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Oskar Schindler: The Untold Account of His Life, Wartime Activities, and the True Story Behind the List Hardcover – 6 Oct 2004

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 800 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; 1st Edition edition (6 Oct. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 081333375X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813333755
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16.4 x 4.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 873,318 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

David M. Crowe is a professor of history at Elon University, where he teaches German and Russian history. He has served as President of the Association for the Study of Nationalities at Columbia University and is a member of the Education Committee of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. He currently serves on the Editorial Board of Nationalities Papers. He is the author of A History of the Gypsies of Eastern Europe and Russia.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By John on 12 April 2005
Format: Hardcover
An interesting book and one which appears to be a labour of love for the author. The book is an fascinating read about a very contradictory man. The author also comments on and corrects certain aspects of the Spielberg film as well.
However, there are certain aspects of the book which could have been done better, ie proof reading, using better writing style and more adjectives, fact checking, spelling, removing certain "presentational styles" (ie constantly putting costs, place names, etc in brackets which breaks up the narrative) and more photographs.
A series of maps would have been a great help and rather than constantly putting the different spellings in brackets, why not have another appendix?
On the whole, a good read let down by some very basic mistakes hence only 4 stars
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By PAUL MCCUE on 27 Jan. 2007
Format: Hardcover
A somewhat scholarly and academic work (unsurprisingly, as the author is an academic), yet an excellent book nevertheless with much cross referencing of the facts against Thomas Keneally's semi-ficticious "Schindler's Ark" and the film "Schindler's List". I thought the latter two works also excellent, but Crowe's book successfully identifies where the novelist and film director take an alternative path. A "must" for anyone wanting to follow in Oskar's trail in Poland and the Czech Republic.
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By J. Page on 12 Jan. 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
had not realised how massive a book this was and it will take me a month of sundays, at least, to wade through every page.
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By Babs on 13 Jan. 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Good book about Schindlers life. I have read a few books by the people he saved so it was interesting to read about him.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 8 reviews
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
The Real Schindler's List 24 Nov. 2004
By C. Hutton - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The historical Oskar Schindler is much more complex than the charming rogue portrayed in the "Schindler's List" of film and novel. In this definative new biography, Mr. Crowe has done impressive research in uncovering new archives and interviews to depict the Nazi spy/businessman who became a "righteous gentile" in saving Jews from certain death during World War II. Mr. Crowe is a Holocaust historian who has documented other Nazi atrocities in his 1996 work, "A History of the Gypies in Eastern Europe and Russia."

The reader will be surprised to learn that Oskar Schindler had nothing to do with the creation of the life-giving lists that gave the title to the film by Steven Spielberg and the book by Thomas Keneally. Schnidler was in prison briefly when the lists were created by other persons. This does not diminished the other heroic acts that Schindler and his wife performed to save the Jews they came in contact with during the final two years of the World War II. He spent his war-profiteering fortune on bribes and supplies for those Jews in his care.

It is sad that in the the madness of the Holocaust Oskar Schindler found the only success of his life. After the war, it was all downhill for the alcoholic womanizer who died in poverty in 1974. The book is very well-written and will interest those readers who desire to know what was the reality behind Schindler's List.
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
A Moving True Story 5 Dec. 2004
By Nic - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Amazing, fascinating, horrifying and sad is the story of Oscar Schindler, Emilie and others, as written in David M Crowe's well researched and easily readable biography. Oscar evolved into a deeply good good man, with great skill, courage and sharp wit, who flaws were also in many ways his strong points it seems to me in achieving what he did, and was an immensely admirable person. And it is sad that brilliant nice people don't 'appear' to get what they deserve, as loss of health and tragic failures after the war seemed in many ways just as challenging in Oscar's life story.
There are a lot of horrible events and people described in this book, but also acts of humanity, kindness and braveness by many in the Oscar Schindler story, those three traits in particular summing up Oscar. There are more than a few instances of the Nazi hypocracies and madness, being used against them as they are outwitted in this story. An amazing and moving story.
It's true that there's a lot of detail in this book and it can be hard going to keep up with it all, but i found the subject matter of Schindler enough to more than motivate me to keep turning the pages. One of the best sections of the book was Oscar's meeting in budapest i think it was, with aid organisation representatives for jews in occupied europe. Here you get a chance to discover what Oscar's thoughts were in relation to the war, holocaust and where he was at in action amongst it all. There is a lot of other detail in the book, not so involving, but the holocaust was a huge bureaucratic operation and apart from that, there weren't too many people with the liberty to document or concentrate on individual coming and goings, in the new cut throat order of the glorious third reich. So a lot of the superfluous information not directly relating to Oscars' daily life, is both understandably from a research point of view and also is relevant because this is precisely the world that Oscar was operating in.
I think the author has done a great job on bringing us a biography on a man whos life and good deeds, never really got the reward they deserved(which is why life is as it is!) and because Oscar remained relatively obscure, much of his life details just wern't important enough for anyone to record for prosperities sake. Mr Crowe is more critical of Oscar than i feel he should be, for example, he disaproves when Oscar tell's the afore mentioned agents in Budapest that they must admit, in the intellectual realm the jew is really a dangerous competitor for the nazis. Is that such a bad and unaccurate thing to say, in light of the situation?
I feel Schindler's own intelligence and strength of character is not given enough credit in the book; due to the fact that he was out to exploit the situation for personal monetary gain intially(i.e. he was a opportunistic business man cashing in on the war and occupation), and because he lost his health and failed after the war finished, it is easy to put his success down to war time craziness and the skill of the men running his factories. He was not a moral man in the conventional sense, he liked women, drinking and living in the moment but i think it was his free-spiritedness, that when given the power, compelled him to use it in a humanitarian way rather than worry about his own security, which is the accepted way to do things. Ultimately Oscar Schindler lived from his heart, he understood this, u get this from the book, and why the book is a great effort in bringing us his life story, to me the author's judgement on Oscar is not as good as it should be, due in part i suppose to the clinical unromantic objectivity that is expected of a researcher.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
hard going but still interesting 2 Oct. 2007
By Michael Lewyn - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This book is an incredibly detailed biography of Oskar Schindler. Because it is so detailed, sometimes it is not easy to read. On the other hand, Crowe certainly presents a far more complete picture of Schindler than does Thomas Kenneally's novel.

Crowe's discussion of Schindler's prewar career is especially interesting. The novel Schindler's List seemed (at least to me) to imply that Schindler was a successful businessman before World War II.

But Crowe suggests that Schindler was essentially a drunken ne'er-do-well until about 1935, when Schindler began to get a steady income by spying for the German Abwehr (military intelligence). Schindler helped recruit German agents in order to aid Germany's conquest of Czechoslovakia, and was so heavily involved with Abwehr that the Czech government imprisoned him for spying in 1938 and investigated him for war crimes after World War II. When war broke out, Schindler moved east with the German army, believing that there was easy money to be made.

Paradoxically, Schindler's involvement with Abwehr made his wartime heroics possible- not just by placing him in Eastern Europe, but also because his Abwehr connections helped him avoid being harassed by the Gestapo. In addition, the Abwehr bureaucracy was generally hostile to the SS (which had its own spies and was thus a bureaucratic rival), so perhaps Schindler's Abwehr associations helped to turn him against Nazism.

This book also tries to answer the question: why did Schindler work so hard to protect his Jewish workers? Crowe concludes that by the end of the war, Schindler was probably motivated primarily by moral considerations. But at the beginning of the war, Schindler had economic motives for protecting Jews as well: because Jews were essentially slaves, they were far cheaper to employ than Christian Poles. While Schindler paid Poles up to $10 per hour, he could rent Jews for less than $2 a day from the SS. Schindler's involvement with Jews was a gradual process:as late as 1942, his workforce was overwhelmingly Christian, and he had only a few Jewish employees. But even in the war's early days, one of Schindler's Jewish employees, Abraham Bankier, was indispensable because of his skills in making black market profits for Schindler. But an employer solely interested in money would have abandoned his Jewish employees once the SS began to insist on liquidating them.
15 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Great research BUT... 9 May 2005
By SusieQ - Published on
Format: Hardcover
What horrible writing. Never (well almost never) have I read a biography with such a facinating subject, with such in-depth research, more boringly presented.

The writing is terrible. The subject, a man of many layers living in arguably the most morally testing time of the 20th century, just lays there on the page, fact after fact, and never comes alive. Getting through this book was some chore, and that's from someone who really WANTED to read this book. I have to agree with the professional reviewer who used the word, "maddening" to describe the writing here. Really, the author's editor should be taken off the job, but the author is certainly no great shakes as a writer and deserves his lumps also. Not recommended, except to those who really want to plow through a pile of chaff to get to the wheat.
Amazing Book! 6 Sept. 2013
By Banner - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is great for anyone who really enjoys this part of history and who loves the person Oskar Schindler became. This was a difficult time in history and this book highlights the man who tried to save as many forsaken as he could.
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