Cheryl's Reviews > Human Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II, the End of Civilization

Human Smoke by Nicholson Baker
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Apr 09, 11

bookshelves: favorites, holocaust-wwii, non-fiction
Read in April, 2011

What did the English speaking world write in their newspapers about the rise of Hitler, the Jewish propaganda, and the loss of rights of the German Jews? What were the views of Churchill and Roosevelt of Hitler between 1932 to the invasion of Poland in 1939? Volumes have been written by learned authors about this piece of history, but what would it be like to read newspaper accounts that were written in real time? HUMAN SMOKE by Nicholson Baker presents the news as it happened, editorials as opinions were formed, and the beliefs of Roosevelt, Churchill and other officials about the course of action to be taken. The text consists of newspaper clippings, arranged by dates, but devoid of narrative by the author. It is the reader who forms opinions and participates in answering the question, "What lead to the horror that was WWII?" Privately all humans stumble due to unfounded opinions, however here the reader sees the consequences on a grand scale. There is much to be learned about rationalizations, denials, hubris, and racism. Who were the voices of reason and humanity who went unheard?

Human smoke refers to the remains floating outside the windows of German homes, and inside the minds of us who remember and ask, "Could it have been prevented?
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