Friday, November 11, 2011

Books #39 and #40

I found Evans' book particularly useful as I worked to create our fall Humanities expedition about Hitler's rise to power. Though dealing with an enormously complex time period, Evans' narrative is efficient and engaging. His description of the Nazi's uncanny ability to take advantage of circumstances and twist them to their own ends is startling even to someone who knows this history pretty well. His analysis of the professed "legality" of Hitler's rise is powerful and concise. I'll definitely read volumes I and II, though I'll likely take a break first.

I don't often read books of poetry. I devoured this one in about an hour. Charles Reznikoff took testimony from Nazi war crimes trials and trimmed a bit in order to present the Holocaust in the words of perpetrators and victims. It's an elegant, shocking, and unbearably brutal work. I might use it in class to help kids examine the roles of oppressor, victim, bystander, and rescuer during the Holocaust. The stories and events presented are of course unimaginable, and Reznikoff must have had amazing mental and spiritual endurance to complete this awful work. I suspect he knew it was necessary.

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