The Lampshade: A Holocaust Detective Story from Buchenwald to New Orleans

Mark Jacobson, Simon and Schuster, $26 (336p) ISBN 978-1-4165-6627-4
A lampshade possibly made from the skin of a concentration camp prisoner fitfully depicts the limits of human brutality in this beguiling but unfocused odyssey. When DNA tests proved a lampshade, found in Katrina-ravaged New Orleans, to be made of human skin, New York magazine contributing editor Jacobson (12,000 Miles in the Nick of Time) set out to establish its provenance and meaning. Both prove elusive: evidence linking it to famous allegations that Nazis made lampshades from concentration camp victims is scanty, and Holocaust museum curators dismiss such claims. But as Jacobson's investigation takes him to places with legacies of racial hatred and mass killing—Buchenwald, Dresden, Israel, and the West Bank—he ponders the lampshade's mythic resonance as both a "particularist" emblem of Jewish victimization and a "universalist" token of human suffering. The author excels at sketching haunted locales and oddball characters, especially in atmospheric New Orleans, but his project is gimmicky—he calls in psychics and dubs the lampshade "Ziggy"—and his habit of seeing shades of the Holocaust everywhere feels forced. Jacobson's reportage is intriguing, but it doesn't pierce the darkness. (Sept. 14)
Reviewed on: 07/19/2010
Release date: 09/01/2010
Genre: Nonfiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-4001-1881-6
MP3 CD - 978-1-4001-6881-1
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-61657-472-7
Ebook - 336 pages - 978-1-4165-6630-4
Compact Disc - 978-1-4001-4881-3
Paperback - 368 pages - 978-1-4165-6628-1
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