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on 12 March 2014
I would recommend this book to everybody, especially to the younger generation. It is understandable why it stirred up so much emotians, but is still the most honest and most intelligent analyse.
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on 5 January 2010
Hannah Arendt, present at the Adolf Eichmann trial, wrote this book, which is actually a report, dealing with "nothing but the extent to which the court in Jerusalem succeeded in fulfilling the demands of justice".

However, the book, is not just an analytical report on the history and proceedings of the trial, but it delves into the territories of psycology, political theory, jurisprudence, and in most parts philosophical, without being solely any one of these. It needs to be such a combination, in order to attempt explaining the complex nature of the defendant, the crime, justice, and the philosophical connotations concerned with humanity in general.

Arendt firstly gives us a background of the whole trial-the ghettos, the deportations, and the culmination of the 'Final Solution' concentration and death camps, some of the most malicious work carried out by the Einsatzgruppen. Eichmann, in his eagerness to advance in the SS, engineered some of these Nazi projects and was thus dubbed the 'architect' of the Holocaust. But the book doesn't dwell too long on the details of the Holocaust, only insofar as they relate to Eichmann or the trial.

Arendt tells us that in some cases Jewish Councils of Elders were involved in assisting the Nazis in rounding up the Jews, and we see the sad truth of the chaos and complexity, which engulfed the population at the time and caused a total moral collapse. Contradiction can be found elsewhere: Eichmann was involved in dealing with Jews and was obsessed by the idea of Zionism, and yet engineered part of the project which put millions to their deaths.

Eichmann himself was a complex character, Arendt discusses how his obsession with his promotion, his bragging about his 'achievements', and his mindless thinking in cliches led to his negligence of moral responsibility, and becoming part of the state which existed on criminal principles.

Arendt's own view is that committing crimes against the Jews, the disabled, and many other groups, of such a magnitude, can be explained in amorality as opposed to immorality, and that it "was sheer thoughtlessness...that predisposed him to become one of the greatest criminals of that period.".

Although Arendt does have her own opinions, her objective and balanced assessment of the trial is very informative, in that it gives us a good understanding of the situation. Arendt doesn't hold back from criticising numerous aspects of the trial, and suggests alternatives to some parts of the trial.

For instance, if the trial was not in Israel, what would it have been? Arguably Israel deserved to have the trial in their own country, because Eichmann as one of those responsible for the Jewish massacres and should therefore be administered justice from the Jews, just as the trials by those countries which had been occupied by the Nazis were permitted to occur in those countries. However, Arendt mentions the possibility of an international tribunal, because the crimes were, after all, crimes against humanity.

Many other issues are touched upon, and the book encapsulates so many profound ideas about the nature of crime, justice and humanity, that it scrutinises not just the proceedings of the trial, but more.
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on 17 March 2015
This is one of a number of small volumes published by Penguin under the theme, ‘Great Ideas’. This volume contains extracts from five articles published by Hannah Arendt in 1963 in ‘The New Yorker’. The articles at the time were titled, ‘A Report on the Banality of Evil’ and reviewed the progress of the trial of Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem. The phrase ‘Banality of Evil’ and accompanying viewpoint has since achieved wide circulation and attracted much debate.
I do not wish to debate the views expressed by Arendt but readers should know that her articles also discuss, whilst acknowledging the essential justice of the execution of Eichmann, whether or not in strictly legal terms he received a fair trial. Arendt thinks not. She also spends some time discussing whether or not influential Jews who negotiated and struck bargains with Eichmann, often exploiting poorer Jews in the process, carry any guilt themselves. Arendt also weighs the arguments for and against whether the trail should have been held in an international court rather than the local Israeli court in Jerusalem.
These are interesting and important articles although written in a somewhat rambling and not altogether satisfactory style. They are also quite dated in the light of the many atrocities that have since occurred. However, these small volumes do allow the reader to access important ideas in a very convenient format.
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on 28 August 2014
Personally, i find Arendt difficult to read, and so this was far more readable than the unabridged version, even for a non-academic reader

It would help for academic referencing if there were some notes about the pages and structure in relation to the original unabridged version. Flicking through pages and speed reading to find a point referenced by another writer (from the unabridged) is a bit of a chore.

Regarding the controversy about her character analysis of Eichmann, i can't help feel that people have misunderstood her comments. They want to see a pantomime villain in the way the Hitler has been characterised, with no saving grace except that he loved his dog. Instead she prevents a more complex character whose actions and level of cognitive intelligence are often at odds with each other - something that people often seem to understand as her letting him off the leash to hell somewhat.

Regarding her comments on the Judenrat; having previously seen interview footage where she discussed what she wrote, i am still at a loss to see how people have misunderstood that part of her writing. Taken as it is written, it is a very clear indictment of the lack or pro-active resistant on behalf of the Jewish Councils.
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on 2 November 2014
This is a condensed version go Hannah Arendt's book' Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil". It is not clear from the advertising that this is so and I was extremely irritated to discover it when the book(let) arrived. However I found the juxtaposition of the title and the title of the book series (Eichmann and the Holocaust / Penguin Great ideas) hilarious in a graveyard humor-way.
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on 22 September 2015
A very interesting and in depth book about one of the most murderous men to have ever been born, EICHMANN. He engineered the Holocaust by sending cattle trucks filled with many thousands of innocent men, women and children to the death camps and work camps, were very few survived. When captured, his testimony revealed a very cold calculating man, who showed no remorse whatsoever for the murder of millions. This book should be read by every generation to ensure that men like eichmann never ever get chance to create another Holocaust, a book never to put down!!
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on 27 September 2015
Remarkable piece of knowledge from one of the greatest political theorists of our time.
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on 11 January 2015
A horrible but necessary account of "the banality of eveil".
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on 25 February 2015
Absolutely brilliant little book. Thoroughly recommended.
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