Chavi's Reviews > Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil

Eichmann in Jerusalem by Hannah Arendt
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Oct 10, 2015

really liked it
bookshelves: jewish, journalism, philosophy

There was too much to think about so I wrote the review in point form.

>> I read the book after I watched the movie Hannah Arendt which is great. Despite the name, it's actually a movie about an idea, and how that's really inseparable from its author.

>> Despite Arendt being a philosopher, and one accused of being heartless, what drives her idea on the banality of evil is how disconcerted she is by Eichmann the person. He's petty and mediocre: a paper pusher who is also a mass murderer. How do you reconcile that? How to make sense of a mass murderer that can say, "But I never killed," and mean it? Her starting point was emotion, but it was backed by knowledge. She'd literally written the book on totalitarianism.

>>The book spends several chapters detailing the deportations from every country in Europe that came under German control, divided by regions. It's tedious and horrifying, like Eichmann himself, and what he represents. Bureaucratic mass murder.

>> During those chapters Arendt refers to statelessness often. That almost every country began with deporting their foreign Jews who were also stateless, having fled from Germany or German occupied countries. Germany had made them stateless to facilitate this process. That got me wondering about this idea - that we've designed a system where you have to be a citizen to qualify for basic human rights. It turns out Arendt had written about that before too and that it's a way bigger issue than just about Jews and WWII, though Jews were uniquely stateless since unlike a stateless Russian or Bulgarian, they didn't have a homeland. Lots of implications of this.


>> It gets four stars for being important and readable, not for being good in a literary sense.
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Reading Progress

October 10, 2015 – Shelved
October 10, 2015 – Shelved as: to-read
October 18, 2015 – Started Reading
October 18, 2015 – Shelved as: jewish
October 18, 2015 – Shelved as: journalism
October 18, 2015 –
page 150
48.08%
October 18, 2015 –
page 161
51.6% "It is rather difficult to read a detailed account of the genocide of your people."
October 22, 2015 – Finished Reading
March 16, 2016 – Shelved as: philosophy

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