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The Holocaust began in a dark but accessible place, in Hitler's mind, with the thought that the elimination of Jews would restore balance to the planet and allow Germans to win the resources they desperately needed. Such a worldview could be realized only if Germany destroyed other states, so Hitler's aim was a colonial war in Europe itself. In the zones of statelessness, almost all Jews died. A few people, the righteous few, aided them, without support from institutions. Much of the new research in this book is devoted to understanding these extraordinary individuals. The almost insurmountable difficulties they faced only confirm the dangers of state destruction and ecological panic. These men and women should be emulated, but in similar circumstances few of us would do so.
By overlooking the lessons of the Holocaust, Snyder concludes, we have misunderstood modernity and endangered the future. The early 21st century is coming to resemble the early twentieth, as growing preoccupations with food and water accompany ideological challenges to global order. Our world is closer to Hitler's than we like to admit, and saving it requires us to see the Holocaust as it was - and ourselves as we are. Groundbreaking, authoritative, and utterly absorbing, Black Earth reveals a Holocaust that is not only history but warning.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Amazon customer on 11-20-15
Tough book but worth it!
What did you like best about this story?
completely new perspective
What about Mark Bramhall’s performance did you like?
Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
Wow. Just…wow. I completely misunderstood what this book was going to be about. I first heard the author as a participant in a discussion of some of the current ISIL/Syria/Iraq issues on the radio. The references to the book intrigued me, so I picked it up. I thought it was going to be using facts and details behind the Holocaust as a parallel to better understand todays fun.
Wrong. Absototalutely freaking wrong. Black Earth is a deep dive into the political maneuverings that went on in Europe leading up to (and including, although not in as much detail) World War II, specifically dealing with the Holocaust. Yup, fun reading.
Any additional comments?
This was unlike any reading I’ve discovered on the topic. First of all, I actually almost understand (yeah, that sounds freaky) where some of the delusional mindsets of Hitler came from. And why it resonated so successfully with so many people who could still (I can only assume) look themselves in the mirror each day.
Also the details behind the concepts of states and statelessness. In the case of countries that were conquered (but the “state” survived), the numbers of people killed, though tragic by any rational measure, were relatively low. But in countries where the “state” was completely destroyed (Poland for all purposes as a state ceased to exist for much of the war) almost all Jews were put to death. The author makes an interesting case that the removal of the “state” removes some of the restrictions of our base instincts. The number of people put to death within Germany itself, as an example, is significantly lower than Poland. And the number of non-Germans directly involved with the killing cannot be ignored (though I think we try).
We also tend to think of Nazis (and Hitler) as absolutely planned to a T, with his “Final Solution” in place from day one. On this topic the author points out many times where the plans of Hitler were of smaller “solutions” or conquests, but was driven in different directions by fate and miscalculation.
We all love to claim we would never do these things. We’d never turn neighbors into the police so we can claim their apartments. We’d never trick people into gathering so they can be shot. We’d never turn children away from our door when they were hiding from certain death.
But if the government was gone…completely gone? And food was scarce? And what passes for security can arrest, convict and imprison you (or worse) at the drop of a hat?
But the fact is, given the right circumstances, I suspect most of us would.
Many of us Americans (and sadly I have to include myself) love to talk a good talk. We’d never…we wouldn’t let…there’s no way we could…
But if we honestly look at how we rise to the occasion when there’s little or no risk? I dunno.
The book is split into really 4 sections. The rise of the Nazi party (and the concepts that rose with), the early years of the war, some anecdotal stories of courage, and some parallels for today. By far and away the strength of the book lies in the first two parts, although the rest was useful as well. The final section was a bit on the opinionated side, but not overly so.
All told, a difficult, disturbing and brilliant read.
12 of 12 people found this review helpful
By Looky Lou on 10-01-15
A masterfully written book.
With the Holocaust slowly passing from living memory into the mists of the past, this book is essential reading for anyone interested in understanding one of the most cataclysmic and prolonged bursts of violence in human history.
Regarding the performance of the narrator -- it was pitch perfect. The reading was clear and straightforward -- letting the subject matter speak for itself. It's challenging when there are so many names, places, and phrases that may be hard to pronounce for a native English-speaker but Mark Bramhall invariably makes the correct (or at least non-jarring) choice every time.
Worth listening to a second time.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful