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Mengele: Unmasking the "Angel of Death"

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  414 ratings  ·  64 reviews
A gripping account of the infamous Nazi doctor, from a former Justice Department official tasked with uncovering his fate.

One of the most notorious war criminals of all time, Dr. Josef Mengele has come to symbolize both the evil of the Nazi regime and the failure of justice in the postwar world. Drawing on new scholarship and sources, historian David G. Marwell examines Me
Hardcover, 448 pages
Published January 28th 2020 by W. W. Norton Company
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Average rating 3.64  · 
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Kylie D
Dec 30, 2019 rated it liked it
A well researched and factual book, based on the findings of the Justice Department teams sent to discover notorious Nazi Dr Joseph Mengele's whereabouts in the 1980's. The first half of the books looks at Mengele's life and the second half the search for him, and the forensic proofs that the team found.

My main problem with this book was the delivery. If you want the information on the case, it's all there. If you want the facts presented in an engaging and entertaining way, you wont find that h
Theresa Lorenzo
Dec 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
There is not much I can say about this book because I think the title says it all. However, that being said, it is such a scholarly work by Mr. Marwell who worked on this at the Justice Department. Mr. Marwell did not dwell on the atrocities Mengele committed but rather on the breadth of the investigation into him and the attempts to bring him to justice. His information is impeccably highlighted and he brings into stark reality the evils of the Nazis.

In this day and age when people are being ca
Fredrick Danysh
The author spent years in the Special Investigations Office of the Justice Department investigating Joseph Mengele. While some of Mengele's actions are recorded, most of the work is a history of the Holocaust. This book presents an informative history of the Holocaust. This was a free review copy obtained through ...more
Dec 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Five, then four, stars.

This is a brilliant biography of Josef Mengele, that proves once and for all that there is too much negative hype about the man. Too many witnesses claim he was doing the selection at Birkenau for the gas chambers for him ever to have taken a loo break; too many people give inaccurate descriptions of the man when they declare he was evil to them personally. Also, the most heinous things he was accused of were likely to be balderdash, considering the real science behind wha
This would have been a great book, had it been 200 pages shorter. The biography portion wasn't too bad, if jammed with too many details, considered relevant only to a historian. The "hunt" part was dry, laborious and missed a grand opportunity to tell one of the most compelling stories of Nazi hunting there is. Rather, it read like a cross between an academic tome and a government briefing. Which I suppose, in some ways, it was.

Wouldn't recommend unless you have a deep and abiding interest in Me
This was an interesting look at the life of Nazi doctor Josef Mengele. Author David G. Marwell is an American historian and the former director of the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City, according to his Wikipedia page.
Interestingly, Wikipedia also notes that Marwell served as Chief of Investigative Research for the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Special Investigations. In that capacity, Marwell was responsible for conducting historical and forensic research in support of Justice D
Rhiannon Johnson
Jan 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Thank you to W.W. Norton for my complimentary review copy.

Read this review on my blog:

Tuesday 1/28/2020 marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, a place where Josef Mengele determined the fate of countless innocents and selected thousands more for his “scientific” pursuits. In “Mengele: Unmasking the ‘Angel of Death’” (released today) former chief of investigative research at the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations (OS
Ann J
Apr 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those interested in history, and not repeating history
Excellent book. Not at all sensational, and really does not go into tremendous detail about what exactly Mengele did during his time at Auschwitz. More a laying bare of the mundane nature of evil...when you separate science from humanity, that's what you've got. And interesting details of his escape from Germany, even after being held as a POW by the Americans and released... his death in South America, and the attempts to definitively identify him after death. ...more
Feb 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
First half is a biography and look into the myths surrounding this man. I felt it was pretty unbiased and well researched. The second half is about the investigations and trying to find Mengele. The author was an investigator in the 80s I believe.
Feb 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wow!! This is a great book!! I am only about half way through the book, but I want to make some comments before I forget them. Though I am an extensive reader of WWII history, I have never read ( to the best of my recollection ) a book devoted entirely to Josef Mengele. There are many books about Auschwitz and his connection to the death camp, but in this book his time there covers about 70 pages of a 350 page book ( 400 with the notes). First a few words about the author. ( Credibility in histo ...more
Angelique Simonsen
Feb 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Completely changed the way I thought about Mengele. More a product of his time and political leanings than a true monster who would have done what he did and enjoyed the victims pain. I do think that he was affected greatly by the early part of the war.
A very clever man who could have changed the world for the better if only he was born in another time and place
Rachel Davis
Mar 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Insightful book on the life of a monster.
Dimitar Kashmerøv
Nov 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
One of the best analysed and well descriped biographical books i ve ever read.
Feb 05, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Well written, researched and presented discussion of Mengele, alive, and dead.
Paul Gaglio
Feb 19, 2020 rated it liked it
I really thought I was going to be fascinated by this book. It is such an interesting story it could be a work a fiction. So I cannot tell you how truly disappointed I was with it.
The book is very well researched and the author is definitely knowledgeable on the subject matter as he played an active part in it. However it is written in such a clinical boring prose. It is perplexing to wonder how such a fascinating subject could be turned into a mundane novel
John McDonald
Mar 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Historian David Marwell, who as one of several DOJ Office of Special Investigations investigators which included lawyers, historians, anthropologists, and other medical professionals seeking to find and get Nazi doctor Joseph Mengele to trial for war crimes, has given us a book that really has 2 parts: the first is a rather dense description of Mengele's biography and his medical atrocities committed during his tenure as the medical director at Auschwitz, and second, the actual investigation con ...more
Jun 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Very in depth story of the life of Mengele. It does not however mainly focus on the atrocities of his time in Auschwitz, but his life before and after he left Europe for South America. A lot of time is devoted to trying to find him, and once the grave was found to identify his bones. The book leaves no doubt this the bones are his. Truly exhaustive research went into the writing of this history.
A must for any WWII buff
Jan 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I thought this was a phenomenal book. Incredibly well-researched, presented in a format that makes it easy to follow and enjoy and by a more than credible source.

If you are looking for the answers to who Mengele was, what his life was like before and after his involvement in WWII and trying to draw a conclusion about what happened to him, this is the book to read. If you are bothered by discussions of the Shoah, you should perhaps be warned that this book does go into detail on some of the atro
Feb 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Mr. Marwell presents us with Mengele. The name alone sends shivers down the spine of anyone familiar with, indeed raised on Holocaust literature. Mengele. Who was he and how did he become, well, Mengele???

Mr. Marwell's new book does not disappoint. At all. Indeed, his extensive research into these questions (and more) ultimately stands in support of the infamous observations of the philosopher, Hannah Arendt, who coined the phrase "the banality of evil." While Arendt was reporting on the trial o
Oliver Bogler
Feb 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
A well written and researched biography of Mengele that lays out clearly the man's life and career. The book is more or less split between the biographical section and then the story of how Mengele's remains were tracked down in Brazil and identified by a large, international team of scientists. Mr. Marwell participated actively in the investigations and brings much detail and perspective to that part of the story. I found the biography of Mengele more interesting. Since I never doubted that the ...more
Mohamed Tahar Hamada
Feb 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Randomly found this book in one of goodread's Lists I got immediatly interested by the name of it because i have heared soo many times about ''Mengele'' or even the name he was known for ''Angel of death'' but i never really got the chance to find a good book neither about him nor about the nazi regime,That book was first a very good educational opportunity for me to know more about anthropology and especially the racial studies and the time and just the overall political ideas that were at the ...more
Jan 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
'Mengele' is well-researched and gives an excellent insight into the notorious Josef Megele. I have read several books about the Holocaust recently where Mengele features as a character, and I was interested in reading more about the doctor referred to as the 'Angel of Death'. The author, David G Marwell, was part of the international investigation team from the US Department of Justice tased with locating Mengele. This element adds further interest to this well written, comprehensive historical ...more
Nov 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
I received an ARC of this through Goodreads. I enjoyed this glimpse into the life of Josef Mengele and the following hunt for him. My only issue was that the notes in Chapter 6 end up being 2 behind, so note 47 for example is actually note 49 and so on. Hopefully that can be fixed before finished copies are released. But other than that, I liked this a lot!
A very well-written and researched book on one of the most notorious Nazi war criminals there ever was. Not a dull moment and easy to read. I found it hard to put down. I recommend it to all WW2/Holocaust readers.
Michelle Kidwell
Mar 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Unmasking the "Angel of Death"
by David G. Marwell

W. W. Norton & Company

Biographies & Memoirs , History

Pub Date 28 Jan 2020

I am reviewing a copy of Mengele: Unmasking the Angel of Death through W.W. Norton and Company and Netgalley:

Disclaimer: This book contains extremely sensitive subject matters, and tells of grotesque experiments, this book is not meant for children.

Honestly I struggled through the details of this book as well, but I feel this is an important book in order to better und
Mike Clay
Mar 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
The author David Marwell, former director of the Museum of Jewish Heritage in NYC, worked on the Mengele case at the Justice Department Office of Special Investigations in the mid-80s. The book is based on both primary sources (archives throughout the world) and many secondary works. The author read Mengele's correspondence and diaries and autobiography. There is a short preface of a few pages, followed by four parts: Becoming Mengle (pre-Auschwitz), Auschwitz, Flight and Pursuit (the longest se ...more
Varapanyo Bhikkhu
Apr 05, 2020 rated it liked it
Eric Striker:

Marwell’s work is considered the most well-researched mainstream biography of Mengele to date. In it, he cross references witness testimony from “survivors” with hard evidence and primary sources, only to conclude that their “memories” were “unreliable.” In other words, they are lying.

Stitching together humans to create siamese twins, smashing babies against train cars, attempts to transform boys into girls – all of the barbarism etched into the popular mind about a German in a lab
Sep 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
A good, well-written account of Mengele's life, career, and the hunt to bring him to justice. I enjoyed it in general, but kept feeling that it was quite dry. It wasn't until I was near the end that I realized that it wasn't the author's fault. He wrote well and factually, but the thing about Mengele is the thing about so many others of his Ilk: like most Nazi's, the guy was simply banal. There wasn't a whole lot to Mengele. He wasn't brilliant, he wasn't colorful, he wasn't what we think of whe ...more
Apr 16, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
If you are looking for the most lurid tales of the Nazi monster known as the angel of death, this isn't it. While not apologizing for Mengele in any way, the author (who was part of the Department of Justice team that searched for Mengele in the post-war years) puts him in the context of the Nazi system, his fellow doctors at Auschwitz, and the race "science" of the time.

I find the author sometimes a bit coldly analytical when it comes to explaining mis-remembrances by Auschwitz survivors. But I
marcus miller
Apr 26, 2020 rated it liked it
Marwell provides a detailed look at the story of Mengele, focusing in large part on Mengele's escape from post war Nazi Germany and the efforts to find him. Marwell offers an inside look at the investigation from the US perspective as he was one of several historians assigned the task of finding information on Mengele's as part of the effort to prove the skeletal remains found, were those of Mengele. The opening chapters document Mengele's education and career, his rise in the Nazi SS and his ho ...more
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David G. MarwellDavid G. Marwell, Ph.D. has had a distinguished career in public history. He spent nine years at the US Department of Justice, where, as Chief of Investigative Research, he conducted research in support of the investigation and prosecution of Nazi war criminals in the United States. As a part of this effort, he played major roles in the Klaus Barbie and Josef Mengele investigations ...more

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