Preserving Memory: The Struggle to Create America's Holocaust Museum / Edition 1

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Since its first year in 1993, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has attracted more than 15 millino visitors, sometimes at the rate of 10,000 a day, each of whom has walked away with an indelible impression of awe in the face of the unimaginable. This lively, honest, behind-the-scenes account details the emotionally complex fifteen-year struggle surrounding the museum's birth.

Columbia University Press

Linenthal follows the Holocaust Museum from its nearly incidental beginnings in domestic politics, recounting important stages in its conceptualization and realization--from choosing the site, to the design of the building and exhibits, through an obstacle course of political, logistical, ideological, and spiritual dilemmas, to the art of defining for the American public the Holocaust itself and its place in history and memory. Illustrations throughout. 352 pp. Targeted ads.

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Editorial Reviews

Jewish Book World
Since it opened in 1993, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has been garnering much attention and many visitors. This book chronicles the plan to create and build the Museum, from early discussions through the careful decision-making and design process, in which the early questions of what exactly to commemorate and how to shape a Holocaust memorial of this magnitude were being continuously considered and debated.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Passages in this discussion of the selection of artifacts-children's shoes, leg braces, bundles of women's hair-to be exhibited in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington are harrowing to read. At the same time, the bureaucratic infighting and political tugging on the President's Commission on the Holocaust and its successor, the United States Holocaust Memorial Council, tend to trivialize the raison d'etre of the museum: about what sort of building to erect that would be a ``good neighbor'' to others on the Mall, about whether to include articles that once belonged to Gypsies and homosexuals who were also victims, about commemorating other genocides like the slaughter of the Armenians in 1915. Ultimately, Linenthal's (Sacred Ground: Americans and Their Battlefields) carefully researched account seeks to answer the vexing question of the ``place'' of Holocaust memory in American culture. Illustrations not seen by PW. (Apr.)
Library Journal
Linenthal (religion and American culture, Univ. of Wisconsin, Oshkosh) describes the 15-year effort to create a national museum commemorating the Holocaust. He begins with the creation in May 1978 of the President's Commission on the Holocaust during the Carter administration. He then covers issues related to the location, design, and construction of the museum building. Linenthal's most significant contribution is the chapter on defining and representing the horror of the Holocaust. He skillfully describes the dilemmas facing the organizers of the exhibits, such as how to depict the story of mass murder and yet personalize it, how to represent the Nazis and other perpetrators of the Holocaust in the exhibit, and whether non-Jewish victims should be included. Linenthal tells the story of defining and representing America's memory of the Holocaust with sensitivity and thoroughness. For all collections.-Mark Weber, Kent State Univ. Lib., Ohio
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231124072
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 9/19/2001
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 914,117
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.12 (h) x 0.81 (d)

Meet the Author

Edward T. Linenthal is professor of religious studies at the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh. He is the author of The Unfinished Bombing: Oklahoma City in American Memory and Sacred Ground: Americans and their Battlefields.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

Preface: Violence and American LandscapeAcknowledgementsIntroduction: Locating Holocaust Memory in American Culture

Chapter 1:The Decision to Remember Who Owns the Memory? The Politics of Representation: The President's Commission on the Holocaust Who Owns the Memory? The Politics of Representation: The United States Holocaust Memorial CouncilSumary Reflections: The Volatility of Holocaust Memory

Chapter 2: The Site of Holocaust MemoryBuilding Holocaust Memory

Chapter 3: Embryonic Thoughts: The Commission's MuseumBeginnings: 1980-87The End of the Wiesel Era and BeyondJeshajahu "Shaike" Weinberg and the Changing Nature of the Permanent Exhibition

Chapter 4:Interior Space: The Mood of MemoryPersonalizing the Story: Faces and ArtifactsEnduring Issues: Shaping the Boundaries of Memory The Boundaries of Horror The Boundaries of Representation: The Perpetrators The Boundaries of Representation: An Artifact out of Place The Boundaries of Interpretation: Contested Issues and the Voice of the Exhibition The Boundaries of Inclusion: Armenians and GypsiesThe Center and the Periphery of Holocaust MemoryEndings: The Lure of Redemption

Conclusion:Mobilizing Holocaust Memory Burdensome Memory Treacherous Memory Murderous Memory Hopeful Memory



Columbia University Press

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