Istvan Deak, Author . Univ. of Nebraska $55 (222p) ISBN 978-0-8032-1716-4 ISBN 0-8032-6630-8

In the past few decades, scholars have produced a prodigious amount of work on the Nazi period and the Holocaust. As Deák puts it, "Holocaust literature is one of the richest devoted to a single event; it is also one of the newest." In this collection of scholarly essays, many of them first published in the New York Review of Books and the New Republic, Deák provides a balanced, incisive review of much of this academic work. The articles deal with a broad variety of topics, demonstrating remarkable familiarity with hundreds of books, all crafted around several themes. Deák, a Hungarian-born professor of history at Columbia University, generally takes a cautious approach to the vast amounts of scholarship he reviews, ranging from the initial support for the Nazi Party (more spread out among all classes of society than once believed), Pope Pius XII and the Jews (the pope "proved weak and fallible") and the Holocaust in several European countries (all of which, he says, "produced roughly the same proportion of butchers, of the indifferent, of sympathizers, and of active rescuers"). But he's not afraid to be more opinionated. For example, he's critical of Daniel Goldhagen's controversial theory about longstanding "German eliminationist anti-Semitism" being responsible for the Holocaust. "What stands out is the book's preconceived notions and unsubstantiated claims, its intended shock value instead of historical value," he writes. This can take its place alongside Robert Wistrich's Hitler and the Holocaust (Forecasts, Sept. 3) as an up-to-date shortcut to holocaust scholarship. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 10/15/2001
Release date: 09/01/2001
Genre: Nonfiction
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