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Nuremberg: Infamy on Trial

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  457 Ratings  ·  47 Reviews
The Nuremberg trials remain, after nearly a half a century, the benchmark for judging international crimes. Using new sources--ground-breaking research in the papers of the Nuremberg prison psychiatrist and commandant, the letters and journals of the prisoners, and accounts of the judges and prosecutors as they struggled through each day making compromises and steeling the ...more
Paperback, 560 pages
Published August 1st 1995 by Penguin Books (first published 1994)
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M. D.  Hudson
Jul 23, 2013 rated it liked it
Poor Fritz Sauckel, the Third Reich’s conscript labor organizer. He was short, bald, uneducated and from a working class background, and he persisted in making things even worse by keeping the toothbrush moustache he wore in homage to his Fuehrer. Furthermore, he only scored 116 on his jailers’ IQ test, third-lowest of the Nuremberg 23. Worst of all, he had no real idea what a “western” trial consisted of (neither did some of the trial officials, but that is another story). In contrast, Albert S ...more
I'm taking off a star because of a lack of footnotes. There are endnotes, but they are those endnotes that don't have any asterix, making it so you really have to read the endnotes themselves.

Persico gives a huge amount of detail, but keeps the story interesting. It is fasnicating, though not surprising, how much politics came into the Nuermberg trials. My only complanint is that at the end of the book, Persico tells you what happened to the players, but doesn't mention any of the women, some of
Sep 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing
The is the best book written on the trials at Nuremberg. The description of the setting, the details of the defendant's role in the horror, the thought process of the prosecutors all broken down between the various stages of the trial were so well written. I would recommend this book to any person interested in the devils behind the Third Reich.
Sharon Arnoldi
Feb 16, 2014 rated it it was ok
If there weren't other books on this topic out there I'd have givn it a higher vote, however this one pales in comparison with others (e.g. Telford Taylor's book). The Introductory section is well-written and informative, especially as pertains to the complex moral and jurisdictional issues of the tribunal and trial, which for me is the most important lesson to be learned from Nuremberg anyway. It was NOT about the good guys sitting in judgment of the monsters and Persico does make this clear. A ...more
Aug 24, 2011 rated it liked it
Not bad, but not as good as it could have been. Persico tried hard to construct a suspenseful account of the Nuremberg trials, and mostly succeeded… but his narrative style forced him to sacrifice rigor for “readability”. Persico did a nice job illustrating the various tensions at play between the trial’s participants, but I certainly would have preferred less of the who-was-dating-who stuff, and more documentary meat on the bones of the narrative. It’s not safe to assume that all readers of thi ...more
Dec 28, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, nonfiction
Interesting overview of the Nuremberg trial, but it lacked thoroughness and rigor. There were several minor factual errors, as well as a horde of unattributed quotations. Footnotes and endnotes: use them! The author also had an obnoxious habit of giving internal monologues to defendants and court figures who left no written record of their thoughts. Yes, a view into Goering's "mind" is interesting reading, but it interferes with historical accuracy.
James Repass
Jun 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I have just finished this book, and it is chilling and powerful. To anyone who ever encounters Holocaust deniers or skeptics, send them this book, because it demonstrates so very clearly how the Nuremberg convictions against Nazi war criminals were obtained: by the use of Nazi Germany's very own,and meticulous records.

Never again!

Jim RePass
Nov 25, 2010 rated it liked it
This was assigned for my Nuremberg Trials class. At first I didn't like it very much because it presented historical events in a sort of fairy tale form, worded like fiction. After a while, the author started to present good insights and the writing took on a journalistic style. I would rather read straight non-fiction reporting of these events, but it wasn't entirely bad.
Mar 16, 2010 rated it liked it
A solid and readable account of the trial and personalities involved. I have yet to find a book, however, that tackles some of the thorny legal issues head on. Persico does mention them, but gives them only a brief discussion.

Nov 17, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Good-but I did not finish it (maybe read ~2/3). Heavy material, but written like a novel. It's just really long....
Oct 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
I am glad I read this as my knowledge of the trial was pretty scant. It could have been a slog given all the details necessary but I feel Persico actually kept everything moving pretty well. I found it interesting all the infighting that went on behind the scenes, sometimes the worst of it coming from within one country. Interesting too was how those sitting in judgement figured out how they could prosecute knowing how easily the roles could have been reversed with a different outcome to the war ...more
Vincent Lombardo
Jun 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: owned-books
I learned a lot and enjoyed the book at times, but it was too long, disorganized, unwieldy, and repetitive. Persico should have focused on fewer people; the book was padded with too many "characters" and their unimportant stories. The first half of the book, about the reasons for the trial and the events leading up to it, is more interesting than the trial and its aftermath.
Chris Lira
May 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I am very familiar with this era of history but still learned a fair amount reading this book. Imthink the author did a very good job on keeping the focus on the trial itself while providing jist enough background on each defendant. It was very interesting to read the process by which the legal justification and the charges were derived.
Aug 05, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: history
This book provides a very compelling narrative of the Nuremberg Nazi War Criminal Trial. We see the development of trial from the creation of the ex post facto creation of laws by the international community, through the politics and positioning evident amongst both the lawyers and the prisoners themselves and on to the sentencing of the prisoners. There is much criticism of the "after the fact" nature of the laws and it certainly does not seem just. However, it is interesting to note that these ...more
Keith Parrish
Jul 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a fascinating look at the behind-the-scenes events of the Nuremberg War Crime Trials. Persico writes largely from the point of view of Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, who served as the chief U.S. prosecutor. This book is not written for academics and reads more like a narrative (albeit a very well sourceid narrative). Persico takes us back to the beginning of the conception of what the trials should be, who should be tried, where it should take place and the mechanics of getting al ...more
Mar 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book is a comprehensive overview of the trial of the highest-ranking members of the Nazi leadership to be caught immediately after WWII. Persico manages to create a complete picture of the various actors: the judges, the lawyers, the prison administrator, the prison chaplains, the prison guards, and, of course, the men in the docket. The challenges faced with the creation of the new charge of "war crimes" and "crimes against humanity", as well as the differing legal structures of the allies ...more
Aug 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history-politics
A well researched and highly readable account that documents the post World War Two Nuremberg trial. The author does an excellent but difficult job of keeping the narrative interesting and informative without getting bogged down in detail something I greatly appreciated because such a book could easily become dry and boring because of the complicated subject matter. Throughout the book the author stressed the human drama and conflict of personalities over dry legal facts, thus, giving the reader ...more
Sep 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
I love the way the book is written. Despite the level of detail, Persico managed to keep the book interesting page after page.

Persico portrayed the many historical figures as ordinary men (and women) with personal quirks. I thought the whole book gave a fairly balanced view on the whole trial. Persico clearly highlighted the mounting tension between the Soviet Union and the US in the years after WWII leading to the Cold War. The Nuremberg trial thus became not only a fight between good and evil
Brandon Wu
May 09, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
Persico's history of the Nuremberg trials of 1945-46 reads like a novel. On the one hand, this is great: it's compulsively readable. On the other hand, it's a bit problematic: one is never sure what is hard historical fact and what is conjecture out of Persico's mind, merely based on tentative "fact" or a difficult-to-confirm interview source. This would be less of an issue in my mind if Persico had spent some more pages expounding on the historical legacy of the Nuremberg trials; alas, he only ...more
Feb 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
An excellent retelling of the events during the Nuremberg trials of 1945-46. A strong narrative element makes this book a real page-turner, and I definitely had a hard time putting this book down. Joseph Persico has made good use of primary sources in bringing the various players in the trial come to life. My only complain is a minor one, but is the reason why I took a half-star off my review. Twice in the book Persico puts the start of Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union in July 1941, rather ...more
Feb 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
A narrative history of the Nuremberg war crime trials. The author has an engaging style. Multiple story lines are inter-weaved: the judges, the prosecutors, the defendants, the jailors, the prison psychologist & psychiatrist (who were competing to see who could get their book about the defendants published first) & the press covering the trial. Some of the defendants are covered at greater lengths like Hermann Goering & Albert Speer. Goering is defiant and wants to be the leader of t ...more
Apr 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
For me, books like this deal with the central questions of political life, among them how to recognize evil when it comes as a seduction, mouthing comforting platitudes and wrapped in the flag. There is an amazing quote from Göring near the end of the book, about the ease of manipulating any population into bellicosity: "All you have to do is to tell them they are attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger."
Persico does a great job of making a
Dec 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Good for a first book on the subject. Interesting details covering everyone even remotely involved in the process but that makes for a sort of disjointed narrative. Great overview and maybe what you should read it you only intend to read one book on the trials. I was Interested that it was written at the time of the war in Bosnia when the possibility of actually prosecuting war crimes again became part of an international discussion.
David Stutzman
Sep 18, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Excellent inside account of the Nazi war criminal trials in Nuremburg. I found the most compelling aspects to be the powerful persona of Goering and the behind the scene politics of the trial's prosecutors. Read this if you want to learn about the Nazi ruling elite and the moral wrangling of the trial that was a precedent in international law.
Aug 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: suspense, historical
A well-written, well-researched, historically accurate book written as if it were a novel. What more could you ask for?

The book covers the Nuremberg trials and the events just prior and just after them. Based on transcripts of the trials and interviews with eyewitnesses, this book is sure to color your opinion of the trials.
Jan E
Mar 09, 2010 rated it really liked it
It was fascinating to read about the behind the scenes maneuvering of the four major allies to name their principle judges and legal teams, how deeply political the trials and sentencing were, and how gruesomely botched the executions. Also, cool interesting psycho details about the inmates.
Christina Roy
Got a lot of stuff in it about the various personalities, etc., that other books don't. It doesnt fo into enough depth to completely satisfy, and spends more time around the American I really cared about, but also illuminating for 1946 attitudes between German, Americans, Russians, etc.
Diane Schneider
Apr 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A very thorough examination of the war crimes trials. The author puts a human face on all aspects of the proceedings without relying on sensational descriptions of the atrocities. A must read for pretty much everyone.
Meg Whitehead cyr
May 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Awesome book. Learned lots about the defendants and prosecutors. So interesting. Definitely a page turner!!
May 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nazi
A very powerful book. I was ignorant about the trials at Nuremberg. The author took an I am there" approach that really worked well.
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Nurnburg Trial 1 7 Aug 14, 2009 07:20PM  
  • The Nuremberg Interviews
  • Interrogations: The Nazi Elite in Allied Hands, 1945
  • Goering
  • Speer: The Final Verdict
  • The Pacific War: 1941-1945
  • To Lose a Battle: France 1940
  • The Third Reich in History and Memory
  • Denying History: Who Says the Holocaust Never Happened & Why Do They Say It?
  • The Boys: The Story of 732 Young Concentration Camp Survivors
  • Patton And Rommel: Men of War in the Twentieth Century
  • The Spectacle of the Scaffold
  • Albert Speer: His Battle with Truth
  • Hitler: The Memoir of the Nazi Insider Who Turned Against the Fuhrer
  • Éminence: Cardinal Richelieu and the Rise of France
  • Eisenhower: A Soldier's Life
  • The Bravest Battle: The Twenty-eight Days of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising
  • The World Must Know: The History Of The Holocaust As Told In The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
  • Nuremberg Diary
Joseph E. Persico was the author of Roosevelt’s Secret War: FDR and World War II Espionage; Eleventh Month, Eleventh Day, Eleventh Hour: Armistice Day, 1918–World War I and Its Violent Climax; Piercing the Reich; and Nuremberg: Infamy on Trial, which was made into a television docudrama. He also collaborated with Colin Powell on his autobiography, My American Journey. He lives in Guilderland, New ...more
More about Joseph E. Persico...