on 27 June 2009
I have just finished reading this book and I have a mixed feeling about it. First of all I must say I expected more from it. I expected a description and analysis of the Antonescu regime during the Second War World and possibly an enlighting explanation of its relationship with Hitler's Germany. It is not.
What should you expect from this book? A rather balanced examination of Antonescu's rise to power and his removal and trial along with a very long and, from my point of view, rather disappointing narrative on the treatment of jews by the Marshall's dictatorial regime. Hardly any mention of the fortunes of war or its relationship with Nazi Germany. Only when it has an influence on the attitude towards the jews (and the gypsies) in Romania and the occupied Soviet territories. It is not only that the book is tilted to a side of the story (the terrible fate of jews and gypsies) that, though being extremely important, is only a part of the character's government activities (what about the front, the Romanian policy in occupied territories, its relationaship with its neighbours (Hungary!) and enemies,etc?) that are being almost wholly neglected. Besides, its narrative on the holocaust is in a Dominique Lapierre's style: plenty of detail on whether poor cobbler X was killed beside the bug or starved to death in the plains but a loss of perspective of the general picture and hardly any analysis of the atrocities. More a collection of massacres by the Romanian authorities than a historical analysis of it.
The second and most annoying thing about this book is the apparent aim of the author to JUDGE Antonescu instead of describing his actions. Sometimes it makes you feel as if the main goal of the book is to decide whather he was a tragical heroe or a movie villain...
If you are looking for a good description of Antonescu's rise to power along with the Iron Guard and his removal in 1944 and you don't mind plodding through nearly a hundred pages of Holocaust miseries or missing Romania's war fortunes, foreign policy, etc, this book is for you. Otherwise, look somewhere else (and be extremely careful to avoid Antonescu propaganda books out there...).