cover image Simon Wiesenthal: A Life in Search of Justice

Simon Wiesenthal: A Life in Search of Justice

Hella Pick. Northeastern University Press, $40 (384pp) ISBN 978-1-55553-273-4

Pick, former diplomatic editor of the Guardian, acknowledges that she was asked to write a biography of Simon Wiesenthal but insists that this flattering view is more than an authorized version of the Austrian Nazi-hunter's life and career. Still, this account is exceptionally one-sided. Born into a religious family in Galicia, Wiesenthal was trained as an architect but has spent the time since his liberation from Mauthausen concentration camp documenting the hideous crimes of individual Nazis, particularly members of the SS, and trying to bring those still living to justice. His work immediately after the war did provide invaluable information to the prosecutors at Nuremberg, but, ironically, his fame rests on an event he was less closely involved with--the arrest of Adolph Eichmann, the ultimate ""desk murderer."" Wiesenthal has long claimed to have been instrumental in Eichmann's capture in Argentina, but that interpretation has been contradicted by the leader of the Israeli undercover team. Wiesenthal has other enemies as well, and Pick laboriously details each argument and misunderstanding between Wiesenthal and leaders of various Jewish organizations and Austrian politicians. She is familiar with the torturous and nasty workings of Austrian politics, but readers might have been more interested in why Wiesenthal chose to live in such a virulently anti-Semitic country. (Oct.)