Posted by: Matt | July 2, 2007

Making the List

This edition is coming a day late because of an adventure I had over the past weekend. I’m grateful to still be alive, but more on that later…

Today I’ve got a two volume set in non-fiction. The blog at has been a good source of book ideas for me and these two come from the same place. I went through a period a few years ago in which I read several books on World War II. I still have an interest in that subject which is why I have added the following to the TBR list.

  • Nazi Germany and the Jews: The Years of Persecution, 1933-1939 by Saul Friedlander – “Giving considerable emphasis to a wealth of new archival findings, Saul Friedlander restores the voices of Jews who, after the 1933 Nazi accession to power, were engulfed in an increasingly horrifying reality. We hear from the persecutors themselves: the leaders of the Nazi party, the members of the Protestant and Catholic hierarchies, the university elites, and the heads of the business community. Most telling of all, perhaps, are the testimonies of ordinary German citizens, who in the main acquiesced to increasing waves of dismissals, segregation, humiliation, impoverishment, expulsion, and violence.”
  • Nazi Germany and the Jews: The Years of Extermination, 1939-1945 by Saul Friedlander – “In the second volume of his essential history of Nazi Germany and the Jews, one of the great historians of the Holocaust provides a rich, vivid depiction of Jewish life from France to Ukraine, Greece to Norway, in its most tragic period, drawing especially on hundreds of diaries written by Jews during their ordeal, depicting a world collapsing on its inhabitants, along with the thousands of humiliating persecutions that Jews suffered on their way to extermination. Friedländer also provides insightful discussions of the many interpretive controversies that still surround the history of Nazi Germany. He has been party to many of the debates, and he remains attuned to the most recent historical research. Friedländer knows the bureaucratic workings of the Third Reich as well as anyone, but refuses to see in that alone the explanation for the Holocaust. Instead, he focuses largely on cultural and ideological factors. He considers other factors, such as “the crisis of liberalism,” but these were not the essential motives for the Holocaust, which, Friedländer says, was driven by sheer hatred of Jews, by “a redemptive anti-Semitism” espoused by Hitler, a belief that Germans could thrive only through the utter destruction of Jews.”

The author, Saul Friedlander, grew up in Nazi occupied France and so writes with some authority on the subject.  He is now a professor of History at UCLA.

I’ve read several books on Hitler, the Nazis and their atrocities, now it’s time for something from the point of view of the Jews.  These books are likely not for the faint of heart.  But I think it’s important to remember what happened, and to try to understand how something like this could have happened.  How do we come to the point where others become something less than human?



  1. Talk about leaving us with a cliffhanger, Matt. Now I can’t wait to hear about your “adventure.”

    I haven’t read much about Hitler’s atrocities other than a few novels set in that era. I find that the subject almost always depresses me to the point that I don’t finish the book. It’s just so hard for me to comprehend how people can treat other human beings that way…even to the present day.

  2. “If this is a man” by Primo Levi, is a very horrible account of how the Jews were treated in Auschwitz during the WWII.

    Terribly depressing read, but a must if one wants to have a small insight in the horrors that people must have suffered.

  3. Sounds like fascinating reading – although yes, quite dark. You’ll have to tell us if Friedman’s writing is compelling for this type of non-fiction. I’m also very interested in understanding how genocide becomes somehow ‘acceptable’ to the human psyche…horrible stuff.

  4. The books sound good but I was too distracted by your opening comment about your adventure. Please tell about it and end the suspense!

  5. I guess that was quite the cliffhanger I left you with, now I’m starting to feel like I may have set expectations too high…

    Sam Houston – Some of the non-fiction I’ve read has had graphic descriptions of what the Nazis did. I will never understand the mindset needed to do those things.

    Kim – I’ve never heard of that book, I will have to look it up. Thanks for stopping by!

    verbivore – It will be interesting to see how his writing is, often times this kind of non-fiction can be fairly dry. I probably won’t be getting to these books anytime soon, but I will likely buy them at some point to add to my small WWII collection.

    Stefanie – I will post about it soon, need to figure out which pictures to include. Hope it doesn’t disappoint!

  6. Well, let us know about your adventure–and glad you’re okay. My father is interested in books about WWII, and maybe he’ll add these to his list–I’ll mention them to him. Thanks!

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