The following is an excerpt from one of my summer reads:
When I saw this book, three months ago, it was part of the KBA Bluegrass Award list for 2016.The following is an excerpt from one of my summer reads:
When I saw this book, three months ago, it was part of the KBA Bluegrass Award list for 2016. -A little digging and you will find that this is both odd and inspiring because the list is usually confined to fiction.- This book clearly falls into the burgeoning realm of creative non-fiction. Based on the hunt and capture of Adolf Eichmann, Neal Bascomb weaves together the events of his other book, Hunting Eichmann: How a Band of Survivors and a Young Spy Agency Chased Down the World's Most Notorious Nazi, into a narrative that is easily approachable for everyone. The story is broken into three key parts: the initial period of hiding, convincing others of Eichmann's existence, and the capture/extradition for trial in Israel.
(view spoiler)[ I must admit the post-WW2 period is fascinating to me. Many wanted to cling to the ideals of fascism even though its oppressive regimes failed to build a 1000 year Reich. Fear of a rising tide of Sovietism in Europe and the economic decline made for an interesting time in Europe. However, his book doesn't look at that aspect. Instead, Bascomb concentrates on the difficulties of an anti-Semitic post-war world that wanted to move on. Following the events in Cologne, Israeli leadership was worried about what could happen in Europe. A blatant resurgence of Nazi officials in West German politics and neo-Nazi groups in Argentina, fueled this fear and a capture of Eichmann was an answer.
We see little of Eichmann's time in Nazi Germany before his exile except for his time in Budapest shortly before a retreat and this seemingly jarring moment after seeing the killing squads in Poland, "despite his feelings toward Jews, Eichmann was unnerved by what he saw. But the fear of losing his job, and the power that went with it, outweighed his misgivings, and he accepted the need to rid Europe of the Jews through extermination." By 1960 his feelings about the war and joys of Nazism both isolated him in the ex-Pats community and were used to bring him to trail.
How Eichmann comes to Argentina is part of the mystery and builds some of the suspence for the story. He was a high ranking member of the SS, and no one wanted to believe he had become a simple factory manager living in stucco hovel on the outskirts of Buenos Aires. Bascomb writes about his initial escape, "he hiked away into the mountains, Eichmann was far from prepared to be a man on the run. He had little money, no safe house, and no forged papers. Unlike some of his SS comrades, he had not salted away a fortune in gold and foreign currency. Now he regretted that he had not kept the bribes he took from the Jewish leaders, who would have given him everything they had in exchange for their lives." Eichmann is also shown to have been pulled into the Genocide by others but then fully embraces the events as they took place. One can only wonder if the AE diatribes about the greatness of Nazism are left out so that a young audience wouldn't become inundated by his warped since of bigotry and violent nationalism. (hide spoiler)] What is here is the harrowing events of the Israeli Mossad and Shin Bat agents and the volunteers who helped them Isser Harel and his men where an amazing team that spent hundreds of hours researching and detaining Eichmann's capture. In his own words, "for the first time in history the Jews will judge their assassins, and for the first time the world will hear the full story of the edict of annihilation against an entire people. Everything depends on the action we are about to take.” This is a book that should be on everyone's to read list....more
By no means concise but in every aspect, brilliant. This work should be studied by every 20th century or Asian history student. His attention to detaiBy no means concise but in every aspect, brilliant. This work should be studied by every 20th century or Asian history student. His attention to detail and rhetoric makes a daunting text readable and immersive throughout. I've used excerpts from this text almost year I've taught. ...more
**spoiler alert** When I first read Hiroshima, as a junior in high school, my thoughts traveled to images of war torn towns. The violence of Saving Pr**spoiler alert** When I first read Hiroshima, as a junior in high school, my thoughts traveled to images of war torn towns. The violence of Saving Private Ryan had not yet been unleashed, but we knew violence as a concept not a whole. I am a child of the Vietnam generation but only watched the limited news snippets and cultural iconography associated with a miss understood war. The amazing aspect of this fact is that John Hersey has created a piece of literature that presents the ideas of civilian suffering during war, in an almost absolute vacuum of frontline violence. Nowhere does he look at the life of the soldier but instead the microcosm of daily life after the destruction of war. In addition, his background in journalism gives him the tools to present a narrative rich in factual reality not diluted by factoids. Thus, as an adolescent, I was exposed to, the once thought to be collateral, damages of total war. By recreating the daily lives Hiroshima citizens, Hersey takes all readers on a journey of sorrowful bewilderment in the chaotic aftermath of the bombing.
Moving backwards in the novel, one can find the resemblance of natural life as we know it today. In fact, the last statement of the novel involves Father Kleinsorge and the other priest, “tak(ing) a relatively detached view, often discussing the ethics of using a bomb.” Since Hersey comes to the city after the attack takes place, one could imagine this is the first introduction of the priests to the journalist, a group of German Jesuits arguing philosophy in the remains of a conquered people. An excerpt is included to show the point of view expressed by those present and associated with the Roman Catholic Church, “does it have material and spiritual evil as its consequences which far exceed whatever good may result?” This provokes the reader back to a point of reflection that may have drawn the reader into the novella initially. In addition, the purpose may also be to divert the reader back away from the aspect of chaotic humility expressed by the Father early in the story.
As we meet the characters, Father Kleinsorge is calmly reading but is then violently sent wondering about the mission house in his underwear without explanation. Since the novel generated by interviews after the event and written in third person point of view, we are never told what has happened to the priest. It is simply explained as, “for a few seconds or minuets, he went out of his mind.” This stylistic choice of Hersey shows that the author is not present for the act itself but do to the word choice it is simply overlooked by the reader. It reads almost like watching a video of the events. Each scene is limited to the viewpoint of the main character presented but no further insight or analysis of personal motivations is given. When returning the same character again in the next chapter he presents the shambled remnants of his room with some personal insight but very little. Evidence is seen that during the interviewing process Father Kleinsorge was simply talking about the events but not necessary remembering every emotional detail. His actions, in returning to the room, are explained as precautionary for the collection items but also, “weird and illogical.”
His room contained an unopened first aid kit, even though he was bleeding, no indication of his clothes and a briefcase full of documents and money sitting in his doorway. One can only wonder if he stripped himself of his vestments, after leaving behind the briefcase, in a subconscious way of walking away from his responsibilities before coming to, in the garden dressed only in his aforementioned torn underwear. Not to belabor the point; however, it seems almost odd to think of one in their underwear running about the streets of a war zone. This seems to conjure up images reminiscent of the My Lai massacre photos, another moment of civilian decimation at the hands of total war; yet, still 20 years in the future of the first publication.
A large bulk of the novel is dedicated to the chaos of bringing medical attention to the wounded and the lack of general electronic communication in the aftermath of the bomb. It reads with great sadness but at times an apathy overcomes the reader similar in scope to that experienced by Father Kleinsorge when people begin screaming for help in all directions. Many will have seen the death of this magnitude in contemporary news stories. The shock of the dying has been lost over time but the essence of want and selflessness expressed by the priest is worth reading. The relationship of faith mentioned in the final pages gains redemptive traction quickly, as Miss Sasaki converts to Catholicism in the presence of the priest’s faith and the bomb’s destruction. It is at this point one could assume Hersey arrives to tell the story as his facts become more numerous and we find the quoted passage from the RCC report mentioned only seven paragraphs later.
However, this is a smattering comments of childhood obliqueness. Hersey recalls quotes and observances made by the children saved or protected by the priest in the months following the blast. Almost as if saying in the months following the disaster a small generation of children would forget the moment but remember the shared histories revealed. This look at a singular event, with limited impersonal but overly emotional views is an amazing example of what can be done for moments of tragedy. ...more