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

Human Smoke by Nicholson Baker
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's review
Feb 13, 2009

liked it
bookshelves: history, lifelong-learners, europe
Read in February, 2009

This choppy history of World War 2 filled with personal narratives makes a convincing argument for pacifism, though the main impression it made on me was in knocking down two people whom I considered heroes: Churchill and Gandhi. I guess I just didn't know enough about Churchill to begin with, but he was a warmonger who clearly preferred to blitz Germany over coming to terms with them. Gandhi was a bit of a masochist, telling Jews to stay put and avoid defending themselves because the only true joy is in pain suffered willingly. Riiight. In the end, I'm not sure if I agree with the assertion that World War 2 was a senseless war. The book's title reminds me of the millions of Jews incinerated because they, we, and the German people practiced nonviolence. But it made a good argument.

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