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The Guns of August: The Outbreak of World War I; Barbara W. Tuchman's Great War Series (Modern Library 100 Best Nonfiction Books)
The Guns of August: The Outbreak of World War I; Barbara W. Tuchman's Great War Series (Modern Library 100 Best Nonfiction Books)
von Barbara W. Tuchman

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5.0 von 5 Sternen Fair, Un-Biased Account of the Beginning of the Great War, 22. März 1998
Barbara Tuchman is one of the greatest historical writers, with-out a doubt. She ranks in the Pantheon of such figures as Heroditus, Robert K. Massie, and Sir Winston Churchill. Although _Guns of August_ was a tad long and technical, it is still one of the best works of this century.

As she said in the preface to _Guns of August_, 'I have tried to avoid spontaneous attribution or the "he must have" style of historical writing: "As he watched the coastline of France disappear, Napoleon must have though back over the long ...". All conditions of weather, thoughts or feelings, and states of mind ... have documentary support.' That is the sign of a good historical writer. She can simply relate the facts and give the reader the kind of suspense from a thriller movie, or the emotion from a romantic one. As she described the out-break of war between USA and Germany, one sympathized with Bernstorff and the American Ambassador to Germany. They each had friends in their host countries, and they cried to leave them. Similarly, the exchange between Count Friedrich von Pourtales and Sergej Sazonow is just as touching:

'Pourtales staggered to the window, leaned against it, and burst into tears. "So this is the end of my mission," he said when he could speak. Sazonow patted him on the shoulder, they embraced, and Pourtales stumbled to the door, which he could hardly open with a trembling hand, and went out murmuring, "Good-bye, good-bye."' (page 103)

Reading these books was an experience; it was more exciting than watching a movie, or even reading a novel. These were the facts, told simply. There was no superfluous additions; no editorial comments. Yet they were able to touch me, and I began to sympathize with the characters, similar to how I would react to a fictional one. Tuchman was able to weave poor, misguided Wilhelm; innocent, unrealistic Wilson; vindictive, blood-thirsty Churchill; and pessimistic Helmuth von Moltke into a tapestry of fantastic story-telling. And the conclusion: I found myself rooting for the Germans. To be able to make me switch sides alone; that is the greatest feat. Her unpartisan writing is the stuff the best books are made of.

Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust
Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust
von Daniel Jonah Goldhagen
Preis: EUR 14,95

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5.0 von 5 Sternen A Unique Look on a Controversial Subject, 22. März 1998
After reading the negative reviews about this fantastic piece of literature, I felt that a comment in support of it must be written. Daniel J. Goldhagen did extensive and thorough research on the topic; that is evident from page one. He sets out to, first-and-foremost, disprove the belief that 'ordinary' Germans were oblivious to the Holocaust. While it is true that he is a little repititious and over-emphasizes the results, he does prove his point.

He studies Police Battalions to prove that the actual genocide was not just accomplished by SS men and soldiers. He studies the back-grounds of the Battalion members and shows the true minority of Nazi Party members and SS men. In fact, the make-up of the Battalions reflects that of contemporary German society.

The graphic descriptions of some killing 'operations' juxtaposed with off-scene romance of the Battalion members shows how they were so ingrained with anti-Semetism that they did not even realize what they were doing. After the war, one man said, 'Only in later years did one actually become fully cognizant of what had taken place at the time.' (page 280). The man went on to say that only later did he realize that it was 'not right'. It is shocking to read the book, for it is unique in providing such a clear analysis of the killers.

Goldhagen also notes that many of the Battalion memebers were given the choice NOT to kill. Very few took it, and they were not punished, nor reprimanded for it (in quite a few cases, they were even promoted). Clearly, the killing was done by choice. Similarly, in the last days of the 'Thousand-Year' Reich, commanders of 'death-marches' refused to let the Jews flee, even though the war was almost lost, and they would have a chance to flee before capitulation. And they continued to mercilessly slaughter their prisoners, even though Heinrich Himmler, himself, had 'EXPRESSLY FORBIDDEN that any more Jews be killed' (page 356).
Goldhagen's book is a modern masterpiece, one that should be read and studied more than once. His information is all based on facts, and his results are stunning. Although there are those who say that his implicating 'ordinary' Germans in the Holocaust is like implicated 'ordinary' Americans in racism, it is true. Those Battalion members who did not wish to kill could have simply opted out, yet they did not (and they were 'ordinary Germans'). And the other Germans who did not believe in the racist creed could have assisted in saving Jews' and other minorities' lives. Yet they did not. Goldhagen disproves their lies of 'not knowing'; most memos concerning slaughter of Jews were not even classified. And it is well known that ashes from bodies fell from the air all around Auschwitz (Oswiecim). Goldhagen's book is only controversial for one reason: people do not want to admit that it's true.

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