cover image The Genocidal Mentality: Nazi Holocaust and Nuclear Threat

The Genocidal Mentality: Nazi Holocaust and Nuclear Threat

Robert Jay Lifton. Basic Books, $22.95 (346pp) ISBN 978-0-465-02662-3

Does the nuclear arms race, with its ``grotesque . . . mass planning for genocide,'' resemble the Nazis' slaughter of Jews? The authors draw provocative, if partial, parallels. Just as Germany's top doctors became ``biological managers,'' supervising the extermination ovens, so the U.S. and Soviet war machines employ top physicists and think-tank technicians to coldly plan our annihilation. Just as the Nazis went to great lengths to conceal their mass murder, so the nuclearists stress the ``preventive'' nature of the gigantic, ever-growing stockpiles while blunting public consciousness of our rush to Armageddon. And just as the Nazi genocide became ``a silent, collective crusade'' involving German society as a whole, so the nuclear elite keep the masses at the threshold of genocide by asserting a willingness to cross that threshold. This is a gutsy, disturbing and important book by eminent psychosocial historian Lifton ( The Nazi Doctors ) and sociologist Markusen (coeditor of Nuclear Weapons and the Threat of Nuclear War ) . (Apr.)