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Hunting Evil
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39 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on 9 July 2010
I'd never read anything by Guy Walters before, but, given his credentials as a historian/historical novelist, I anticipated a book with the readability of, say, Anthony Beevor. Far from it: this book is totally lacking in cohesion and fluency. There are several principal strands: the post-war evasion of justice of a small number of Nazis (Eichmann, Mengele, Barbie, Stangl, Pavelic are the main protagonists); the bureaucratic chaos immediately after the war and how this affected the hunt for Nazi war criminals; later attempts to capture these criminals; and collaborators with the escapees (principally the Vatican and Peronist Argentina). Major sub-plots are the demystification of the Odessa myth and the debunking of Simon Wiesenthal. The problem is that the author is incapable of organizing this material into a coherent narrative, and he spends the entire book hopping from one strand to another, often indulging in an over-attention to detail and excessive quotation which is at times tedious. In terms of genre, the author doesn't seem to have decided between dry academic treatise and entertaining historical narrative. In terms of objective/focus, it seems unclear whether the author's aim is to recount the story of the Nazis and their friends, or that of their pursuers and their problems, or simply give Simon Wiesenthal a thorough kicking. It is probably the last-mentioned area in which Walters is most effective.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 8 August 2011
A good book to read for anyone who takes an interest in the Holocaust/post WW2 era. However it felt like that at the end of every paragraph, the author had to mention the shortfalls of nazi-hunter, Simon Wiesenthal. If he could mention dislike for Wiesenthal a lot less, i would have found the book more enjoyable.I understand why he kept mentioning his name, but its far too much!
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 14 February 2013
Somewhere there's an excellent, dispassionate history of the hunt for nazi war criminals - sadly it's not here. I've seldom read a reputable history book with such an obvious agenda or with quite so much of what Wikipedia calls 'weasel words' - the text is littered with supposition, unsupported suggestion, unecessary implication and disingenuous statements designed to further the author's personal agenda.

The agenda of denegrating Simon Weisenthal at every opportunity weighs the book down, as the author drags the famous Israeli into any discussion, regardless of whether it's appropriate or not, and then puts the blackest possible spin on every event in the man's life. Even where Weisenthal demonstrably succeeded or was an aid to other Nazi hunters, Walters seems incapable of giving credit - prefering instead to play up the achievements of almost everyone else.

The sentence that sums up this book best? 'It is perhaps too cynical to speculate theat Weisenthal only contacted the Brazlians about [Nazi in hiding] Stangl in December 1966 to pull off a spectacular publicity stunt [for his memoirs published four weeks later'. Yes, it is indeed cynical so - since not a shread of evidence is provided by the author to back up the suggestion - why make the auggestion at all?

This book was praised to the heavens by the author's former colleagues as a jounalist, but it's hard to believe that any of them actually read it before coming to that conclusion.
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78 of 93 people found the following review helpful
Guy Walters has written a masterpiece on a subject which had already been explored in the past, namely:the fate of those Nazi criminals who have fled from justice after the collapse of the Third Reich.What makes this book different from the others is the fact that what the authors sets the record straight about certain myths which were created along the years in respect to these fugitives.
Firstly, Mr.Walters destroys a sacred myth by demonstrating that the famous Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal was a blatant liar and fabricated much of his own past and his so-called success in hunting down 1200 Nazi criminals.In reality,the number was barely one percent of this figure.
It seems that Wiesenthal was an egomaniac and a big one and he always wanted to take credit for things he was not responsible for.
Then he examines another myth:that of the existence of the organization called 'ODESSA', whose purpose was to assist ex-Nazis everywhere.This term was nothing but an umbrella term for a number of such organizations-many of which are described in the book for the first time.
Mr. Walters has travelled the escape routes themselves, has talked to Nazi hunters and Nazi criminals in Rome and Vienna, has consulted many written and oral sources in many countries and the result is a fatastic book you will not be able to put down easily.
He describes famous cases of well-known criminals and their fate:Franz Stangl,Mengele,Eichmann,Ante Pavelic, who was the head of the Croatian puppet state;Klaus Barbie and former SD officer Heinz Felfe and the fate of Herbert Cukurs,the hangman of Riga, who was responsible for the murder of 30000 men,women and children.This last case is less known and reads like a thriller.
He chronicles and scrutinizes the role the Catholic Church has played in assisting those who escaped via the ratlines and managed to reach South American countries,where they thrived because they were helped by their comrades and the corrupt regimes and dictators there.
In addition,there are chapters describing (and deploring)how the Allies failed to pursue and catch these criminals, as well as their cynicism when they did not hesitate to employ them in their respective inteligence services as soldiers in the Cold War.
A fifth of the book includes extensive documentation.It also has many photos-some taken by the author himself.
This book should serve as a warning and as a subtext whose message is that those horrendous and bestial crimes could repeat themselves unless we-the common people-and politicians are careful and moral.
In sum:this book is brilliant !
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 30 August 2010
I didn't finish this book yet but it seems the author has an personal "vete" against Simon Wiesenthal, it takes too long too much about the errors and mistakes of Wiesenthal and it doesn't improve the easy read of the book.
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on 18 February 2015
As an account of how criminal nazis escaped justice after WW2 it is packed with names of individuals, their ranks, organisations, countries, amounts of money and descriptions of who and how complicit organisations, churches, bureaucrats, money grabbers, incompetent governments, the diplomatic machine and sympathisers helped them. The descriptions of the atrocities are sickening and horrifying and it is to Guy Walters credit that he manages to maintain a distance between fact and conjecture. It is hard to read how even as early as 1943 organisations (underground railways sic) Nazis had already started to organize an exit strategy should they lose. What is staggering, given the mounds of human bodies stacked in piles in the concentration camps, mass graves, accounts of atrocities - the Final Solution - is what appears to be massive denial and a less than rigorous and organised response which amounts to denial and even complicity.

Well known nazi hunters like Simon Wiesenthal are examined and found less than honest in their accounts. The role of the Catholic Church and Peron's Argentina - the destination of many/most nazi war criminals is made crystal clear. Did the Pope know and help?

This is not a book to be read in one go and it is certainly not to savoured. I sometimes got defeated by all the detail and found myself constantly referring back to the notes and a map of Europe and South America. In his intention not to be speculative I sometimes found myself thinking what is he not telling us? Though even more would be already too much.

Not a book for the faint hearted and holocaust deniers but essential reading for anyone interested in how we keep tabs on, find and deal with an uprising of fascist, racist, fanatical zealots and mass murderers.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 4 July 2010
Having read widely through the Holocaust/Nazism area, Hunting Evil was a natural progression from David Ceserani's Eichmann, or Lawrence Rees's Auschwitz, whose command of the pen keeps a non-historian hooked from the first chapter.

Unfortunately, Hunting Evil doesn't read as expected. It's structure is confusing; where one may expect a chapter on each war criminal, stories seem to be confusingly weaved into each other and angry tirades against Simon Wiesenthal.

If Walters wouldn't spend so much time focussing on where other historians/sources failed, and concentrate on telling the reader the "dramatic true story of Nazi war criminals who escaped and the hunt to bring them to justice", this would be a fantastic book.

Disappointingly, trawling through wikipedia provides for a more exciting read.
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on 27 May 2013
The main strand of this book by Guy Walters seems to the breakdown of the character of Simon Wiesenthal, and the fact that he appeared to be one of the greatest frauds that existed, and no better than the characters he was pursuing. How true this portrait that is depicted I do not know, but if the purpose of the book was to vilify Simon Wiesenthal why not give it another title.
The material covered in the book is interesting, though sometimes rather convoluted, and difficult to follow. There is a lot of detail in this 600 odd page book, and it is not for the faint-hearted. I bought the book for more detail about what happened to the Nazi criminals, and how some of them were caught and brought to justice or not as the case often seems to be. I am not confident that I can express the views that most governments were complicit in not following up Nazi sightings, based purely on Guy Walters findings. I feel somehow that he has too many axes to grind I may be wrong.
I found the book heavy going, though it did provide some insights to some of the famous criminals- Menegle, Bormann, The Butcher of Lyon, and perhaps the most famous the capture and ultimate execution of Adolf Eichmann
An interesting read.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 24 June 2012
it is well researched, but not very well. the book takes super-long detours, is also often unfocused. great subject, great research but the book is undistilled. though if you get through the first 150 pages or so - it gets better.
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on 1 April 2014
I read Walters book about the Great Escape which avoids (just about) some of the issues with this book. Walters is quite one for the revisionist (and it would appear) justified perspectives on this period shortly after WWII. However, he struggles to proportion the detail and the story in this volume. Too often we are left with yet another name and yet another set of facts, without a clear sense of where it fits into the overall story. Yes, this is complex history, but researchers need to find a way to communicate it at a popular or semi-popular level. Although echoes of the same problems can be detected in the Great Escape, the tightness of the story means the reader is pushed forward through the detail by the storytelling.
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