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The Holocaust

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The Holocaust is a hard but important read. I won't say I 'enjoyed' this read, but rather that it was meaningful, and I felt myself becoming more cognizant of the world around me. Several angles presented by Dan Stone felt particularly poignant at this moment. Specifically, while the perpetrators of the Holocaust were /largely/ German, the Holocaust was not isolated to Germany. Stone also brings attention to how other European countries, governments, and even civilians were complicit in the genocide. When I requested this book, I wasn't expecting to have current affairs reflected in its pages, but some human atrocities seem to be, unfortunately, timeless. This is part of why I felt the approach of an "Unfinished History" was astute - I appreciated the focus that we are still living through the Holocaust's fallout and denial. I consider myself generally knowledgeable about World War II, but this book covered aspects of the Holocaust that I was unfamiliar with. It feels wrong to say this book was engaging, and it was by no means an easy read, but it was important and didn't feel dry. While it is impossible to be comprehensive, this book was incredibly thorough, and I would recommend it to anyone willing to learn more about this period of history.

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Rounded to 4.5 stars.

When it comes to any type of books about the Holocaust, whether it is fiction or nonfiction, history or memoir, fantasy or historical fiction, I have to be cautious about which ones I choose to read. It also depends on my state of mind and the matter being discussed in the book, since some of the books trigger my own intergenerational trauma as the daughter of a Holocaust survivor.

The summary of this book sounded immediately intriguing to me. This is the first time that I’ve seen a history book that explicitly views the Holocaust as a living trauma that society still hasn’t healed from. The Holocaust is a current wound that the Jewish community still feels the pain of, and Stone validates that in this book that explores the Holocaust from revolutionary angles. Most Ashkenazi Jewish families are only one or two generations removed from a survivor ... or an entire branch of the family that was wiped out.

To start with, Stone outright acknowledges that the Holocaust was, in fact, a German invention, and it wouldn’t have occurred if not for the impetus that Nazi Germany provided. But he also pays a decent amount of attention to the fact that the Holocaust was a continent-wide crime that would not have been possible without the collaboration of many governments and civilians across Europe.

When thinking of the Holocaust, two iconic images come to mind for me: the forbidding gates of Auschwitz and people in ill-fitting striped uniforms, emaciated to the point where I wonder how they can even stand. But the majority of the Holocaust occurred outside of the camps—in large-scale shootings that occurred face-to-face in the Soviet Union, such as Babi Yar; in pogroms in the towns where they lived; in enthusiastic participation by occupied governments, such as Vichy France; through a combination of starvation, disease, and overcrowding in the ghettoes they were forced into; and forced labor in hazardous condition that were guaranteed to cause death in a short period of time. Many Jews were killed in the town that they lived in, while their neighbors watched, or even worse, participated. Jews who went into hiding lived in fear of a former neighbor recognizing them and turning them in to the Germans. Some did it for a reward, some did it simply because they hated Jews. Antisemitism was at very high levels in much of Europe at the time.

This statement shouldn’t be a shocking one. Looking at the populations of the European countries at the time compared to the numbers of The Righteous Among the Nations, a listing of gentiles who risked their lives to help Jews during the Holocaust, it’s clear that the majority didn’t do anything to help their Jewish neighbors and former friends. The statement is revolutionary because it goes against the accepted narrative that the entire fault for the Holocaust lies with Germany, and that everyone in every other country was a victim, or better yet, a brave hero! In fact, in Poland, it is illegal to say that the country or anyone in it collaborated with the Nazis. However, they also passed a law that Jewish people are not entitled to get any property back, such as property or belongings that were stolen during the Holocaust.

I appreciated that the author mentioned the fact that the Holocaust wasn’t solely limited to Europe, a fact that is too often overlooked. Hitler’s reach infiltrated into North Africa, which was under French control at the time, and Jews that lived in that area were also in danger. I do wish that he would have devoted a little more attention to that, since the information in that area isn’t as widely known. Stone also discusses how the local population and government could have a mitigating effect on the outcome of the lives of the Jews in their country, with countries that had less antisemitic views tending to be more protective of “their” Jews.

Stone does a fantastic job with this book, providing a lot of information without making it feel dry and boring. At no point did I feel like I was reading a textbook, but there was so much that I highlighted and learned from this book. And that says a lot for someone who grew up surrounded by Holocaust history books and documentaries. It was interesting to see how Stone looked at things from all angles, and really tried his best to avoid interjecting his own opinion as best as possible. Instead, he puts forth facts and lets them speak for themselves. One thing that he keeps upfront at all times is the fact that the Nazi ideology was always based on Jew-hatred and an ultimate goal of genocide, up until the end, even when it made no sense to continue to devote resources to that goal at the expense of another, namely defense and survival. Overall, this is a book that I would absolutely recommend for anyone wanting to learn more about the Holocaust, or for people who already know about it and want to learn more about it.

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What a timely read for our culture today. The Holocaust by Dan Stone is filled with so many facts, details, stories, and historical essence within it's many pages, that you will learn not only about the details of the actual Holocaust, but relate it to our present day. The parallelism of current issues as compared to the atrocities of the Holocaust should be made known, so that history does not repeat itself. Not only the Germans, but many other countries led the effort to rid the earth of not only the Jews, but many other marginalized people groups. It just takes one upstander (as the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum defines) to make a difference in the world. Are we willing to ignore the devastation and destruction of the past, and watch it unfold in the present or the future? I hope not. Great read! Thank you Dan Stone, and to NetGalley and Harper Collins Publishers for the ARC copy of this amazing book! My opinions are my own.

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A vital exploration, this book offered a nuanced perspective on less-explored aspects of history, making it a valuable addition to discussions, especially within book clubs. My sincere thanks to Mariner Books for providing an early copy through the NetGalley program.

The narrative delved into the lesser-known involvement of various countries and communities during the Nazi regime, shedding light on both lesser-known victims and survivors of the Holocaust. The comprehensive coverage extended beyond Nazi Germany, exploring collaborative efforts from diverse corners of Europe.

The depiction of events and scenes was commendable, capturing the scale of brutality while considering factors like dictatorship personas and local influences. The book also provided a thoughtful analysis of commemoration efforts, offering insight into the lasting impact of historical events.

The writing style, though dense, presented a vivid picture of the historical landscape. While some passages were detailed and engaging, others left me wanting more depth and exploration. The book’s tendency to shift topics and viewpoints, while interesting for diverse perspectives, occasionally disrupted the immersive experience.

Overall, an enlightening read that encourages reflection on lesser-known historical facets. While the narrative’s structure could benefit from more consistency, it successfully sparks important conversations around events and tragedies often overlooked. This book is a recommended choice for readers seeking a broader understanding of historical complexities.

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An impressive new(ish) take on the Holocaust history. This book tells the history of the Holocaust from the beginnings of Nazi rumblings to the end of the last DP camp with a continental eye and focus on moving away from the typical narratives- mainly the German-centric view and the idea of industrial genocide. The wide lens allows you to place individual events into their historical and geographical context. Stone also goes into parts of the Holocaust that have not been covered by most other mainstream Holocaust histories, especially the Romanian deportations in the early years of the war.

While impressive, I will caveat- this is not a book for casual readers. The text is very dense and requires a large amount of focus to absorb. For someone interested in the era, this book will provide new information and thought avenues. For casual readers, especially those not well read in Holocaust histories, this will be frustrating.

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Dan Stone’s The Holocaust: An Unfinished History is a succinct but illustrative history of the Holocaust from its murky origins through to our authoritarian threatened present.

Moving chronologically through 8 chapters, Stone presents the progression of events, drawing from a plethora of primary sources. Beginning with the rise of antisemitism as a concept alongside other foundational Holocaust ideology and post World War I instability, to the increasing legislation against Jews in Germany through to forced migration and the implementation of the final solution.’ The final section looks at the history of Holocaust history globally.

A major through line of this work is that while the Holocaust was not an automated slaughter, except for a short portion of time. Much of the killing was through direct execution or starvation and disease. Nor was most of the death possible for the Nazis to carry out all on their own, it required collaborators across Europe. The latter is especially important, as it begs the for additional research to consider the development and continued racist thinking in other European nations.

Stone also points out other areas in need of deeper research such as those considered Jewish due to the racial laws, but had been Catholic for at least a generation. How many would know that some of the ghettos held churches for these individuals? And what roles did African colonial possessions play in the shaping of national ideologies and identities?

An unflinching history that should be read by Holocaust researchers new and old, and will serve as a foundational text for scholarship to come.

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An important read. Though a mixed bag of delivery for me. Great book for general discussion, particularly for book clubs, and for those seeking additional perspective on some lesser known events and tragedies that occurred.

I would like to thank Mariner Books for providing me with an advance readers copy via access to the galley for free through the NetGalley program.

Expected publication: January 23, 2024.

The Story
Went into the insightful details of other countries and people groups who participated in the Nazi regime, as well as lesser known targets and survivors of the Holocaust.

Covered collaborative efforts from multiple places across Europe, outside of Nazi Germany to a rather astounding number. Others, who participated in deportation of Jews. Some notably on a lesser scale, some more unique and fringe, and some notions people may be less familiar with.

Great at describing events and scenes. The scale of brutality was well-depicted, in that it recognized other factors, including the persona of dictatorship as well as local conditions and influence.

Presented a good analysis of commemoration efforts.

Dense. Some parts were presented very nicely, others I thought could be expounded upon. I wanted to stay in the passages that were summarized well and read more details about them.

Because… when I became immersed, it would then change direction. I’m always happy to read through a variety of opinions and oppositional viewpoints. I actually enjoy sorting through them, but this book bounced around topics and viewpoints a lot. Sort of overshadowed my overall experience with the book. Switched from differing angles of subject matter. Some of which were more or less closely related to the topic at hand.

The main premise centered around this idea of “Holocaust consciousness.” It deconstructed the idea in many different directions, at different steps.

But didn’t delineate willful ignorance, as opposed to limited access, low-literacy, propagandization, and uninformed. Just touched upon midway through the book. Then conflated it all together with the cover up of crimes and postwar sympathizers, which I thought could have been separated out and elaborated upon a little more. Especially when it came to conspiracy theories and their points of origination. Whether based on access, perception, not being well-informed, or pure hatred.

Refuting conspiracies are mentioned a few times. But only by the term. When mentioned, was in a more shallow way, without fully exploring them. On the other hand, didn’t explore alternative, supporting ideas including the desire and need for preserving culture, heritage, and the survival of people. Whether on a physical or metaphysical basis, notably as it relates to ethnography and record-keeping. Or recognition of visible industrial presence in the form of merely being a good steward, with credit to religious beliefs and duties, as longstanding importance and appreciation in certain spaces such as preservation of art, in academia, or in finances.

Though mentioned quite a few times, it didn’t take a dive deep into Holocaust denialism like I thought it might. Perhaps we’ll see in a subsequent book.

It was a touch-and-go effort in between passages that were very comprehensive and perceptive. Because although mentioned in the book, how it was not going to be a detailed psychoanalysis of people, I think the strength of sentiment ended up leaning more into an intellectualization of human behavior. So, as powerful as the stories were, the connections to each idea overhead, in the way it was outlined, began to fall flat on me.

Yet, some passages were very clear and I gleaned so much from them.

Others read a bit muddy. Some propositions made big, conclusive jumps. There were intriguing ideas that stopped short. Mentioned partisan political grievances that felt less relevant along with characterizations and labels of subpopulations within certain political leanings that were a much farther stretch than what the presenting context appeared to be. Especially when compared to other countries. Some of the political leanings, ideology, principles, definitions, and supporting parties were mixed up. I suppose I didn’t always see how certain ideas and figures, particularly how modernized ones, were put into the social and political boxes that they were. Would have helped if they were defined up front, since definitions, principles, and perceptions, have changed over time.

Whether by mention of events that took place on January 6th. Variations of COVID-19 pandemic response. Then onto climate change. Left me wondering what additional debate is there to be had and what stories in this book need to be told, other than personal grievances with “certain” people as outlined in the book? It felt like attempts to draw some direct parallels that just weren’t there. At least not without some additional context or presenting research into understanding why people do the things that they do

Might be an issue with the way it was organized in that it made claims, then countered them, but the first was not presented with enough support to carry the idea and concepts through, nor accept it for what it was claiming in the first place. At least not enough for me to make certain conclusions or duality of thought otherwise, if I hadn’t know the subject matter to the extent that I do. Ended up feeling like this see-saw motion of “It was this, but not that…” Then later in reverse fashion, refuting the same, then revisited in multiple parts much later in the book. I didn’t expect a comprehensive review of everything in history, of course, but the presentation of topics and leads into each subject, would have benefited from some sort of transition or alert to changing viewpoints, reorganized fashion, or additional summation of points.

I suppose overall, there were times it didn’t present the deeper dive into additional details of lesser known events as much as an attempt to provide an alternate “opinion piece” commentary to fit within a modernized-framework. Which to me didn’t always make sense.

Because I received an ARC, it’s possible that a few final rearrangements of sentence or structural reorganization might put it all together much more completely. So I won’t comment too much beyond this, nor mention direct quotes for this review at this time before cross-checking the published copy.

That said, this book still offers insightful talking points, especially given the mentions of lesser known or published events given their respective complexities.

The Writing
Integration of German language was excellent.

Abbreviations not defined at introduction. Though these might be corrected in the final copy-edit.

Some definitions of terms were mentioned a bit too late.

Didn’t sort out the finer details politically, socially, economically, nor Biblically, whether Biblical message or sect. I wouldn’t necessarily expect a detailed breakdown of jurisprudence, doctrine, or theology, and all the complexities, but the framing of certain topics needed more context at first mention.

Particularly because, when it comes to religion and presenting counterpoints, it’s important to take into account how the Bolsheviks were destroying churches and outlawing certain faiths, so there was a concern on behalf of people. Hence, a likely alliance based upon the promises that Hitler made, from a “Christian” appearing (or at least “appealing”), manifesto coupled with his anti-communism messaging, where communism is known for not allowing practices of religion. Yet, was also an unlikely alliance given what the Bible actually teaches, in stark contrast to the evil that Hitler and his regime actually stood for both in ideology and the atrocities carried out.

An example, Christian, means many things to many people and viewpoints from strongest support from a Biblical Christian worldview, or for example differing sects of Jews, such as Messianic Jew, as well as those in authority and power such as purpose and jurisdiction of the PLO, were not well-distinguished. Nor recognizing what is mixed economy and what was experimental. Would have been a nice, simple introductory mention as to how Nazi is short for the German, National Socialist German Workers’ party, in order to prepare and engage for readership starting context.

Though mere mention, it didn’t completely delineate differences amongst Jews as far as ethnicity and variations of religious practices. Nor collective nature of national identity. Instead tells about a broadly existing distinction, then after, often lumps them altogether. Which I think loses effect. Especially after having explained it a bit. Particularly around regional tensions and the designation of “Palestine” and “territorial” disputes, because it didn’t explore history back far enough. Didn’t mention Palestine as a name given by the Romans to separate it from Jewish heritage. None of this was mentioned or even remotely explored for consideration as a form of antisemitism.

Needed to delineate patriotism, nationalism, ethnocentrism, multiculturalism, xenophobia, and exceptionalism. Primarily within the context in which they were used in the book compared to historical outlook, and make a more well-rounded, stronger connection between ideas. Including the exploration of Jewish traditions and culture. Given that political partisanship is different around the world, whether socially, culturally, religiously, economically, or based upon matters of personal value and moralistic fronts. Would have benefited from a dedicated discussion as to what and how such proposals and/or ideas from within and outside the regime became internally shared culture and ultimately, enforcement of policy, including more about the modification of strategy and infrastructure for coordinated efforts.

As well as what constitutes as political leanings of “liberalism” and “radical-right” and “radical-left” with differences and commonalities among them, along with specific examples described in history for the topics being introduced. Came off as blaming certain problems on a modernized viewpoint of retroactively applied, particular leaning group, when there are spectrums, including opposing ones, to be considered. Which is fine if the book is focused on one over the other, but to consistently present differing viewpoints throughout, I expected an explanation and counter, so this particular aspect felt to be largely missing.

Slang terms, though mostly mentioned in the opening and conclusion, felt confusing. Both as introduction to new material that wasn’t discussed to length in the book nor their direct connections to the Holocaust. Such as “incel” which is more widely known to describe a persona of online subculture coupled with “manosphere.” Without mentioning origination out of men’s liberation and accompanying vulnerabilities of human behavior such as isolation, lack of identity and purpose, social status, insecurities, fatherless homes, and influential dynamics. No mention of supporting research as it stands unclear as to whether a direct causal-relationship exists or how the “chicken or the egg” type concept should be applied here. Or how such behavior applies to contra-political leanings, as previously mentioned.

On the same note, did not mention representation of female participants amongst the Third Reich. Particularly, because to make a strong point to hold men to certain standards as delineated by presumed behavior and slang used in the book, at least alluding to holding certain qualities, then leaving out the objectives and fulfillment of women under such regime, then why not also mention slang for what would then perhaps align with the visions and expectations of Hitler that could be described as modern-day returns to “tradwife?” How about “soccer mom?” I mention this as contrasting example because certain claims were strong in conveying opinion, yet lacked direction and direct counter-comparison, to where I was asking myself “What exactly is being said or not said here?”

Sometimes said the same thing twice. It was difficult for me to know if reiteration was for effect or oversight. Especially because preceding lines were seemingly contradictory, so it felt like loose ends that weren’t tidied up. Notably those paired with reoccurring grievances on behalf of the author’s interjection of opinion being declared without supporting research.

Perhaps there will be structural changes in final copy to sort out and improve flow. It’s hard for me to say.

Aside, all else was well-explained.

Appreciated the maps and statistics.

Took a more philosophical tone just past midway. Which was what I was mostly looking forward to.

I’m familiar with the author’s work, though this book was just a bit different for me as noted.

Not all ideas weren’t as fully formed as I thought they would be at their first mention. It was in part due to uneven application of supporting research where I thought more was going to be, then provided elaborative detail I was expecting, which was lovely, then randomly veering off. Then coming back to. Sometimes coupled with, sometimes replaced with, unsatisfying remarks consisting of less-related topics that were loosely tied together by summation of narrowed worldview opinion as mentioned.

The angle was a mix of incredibly informative details about the Holocaust, presented as an upset with the current state of U.S. domestic policy, political affairs, and politically-leaning people. Which changed the entire tone in how I thought it would be. I just didn’t know if all the concepts were clear to me when I finally came to the end, or if inclusion of certain subject matter was supposed to be an added interest or strength to this book. Because otherwise, it leaves me with what I perceive as an attempt at revisionist history. Which I don’t think that was the author’s intent. To where I don’t think that given the light (although those well-studied would know, based on history and human behavior), in recent circumstances taking place in Israel, tensions in academic institutions, as well as protests and riots, that those same notions and grievances would remain solid in singular stance as they were presented, nor true.

Apart from having to sort out and set aside technicalities and less compelling, unchallenged authorial political grievances found in the book as I read along, the other parts of the were outstanding, and the stories speak for themselves.

Great book for discussion.

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WOW. Where do I start? With the over 100 highlights and notations I made? Or the fact I know this book is going to be in heavy research source rotation? Dan Stone combines years of research from historians and survivors into one book. He reminds us that the Holocaust was not only an action by Germany but by many. Many countries were actively working to remove Jewish citizens before the Germans ever occupied them. For this to happen, it takes ordinary people to participate, from the police to the neighbor next door. Many notes I made were comparing comments I hear today about crime, the economy, and immigration.

Thank you, NetGalley and Mariner Books, for the opportunity to review this ARC.

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Dan Stone crafts a phenomenally researched and thought provoking study of The Holocaust that sheds light on corners of the event many may not know and show even more details on stories and events that are common surrounding the genocide.

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This is a good overview of the history of the Holocaust. Not sure there's a lot of new information for those who have studied the topic in-depth, but it is a good refresher and introduction to anyone new to the topic or wanting to refresh their memory on the details of the Holocaust.

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I moved this book up on my list based on current events. I have never been one to stand for hatred. This book touched every part of my soul. I learned so much from this book. And so could a lot of people. History can and will repeat itself. We have to be the change.

I voluntarily reviewed a copy of this book provided by NetGalley.

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What's an unfinished history? Perhaps one about which there's always more to say, because it's too immense and complex ever to be fully understood; it's too dreadful to be comprehended; and it's still happening.

Here Dan Stone takes up several themes.

1. The popular narrative of the Holocaust as efficiently industrialized mass slaughter is mistaken, he points out: until quite late in the war, the slaughter of Jews (and of course of many others) was accomplished mostly by starving people to death, forcing them into conditions under which infectious disease or simple cold would kill them, and forcing them to dig pits, then shooting them into those pits. "Almost half of the victims of the Holocaust died of starvation in ghettos or were shot in face-to-face killing actions."

2. The Holocaust is not to be understood as a purely German phenomenon: in most of the polities taken over by Nazi Germany, anti-Semitism was already rampant, and the project of national "purification" was taken up with enthusiasm.

The genocide of the Jews could not have been so thorough and so brutal without almost ubiquitous collaboration across Europe and beyond. Historians have long known this, but the true extent of this collaboration has remained covered up by successive governments across the continent.

Nor was the Holocaust only European. Jews from North Africa were also murdered, not to mention how Jews in flight from Nazism found themselves in many parts of Asia.

3. Stone argues that historiography often neglects what he calls "the Nazi imaginary":

not just racial science but the mysticism of race, in which Nazi thinkers set out a metaphysics and an anthropology of German superiority and proposed that the movement of history was driven by a clash between good and evil, represented by the Germans on the one side and the threatening race-destroyers, the Jews, on the other.

I might say, in other words, that attention should be drawn to Nazism as not only a politics but a religion.

Stone's prose is clear and vivid, which is to say that he re-horrifies his subject. Having read a fair amount of Holocaust history, I'm (awful to admit) inured to many of the most familiar images. Reading Stone's book brought back my first visit to Auschwitz, in the mid-1980s, and the feeling of the world giving way, brought on by the physical presence of the artifacts of genocide -- the hair, the shoes, the suitcases, the ovens. This in itself -- Stone's ability to bring his history out of the weight of platitude and cliche that usually surrounds it -- is an accomplishment. It almost goes without saying that he makes his theoretical case convincingly.

The concluding sections of The Holocaust: An Unfinished History are in some ways even more painful, though, because here Stone takes up the dismaying truth that knowledge of the Holocaust isn't proof against the rise of authoritarianism, nationalism, xenophobia, and of course anti-Semitism. In the present context of war in Israel/Palestine, his discussion of how both extremist Zionists and extremist anti-Zionists conflate "Jews" and "Israel" is particularly useful for anyone trying to find moral ground in a place saturated with the history and future of wrongdoing. I should say, perhaps, "in a world saturated with the history and future of wrongdoing."

Brilliant book, strongly recommended.

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"Come to me, you, the citizen of the free world... you whose existence and security are guaranteed by human decency and the law, and I will tell you how the modern criminals and vile murderers have crushed the decency of life and detached the laws of existence." This passage, written by Zalman Grandowski, within The Holocaust by Dan Stone, is a great summarization of what this important book entails. We learn through history and of stories of the murdered and survivors, much of what is not completely described in many Shoah books.

In addition, this work serves as a call to action for modern politics, as we have never been so close to implementing a Nazi-like regime as we are today, as we can see in the numerous threats to our local Jewish communities. As written by Kurt Rosenberg, in August 1933, "Day by day the assault on human rights and the assault on human dignities continues..." It's scary to think that he could be talking about the numerous hate crimes that appear on our evening news (or details as small as the shirts worn by violent protestors on 01/06/2021). Great book.

It is important to open our minds to the past, or it may become our present.

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A phenomenal, comprehensive, updated history of the Holocaust with essential background, system building, and culture aspects built into a living narrative. The author has a way with setting historical sources and talking points to lead the reader into a deeper understanding of the broader context of the Holocaust. I would suggest this as my new suggested starting book for this monumental topic.

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Every book about the Holocaust is becoming increasingly important as our political climate worsens, we begin to villufy each other, and there are calls from some on the right for political opponents to be rounded up or even executed. This book was a hard read, as it does not shy away from the awful, awful reality of the worst industrialized mass murder in the history of the world.

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Highly enjoyed reading this for how brutal the history of the whole event was. A difficult read but like any book of history from this time period it is still an important book to read for anyone that is interested in learning more about this terrible thing.

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