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Dr Barry Clayton (United Kingdom)
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My Name is Lucy Barton
My Name is Lucy Barton
by Elizabeth Strout
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.09

3.0 out of 5 stars It is not terribly convincing. Reality suffers from the author's desire to ..., 6 Feb. 2016
This review is from: My Name is Lucy Barton (Hardcover)
This is a novel about a writer writing a novel. It is typical of its genre. It is not terribly convincing. Reality suffers from the author's desire to be artful. Strout tells the story of a woman's day-to-day life. It reveals the woman's inner thoughts and memories, many of which are painful. A long spell in hospital gives her the time to do this. She creates a new life as a mother and writer . She has a habit of falling in love with a variety of men. At bottom, she is desperately lonely. Lucy hints at a dark secret her father brought back from the Second World War.

Strout is fixated on the subject of American provincial life. This book therefore follows a similar path as her book, Olive Kitteridge which won her the Pulitzer prize. She is clearly obsessed with troubled mothers in rural towns. She is in danger of only having one story to tell. The story here is a simple one. It is the mid 1980's and Lucy is in hospital, it turns out unexpectedly to be for nine weeks because an operation to remove her appendix led to complications. Her mother, to whom she had not spoken for several years, visits herin hospital at the request and expense of her husband. Her mum was a seamstress, her dad worked on farm machinery. Her childhood in Illinois was poor and impoverished. Her school friends disliked her and her sister. They were accused of being dirty by their teacher. In brief, they ' were oddities'. The family lived in a garage until she was eleven.

Lucy works hard at school and wins a scholarship to a Chicago college. She has an affair with a professor, before meeting her husband, William, the son of a German POW. Strangely, her father couldn't look her husband in the eye. Her parents didr attend the wedding or acknowledge ttheir daughter Christina.

We are told that Lucy became envious of two men suffering from AIDS who walked by her house because they, unlike her, were not lonely. Lucy you see is suffering from intense loneliness. ' Lonely was the first flavour I tasted in my life...'. In the hospital mum and her talk about people they know and her siblings. Lucy it seems is not a bit like them. There is a great deal of reminiscing. They discuss failed marriages and even Elvis who mum describes as a piece of trash. Her mother refuses to say she loves her and leaves when Lucy is told she needs more surgery. It turns out she doesn't.

We learn that Lucy's marriage is collapsing . She finds it hard to relate the story of her marriage. After leaving hospital she meets her mother only once more when she is dying in hospital. This is nine years later. Her first book is published , is very well reviewed, and both her parents die. Lucy remarries and moves to Chicago.

An uneven novel that fails to grip. The story related is hardly new.


The Persuaders: The hidden industry that wants to change your mind
The Persuaders: The hidden industry that wants to change your mind
by James Garvey
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.09

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We Can Be Persuaded?, 5 Feb. 2016
The author quotes George Bernard Shaw's apt comment that when we want to believe something, we become blind to all the negative arguments against it. How true. Politicians live by this rule as do Marxists.

The author examines whether or not arguments, no matter how well presented, ever persuade someone to change their mind. In other words, do rational, good reasons have any effect on us? Are we wasting our time trying to persuade others? Have you ever been persuaded to change your opinions? Garvey asks what is the real role of argument? Groucho Marx sang that no matter how good your ' proposition.....I'm against it'. He added that even if you change it, he was against it. Many of us have encountered this attitude. Try changing someone's views on, say, fracking, the EU or climate change. Facts and evidence are simply ignored.

What then, if anything, does change our minds? Do other persuasive tactics work ? Garvey now examines the dark arts that work better than rational argument. Advertisers and political spin doctors are discussed with examples. His chapter entitled. The Lost Art of Argument, is particularly interesting.

This is a well written and fascinating book that will appeal to those who are not psychologists or philosophers. It will evoke many memories of time wasted trying to convince others they are wrong.

Would recommend those interested in the matter of persuasion to read Vance Packard's classic, The Hidden Persuaders'. Today, there's even more of them.


The Idealist: Aaron Swartz and the Rise of Free Culture on the Internet
The Idealist: Aaron Swartz and the Rise of Free Culture on the Internet
by Justin Peters
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £18.99

5.0 out of 5 stars The Internet Is An Information Smorgasbord. Why Is It Not Free?, 3 Feb. 2016
This short book is an expansion of an article written by Peters for the magazine Slate and published on 7 February, 2013. It is not a comprehensive account of Aaron Swartz or Internet activism or American copyright law. It is a descriptive introduction to the story of the free culture movement in America, using Swartz's life as a 'lens on the rise of information sharing in the digital age'.

Peters discusses first the history of copyright and free culture by way of focusing on significant individuals and their personal stories. He then examines the writings of Swartz, plus interviews and other documents. Two fascinating chapters deal with thousands of pages of redacted US documents which the author acquired through the Freedom of Information Act. The main voice is Swartz's, I.e.it is in the first-person narrative form.

In 2011 Swartz had been caught in a basement at MIT using its computer network to download millions of scholarly articles from the database JSTOR. He was arrested and indicted on felony computer-crime charges. The maximum penalty was 95 years plus over $3 million in fines.. 26 year-old Swartz refused to accept any form of plea bargaining which included time in prison. In 2001 the Sunday Times had described the very young man as 'teenager in a. Million'. By 19 he was regarded as a Whiz-kid. Reddit, the Internet start-up, which he had helped to build was sold for around $15 million. In 2011 he ws a well known programmer, political activist and research affiliate at Harvard. Why was he siphoning millions of JSTOR documents in an MIT basement?

It was believed by the prosecutors that he intended to post all the archives on the Internet for free because he believed in free culture. This movement believed the contents of the Internet should be made available to all, free of charge. At the time, copyright for new works lasted until 70 years after the author's death. Back in 1790 it had been only 14 years. Swartz wanted the time reduced significantly or better still abolished altogether. Swartz even argued that restricting public access was immoral. It is made clear by Peters that Swartz never revealed his motives.

The trial date was set for 1 April, 2013. Meanwhile, Swartz carried on with his various interests which included saving the world by making it more effective. He read widely. Books on management, systems and organisations intrigued him. He said that the techniques of lean production were ' the greatest human art form'. He seemed relaxed, according to his girl friend, even contemplating marriage. He had changed his defence team and was, he said, confident of winning in court.

On the evening of 11 January, 2013 Aaron was found dead in his studio apartment. He had committed suicide by hanging. This book tries to find answers to the many questions which arose from this act. Aaron's death led many to question the rules governing the access to information on the Internet. Swartz's beliefs have been nurtured and proclaimed in many books, articles and films.

As Peters says, Swartz wanted to save the world' but the world was never going to let him save himself.

This is a very unusual subject for a book but Peters succeeds in painting a picture of a very intelligent young man who was obsessed with providing the public with free access to everything on the Internet. He was perhaps immature but sincere. We are given a true if sad story of a man with a mission.


To Kill a Mockingbird: (Harperperennial Modern Classics) by Harper Lee | Chapter Compilation
To Kill a Mockingbird: (Harperperennial Modern Classics) by Harper Lee | Chapter Compilation
Price: £2.10

3.0 out of 5 stars Useful Primer But Little Else., 3 Feb. 2016
This is a satisfactory summary of the novel. There are numerous rivals. It's weakness is the lack of analysis. There is very little on: themes, style, allegories, symbolism or ethics. Imagery hardly gets a mention.

Hence, this is fine for the average student but it will not help you to get a top grade.


Jihadi John: The Making of a Terrorist
Jihadi John: The Making of a Terrorist
by Robert Verkaik
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars There Is Little Mystery About Jihadi John And His Like., 3 Feb. 2016
The book tells the story of the capture of James Foley, an American journalist, by Islamic State, a murderous gang of thugs, in 2014. In charge of an oil installation near to where Foley and other 23 prisoners were incarcerated were three British jihadis. Foley spent a year as a prisoner before his killing. He endured savage beatings and near starvation.

Foley was treated worse than the other prisoners because he was an American, and Americans were hated for, among other things, their involvement in Iraq. A price was put on his head that was deliberately so unrealistic as to ensure the US government would not pay. It was $ 132 million. On 19 August, 2014, IS released a video showing Foley being beheaded.in a desert location.. It was an act of savagery that shocked the world.

Shortly afterwards attention switched to tracing Foley's executioner who spoke with an English accent. He became known as Jihadi John. It turned out to be Mohammed Emwazi whom the author had met in December 2010. Then he came over as a victim as a result, he claimed, of unfair, unwarranted surveillance by the security services. Neither he nor his other Muslim friends had a criminal record. They seemed , like thousands of Muslims, to be having problems with wrestling with their plural values. On November 13, 2015 the Pentagon said he had been killed with a drone in Raqqa, Syria. Verkaik examines why did a quiet teenager from West London become a merciless butcher.

This is not the first book to examine how male and females can become radicalized, that is indoctrinated. The author reveals no new theories or explanations because, frankly, the security services have known for some time why this occurs. Propaganda and brainwashing allied with a feeling of alienation can and does work wonders. Research into the brainwashing of those taken prisoner in the Korean War has revealed just how susceptible bumans are to clever and persistent propaganda. A far more difficult problem is how do you deradicalise someone. It is fiendishly hard as studies of young people who joined cults in America have amply demonstrated. This is not covered in this account.

An interesting book but it is not one that sheds any new light on a growing problem. The young Muslim who refuses to integrate, who is taught to hate democratic values, who believes the west is the source of all Islam's ills, and who is brainwashed into believing that a Caliphate is the only way to attain a world ruled by the Koran and Sharia law , is easy prey. The ubiquitous social media gives the evil-doers a very handy tool.

A major weakness of the book is the failure to examine or understand the dilemmas facing the security services. How do you judge that these brainwashed constitute a danger? How do you stop radicalisation in a democracy without impairing it's values? It is easy to criticise when you haver never had to do it. Solutions are much harder. What we must never do is dignify a murderous group by giving it titles they crave. He claims, on flimsy evidence, that the majority of young Muslims want to engage. I wish it were true. In any case this sort of liberal -speak is of no help to the security services. It is the sort of generalised waffle used by Corbyn and Co.

The way to combat these butchers is to recruit more intelligence officers, to infiltrate their ranks and bring them to justice. If this causes some loss of freedom so be it.

A far more scholarly and detailed analysis than this is required to tackle the issue of indoctrination and radicalisation. These are some of the key questions not asked let alone answered: what variety of factors led to JJ's indoctrination; what role did Mosques play in this; what use was made of social media; how innocent was he prior to his overt radicalisation, and what role did friends and relatives play?

This descriptive account also tells us nothing about a very worrying feature of mass Muslim migration into Europe. How many have been deliberately planted by Isis to cause mayhem and murder at a later date? We could be witnessing a modern Trojan Horse.


And Yet: Essays
And Yet: Essays
by Christopher Hitchens
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.60

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars He Tells It As It Is Or Was., 1 Feb. 2016
This review is from: And Yet: Essays (Hardcover)
This is the second book of Hitchens to be published after his death. It is a collection of essays, articles and book reviews. Like most of its kind it is a mixed bag of delight and dud. The best of the former include his criticism of the ghastly Kennedy clan and his all too accurate attack on Hillary Clinton who hopefully will be defeated when full details of her misuse of emails reach the public domain. This plus her mountain of lies over the years, lies repeated in her books, plus her awful husband.make her thoroughly unsuitable to be President.

Hitchens has been called a tyranny hating liberal and this collection shows that description to be accurate. His comments about President Jefferson are apt. Hitchens could also be funny as his description of his own body demonstrates. He was a prolific writer who raised the polemical essat to a new height.

As he says, one should always combine maximum impatience with the maximum of scepticism. He has done this here particularly in his pieces on Guevara, Rushdie, Clinton and Dickens. His advice that we ought to learn from history rather than invoking it or sloganising should be taken to heart by all politicians.

I particularly liked his piece on George Orwell. It demonstrates how opinions of people are too often the result of hidden hatred and bias. I would also recommend 'On Becoming American', and ' The Turkey Has Landed'.

Sadly, writers like Hitchens are rare. He rivals Orwell in his command of English. He is greatly missed.


The Confidence Game: Why We Fall for It . . . Every Time
The Confidence Game: Why We Fall for It . . . Every Time
by Maria Konnikova
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars You Have Been Warned., 1 Feb. 2016
Voltaire is reputed to have said that religion began when the first scoundrel met the first fool. The remark reveals an important truth about humans, the need to believe in something. This enables the con man or woman to flourish and flourish they do . As the author says we do most o the work for them for we want to believe what they tell us whether it is they are the best joiner in town , the best painter , the best lover or the best doctor.

The genius of con men lies in knowing what we need and desire. This book tells the story at the outset of the serial imposter Demara, alias Dr Cyr, a monk, a prison warden, an instructor. You name it he was it. Konnikova says that the con is an exercise in soft skills. Trust, sympathy and persuasion. The clever and successful imposter makes us complicit in our downfall. We give, he doesn't have to steal. How else can one explain a woman's actions in giving a man she has only known a week all her life savings?

We seem to have a bottomless capacity for credulity and gullibility. We crave certainty, and hate ambiguity. The con man is only to happy to provide that certainty. He is a top financial advisor with three degrees. He knows you won't ask to see them. We are susceptible to compelling stories, particularly if they involve young children. Some psychologists argue this is why many of us love a magic show for it is a kind of con. The magician and the imposter both manipulate our beliefs.

The confidence game has a long history dating back to at least the 15th century. Cons come in all guises. Many come with fanciful names. Cons apparently thrive in times of change when new things are happening. They love wars and revolutions. The Internet is very welcome to the imposter who delights in hitting your cell phone or in-box. We have made life much much easier for them. Technology breeds crime.

Consumer fraud has risen markedly since 2000. Online scams have doubled in the US. Millions have been lost to cons. In 2015, almost 60% of UK homes received fraudulent calls, seemingly from banks, the police or a finance company. £24 million was lost to scammers. Many scams of course are not reported because we are too embarrassed.

This fascinating book is an examination of the psychology of the con. It explores the techniques used to trap us, to manipulate our beliefs. We all believe we are due a good break. We are not so stupid to fall for a scam but we do. Others may but not me, I am immune. Intelligence is poor armour against a clever con merchant. The author poses the key question, how come? Why are we taken in? Read the book and discover why we are all vulnerable.

One thing is certain. The con man or woman is not going away.


The Bitter Taste of Victory: In the Ruins of the Reich
The Bitter Taste of Victory: In the Ruins of the Reich
Price: £14.29

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How the Intelligentsia Tried to Resurrect Germany after 1945., 31 Jan. 2016
The war in Europe officially ended on May 8, 1945. Millions of prisoners in camps of all kinds were released. Many exhibited what became known as the Liberation Complex, that is they were not very grateful. Their behaviour caused massive problems. The desire for vengeance allied with physical destruction made life hell. Belsen caused shock and horror despite the fact it was not an extermination camp. The smell was a mix of excrement, decaying flesh and a post- mortem room. The misery of the DP camps soon caused understandable dismay.

Chaos and humiliation was rife through Germany. 1945 proved to be the hinge year of the twentieth century, of its horrors, hopes, illusions and roots of troubles to come. Noel Coward was of the opinion that several humanitarians were ' too tolerant of our enemies'. Yet, in the period 1945-7 there was an endeavour not to exact revenge , but to reeducate, civilise, change hearts and minds, and and turn Germany into a democracy. The three D's dominated policy, demililitarisation, denazification and democratisation. The reforming zeal echoed that of the ancient Romans. The polcy was seen by many as ' an inescapable duty'. Hunger for culture was real, if exaggerated. Brecht's political Threepenny opera was performed soon after surrender. We are not talking here, of course, of the soviet sector.

This book by Lara Feigel tells the story of Nazi Germany after its defeat in 1945. She describes, as have many others, the ruins of German cities as an apocalypse. Thousands of refugees , most starving, and craters filled the landscape. One other historian has described the scene as Zero hour. The author teaches English at Kings College, London. Her account differs from that by historians in that it paints Germany's plight through the eyes of artists, intellectuals and journalists, like the photographer Lee Miller. What emerges is a novel take on a country destroyed physically and morally. She tells us about the period in Germany between 1945-9 through the eyes of 20 writers, film-makers, painters, actors and musicians who went to Germany from America and Britain to try and make sense of postwar Europe. To a degree, they, along with many others, all helped to shape reconstruction policy. It is worth noting that in 1945 it was estimated that the Allies would occupy Germany for between ten to fifty years. At the heart of reconstruction was a firm belief that the arts would be vital in getting Germans to embrace democracy, particularly American democracy. After all, UNESCO founded in November 1945 was intent on putting the ideas of peace ' in the minds of men'. As the author points out, many of the visiting artists found the Allied aims absurd. If , as some said, German art and literature had not stopped the Germans from supporting Hitler and his vile policies-Buchenwald had been only a short walk from Goethe's home-how was theirs going to do it? So dispirited did many of the twenty become that they experienced a period of personal reconstruction. They created a genre of art that explored guilt and atonment. Gellhorn's book, Point of No Return, is an example along with Wilder's film, A Foreign Affair,. By 1948/9 a genre developed that became k own as Trummerliteratur, rubble literature/film. Mann's novel, Doctor Faustus, is a brilliant example.

One fifth of German cities had been badly damaged by bombing. All major utilities were affected. Most were not functioning. Some 7.5 million foreigners were attempting to return home. Millions of Germans had no homes. Very soon almost 13 million Germans expelled from Hungary, Yugoslavia, Romania, Czechoe and Poland would soon compound the problem. Hemingway and Gellhorn arrived in April, 1945 . They found street maps useless and the city of Cologne like a giant morgue. No one admitted to being a Nazi. Hypocrisy was rife. Once the camps revealed their ghastly secrets, the hypocrisy increased. Interestingly, Marlene Dietrich said she had little sympathy for her former compatriots. The film maker Billy Wilder went go Berlin . After watching footage of extermination camps he said he hoped the Germans ' would burn in hell'.

People like Gellhorn and Miller visited one or more of the extermination camps and recoiled at the horrors they saw. Orwell asked himself how could the innocent looking Germans he saw in the fields have connived at the killing fields of the SS. Those visiting members of the intelligentsia, many sponsored by their goverment, initially believed they could improve Germany and the world by rebuilding the former's art and culture. It showed an astonishing ignorance of what was needed, particularly given growing fears over soviet intentions.

Some like Spender firmly believed the Allies had a moral duty to foster Germany's rebirth. There was a great deal of arrogance in what he and dozens of others claimed they could achieve. Several, like the poet Lehmann displayed ignorance of the scale of German atrocities. They were to get a big shock. Auden showed , wearing slippers, a shocking lack of concern for the starving and dying children by swigging a bottle of fine wine every night while in Germany. Those who attended the trials found, as did Arendt, the criminals in the dock 'banal' .

By 1946/7 denazification was ending as the Soviet threat loomed large. Germans concentrated on filling their stomachs in preference to improving their minds. The onset of the Cold War led to a temporary resurgence of the arts as an ideological weapon. The author gives one or two nice examples.

This is well-written and demonstrates careful research. Unfortunately, very few of the army of the high-minded visitors come out of her story very well. Much of their professed concern was gross self-indulgence. There were to be fair exceptions. These writers and actors recoiled at what they saw in Belsen and Dachau. Sybil Thorndike said she would never get over the experience. These more worldly artists realised that Germany required far more than a dose of Shakespeare to cure her ills. I can imagine what the scores of ex Nazis and SS thought as they resumed their professions as doctors, lawyers, teachers and dentists.

Read this compelling account of how the Allies tried to bring order, redemption and democracy to a defeated Germany wracked by hunger, destruction and guilt.


The Romanovs: 1613-1918
The Romanovs: 1613-1918
by Simon Sebag Montefiore
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £17.00

19 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Eccentric and Sex Obsessed System That Worked But Not For The Peasants., 29 Jan. 2016
Between 1613 and 1917 twenty Romanov's ruled the vast stretches of Russia. Their reign began with Ivan the Terrible and ended in the time of the mad monk Rasputin. On the whole, they ruled well building empires. Russia grew from around 142 square km per day from 1613, that is some 20,000 square miles a year. By 1900, they ruled approximately one sixth of the world's surface.

The author focuses on family, romance, adultery, and children. Personality is a key theme. The corruption of power is another major theme since absolutism is rife. Montefiore argues that the Romanovs have become ' the very definition not only of dynasty and magnificence but also of despotism......'.

Tsar derives from Caesar, the Russian for emperor is the Latin imperator. The author paints a picture of sadism, sexual excess, ambition and lurid glamour. Poison and torture loom large. Sons kill fathers, wives murder husbands and holy men get shot. Details of torture are sickening. Sexual excesses abound. Yet this same nation produced Pushkin, Tolstoy and Tchaikovsky. Depravity sat alongside exquisite culture. Sex addicts populated the Romanovs. Dwarf throwing was very popular. Venality was rampant.

Six of the last 12 tsars were murdered. In 1918, 18 Romanovs were killed. The narrative examines each regime and each succession. It demonstrates that rarely was a chalice so rich and so poisonous. The Romanovs survived by balancing clans and personalities. They had to ensure the army and the nobility remained loyal. The peasants, 90% of the people, regarded the tsars as Little Fathers. In reality, the Romans were a pretty nasty, corrupt lot. Their names were bizarre. Their nicknames far worse for example, Old Fur Coat, and Pork and Onions. One servant was beaten, doused in vodka and set alight. Dwarfs obviously delighted and fascinated them. They were everywhere including the bedroom. Fights were arranged between dwarfs and cripples. Dwarfs had a bad time for over 200 years. The author also relates examples of exotic and randy correspondence between members of the Romanov family. He tells of unbridled lust and depravity.

After 1917, marxist despots ruled Russia. Lenin and Stalin showed they could outdo anything the Romanovs had done, apart from the dwarfs. Putin has called Gorbchev a great villain because he' threw power on the floor'. Montefiore says Russia was a medieval land until the middle of the nineteenth century. Economic and social progress was painfully slow. In the main, this was the result of incompetent tsars. The crucial problem of the serfs was never solved even after so-called emancipation. Alexander 1 said it would take a genius to rule the country. He added thar the country had become ' a playground for the insane'. The author says that when Nicholas 11 reigned from 1894 the monarchy became a ' wedding cake of exquisitely carved icing, with no filling'. Today in Russia is another autocrat intent on restoring Russia's place in the sun. Greed, intrigue, violence and corruption still pervade it's vast territory, and perhaps always will.

This is an absorbing account by an author clearly in love with his subject. The.details of the murder of the tsar Nicholas and his family in 1918 are sickening. The research is impressive, the prose delightful. It is an excellent addition to Simon Sebag Montefiore's previous writings on Stalin and Catherine the Great.

A beautifully written work. Highly recommended.


Final Solution: The Fate of the Jews 1933-1949
Final Solution: The Fate of the Jews 1933-1949
by David Cesarani
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.40

29 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Truly Outstanding Account Of German Savagery., 28 Jan. 2016
The Holocaust was a major defining episode of the twentieth century. We need however to remember that lethal anti-semiticism had penetrated German society long before Hitler came to power. It should also be remembered that Jews were murdered by Germans in places like the Ukraine, and by ordinary soldiers. For exmple, in September 1941 German soldiers shot Jews 40 at a time while the locals watched.

The horror of the extermination camps, the brutality and indifference to suffering has been told many, many times since 1945. What new can any author now offer?. The answer is contained in this outstanding account of what has been called the Holocaust. Cesarani has produced a book of scintillating analysis that is written with verve and admirable clarity. In so doing he challenges several orthodox views, the very name Holocaust and destroys a number of long standing myths. The book will be the definitive account for years to come.

Chapters cover the period 1933, 1934-8, the war period pre and post Barbarossa, the final solution and the final phase from 1944-5. There is a useful glossary, a bibliography, maps, illustrations and notes. The illustrations are very impressive.

David Cesarani pays tribute to previous pioneering accounts of the Holocaust, the many meetings and conferences he has attended and his doctoral students. He held a research chair at Royal Holloway which has an outstanding MA in Holocaust Studies. It is fitting that this book was published on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Over many decades the author had met many former refugees from Nazi Germany and survivors of the 'final solution'. Sadly, David Cesarani died while this book was in preparation. Professor Richard J. Evans, a leading authority on German history, and Andros Bereznay helped to complete the rest and maps for publication. I am sure David would have been pleased with the result.

As Cesarani says, there is a very wide gap between popular understanding of the Holocaust and current scholarship on the subject. Novels, films and poor teaching at school tends to widen the gap. Misconceptions and outdated information abound. Inconvenient facts are excluded. He points out, for example, that visits to Auschwitz -Birkenau where some 960,000 Jews were killed, tends to mask the 860,000 murdered in Treblinka, and the thousands murdered in the fields of Belarus and Ukraine. We are also reminded of the thousands shot over pits and gassed in vans long before the extermination camps. Thousands also died from starvation and disease. Over two million Jews were murdered by shootings, or died from starvation or disease..

He also reveals the suffering of Jews in, for example. Polish ghettos and Lodz. More Jews were killed in Warsaw than were deported from France to be killed in the East. He also reminds us of the difficulty of relying on the testimonies of survivors. Read why. Many may be upset at the evidence of voluntary infanticide, and sexual exploitation amongst the Jews. Rape and even cannibalism took place. David points out that the Holocaust did not end in 1945. The suffering and death did not end. In 1947 the British were holding more Jews behind barbed wire than the Germans had been in 1937. Many Jews were murdered by Poles when they returned to claim their properties. It is not a pretty story but it is one that has long been deliberately hidden from the public.

There has long been debate about how the Holocaust came about. The author and others tackled this in an ealier book edited by Cesarani. He argues it came about in stages: boycotts, exclusion by law and then pogroms. Then, the author argues, without in any way lessening the criminal policy and culpability of the Nazi regime, it was the economy and war that shaped the Nazi policy leading to extermination that has been called the Holocaust or Shoah in Israel. Anti-semiticism was rife before 1938/9 but it was the Sudeten crisis and the invasion of the Soviet Union that forged the policy of extermination. As Kershaw has written ' the road to Auschwitz was built on hate but paved with indifference'. Hitler's desire for space in the East to feed his country and house them meant that the people there had to be exterminated. Goebel's speech of 1941set the tone. He accused the Jews of planning to kill Christians, and described them as vermin, the root of all evil. From then on the 'ordinary ' Germans had no doubt who the real enemy was. It was domestic and a cancer.

This book reveals details of horrors in the camps that even those of us familiar with the events will find almost past belief. In some camps you lasted only three hours after arrival before being murdered. The treatment of pregnant women was vile. The savagery of female guards was particularly repugnant and horrifying. Human beings were treated worse than cattle.

For those remaining misguided individuals who 'deny' what happened, particularly the involvement of ordinary Germans, I recommend a study of the behaviour of the men of Reserve Police Battalion 101. This comprised some 500 German men from working and lower middlle class backgrounds who came from Hamburg. Being too.old to join the army they joined the Order Police. By 1940 there were 101 police battalions.On July13, 1942 these middle-aged men , armed with rifles and extra ammunition, went to the village of Jozefow in Poland from their barracks which they had been sent to only three weeks before.

In the village were 1,800 Jews. The men capable of work in slave camps were separated. The rest, women, children, babies and the elderly were murdered. Many similar atrocities by Police battalions were committed in Russia. They included burning Jews of all ages in churches. It is worth noting that on a number of occasions the police were told they could opt out of the murderous activities without penalty. Very few did.

In mid March 1942 some 80 per cent of all Holocaust victims were still alive. By February 1943, only twenty percent were living. During the previous eleven months there had been an orgy of mass murder the centre of gravity of which was in Poland. A blitzkrieg had been used against the Jews.

The unbelievable cruelty and savagery was connived at or supported by ordinary Germans who were only too pleased to see Jews and 'misfits' blamed for all Germany's ills, military and economic. In addition, the ability to plunder and loot Jewish homes and businesses without fear of being stopped let alone punished was a great incentive. I will never forget being told in 1998 in Munich by an old ex Nazi that all Jews were vermin. Surely you agree, I was asked.The scale of theft staggered the Allies. The role of Swiss banks in this regard is reprehensible and decidedly murky. Legal claims are still not settled.

Read this magnificent and harrowing book . It deserves the highest praise. We are all in the author's debt and will be for years ahead. It is a brilliant syhthesis and interpretation of a monstrous crime, one that must never be forgotten.


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