichmann in Jerusalem (Penguin Classics) Paperback – 7 Dec 2006

4.5 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (7 Dec. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143039881
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143039884
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.5 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 11,783 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Hannnah Arendt (1906-1975) was for many years University Professor of Political Philosophy in the Graduate Faculty of the New School for Social Research and a Visiting Fellow of the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago. She is also the author of Eichmann in Jerusalem, On Revolution, and Between Past and Future (all available from Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics).


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Top Customer Reviews

By marty mcfly VINE VOICE on 26 Sept. 2005
Format: Paperback
Arendt is at pains to explain that this book was just a trial report and she is further at pains to dispel the idea of controversy that seems to surround it. There are certain points continually broached by the author and they are that 1) the trial was a foregone conclusion and the manner in which it was conducted never addressed the principal charges 2) Eichmann was at no time much more than a glorified clerk (nowhere more evident than in his role at the wanasee conference) 3) Eichmann never killed anyone 4) the trial raised questions of humanity, not just of Eichmann or Germany or the SS or the Holocaust 5) was Israel the apropriate place for this trial?

What seems to have created the controversy was mostly the study of Eichmann that Arendt made (point 2). Eichmann continually stressed that he was not a 'Jew-hater', in fact he reports repeatedly of his contact with and respect for the Zionists. In fact, Eichmann also stresses that he never killed anyone nor was he ever capable of it.

So what is Arendt saying? well, she is actually just making a report, not really a judgement. She never suggests for a moment that Eichmann is not guilty of some definition of crimes against humanity - he shipped hundreds of thousands of Jews to their deaths. But what of the machine of government? Actually, she is not telling us that we might have been Eichmann under the same circumstances and she is not justifying his behaviour thus. There is no contention that his defence of 'i followed orders' is in anyway suitable to explain his crimes. But, Eichmann is no monster and that's not what people want to hear about the so-called 'architect of the Final Solution'.
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Comment 28 of 28 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
This book is a key contribution to the debate about the nature of evil and a must-read for anyone making a serious study of responses to the holocaust.
Arendt writes fluidly and you can polish the text off at quite a pace. It is not directly a work of philosophy, even in the sense that the rest of Arendt's work is, but a commentary on the key players in Eichmann's trial and the pertinent historical events, and mostly an analysis of the psychology of Eichmann. It is this psychological study which provokes the most important moral questions, as Eichmann is comes across as a rather stupid, ambitious individual who is sometimes comical in his failure but too complex to be a monster - in fact, too normal for comfort. This is the challenge posed by "the banality of evil": given the right environment and social factors, might there be an Eichmann in all of us?
Be aware that Arendt has her own social and political axes to grind,and this comes through in her commentary on the trial.
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Arendt's perceptive take on the Adolf Eichmann trial in Jerusalem is not the definitive study of the Holocaust, but it is an essential text for anyone studying or interested in this period of history. In seeking to blur the distinction insisted upon by the Israeli court between good and evil you can see why Arendt's perspective was, and still is, so controversial: the portrayal of Eichmann as a dull and at times ludicrous administrator turns the finger of blame back towards his accusers, with the questions of complicity in the actions of the Nazi state astounding and thought-provoking. Moreover, Arendt tackles even the most contentious issues with an engaging style and a wry humour which highlights the absurdity of so many facets of human nature.

Given the importance of this book, it is a shame that Penguin seem to have entrusted the transcription of the Kindle version to a 16 year-old exchange student on a work-experience placement. The typos are frequent, glaring, at times jarring, and on several occasions involve the omission of whole lines of text or quotation marks, altering the meanings of sentences. You can tell no one has bothered to check the text through because Hitler's title is written as "Fiirher" more or less throughout. I would therefore advise any prospective customers to definitely buy this book, but to get it in paperback unless these issues are resolved.
1 Comment 12 of 12 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
'Eichmann in Jerusalem' is the perfect antidote to the all-too-common cartoonish story of the Holocaust being told today, the one in which all the leading Nazi's were demons with glowing eyes, horns and cloven hooves. Arendt makes clear - reinforcing the 'message' of another of her excellent books 'The Origins of Totalitarianism' - that leading Nazis, of whom Eichmann was one, were disturbingly 'normal', and that the potential for totalitarianism can lurk beneath the surface of almost any nation, and that people can participate in the most monstrous evil without it being merely a product of their own individual psychology (a much-needed kick in the teeth for our therapy-obsessed times) or of their personal prejudices and hates.

The overwhelming conclusion I drew from this book was that threats to our liberty (or even our lives) will not necessarily arrive goosestepping in a black shirt mouthing racial propaganda, but will instead insinuate themselves into our system in ways, and from a direction, we won't expect - and most disturbingly of all, that we might initially welcome those threats. I strongly recommend 'The Origins of Totalitarianism' as well; there are profound insights on every page, and I was amazed (given how long ago it was written) how prophetic it was.
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