Reading the Holocaust by Inga Clendinnen, NOOK Book (eBook) | Barnes & Noble
Reading the Holocaust

Reading the Holocaust

by Inga Clendinnen
     
 

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Winner of the New South Wales Premier's History Award and one of the New York Times' ten best books of 1999.

In this searching and eloquent book, Inga Clendinnen explores the experience of the Holocaust from both the victims' and the perpetrators' points of view. She discusses the remarkable survivor testimonies of writers such as Primo Levi and Charlotte

Overview

Winner of the New South Wales Premier's History Award and one of the New York Times' ten best books of 1999.

In this searching and eloquent book, Inga Clendinnen explores the experience of the Holocaust from both the victims' and the perpetrators' points of view. She discusses the remarkable survivor testimonies of writers such as Primo Levi and Charlotte Delbo, the vexed issue of resistance in the camps, and strategies for understanding the motivations of Nazis at all levels.

Clendinnen focuses an anthropologist's precise gaze on the actions of the murderers in the police battalions and among the SS in the camps. And she considers how the Holocaust has been portrayed in poetry, fiction and film. Searching and eloquent, Reading the Holocaust is an uncompromising attempt to extract the comprehensible-the recognisably human-from the unthinkable.

'Inga Clendinnen claims for history the same power as poetry or fiction to enter the silences and make them speak.' David Malouf

Editorial Reviews

Daphne Merkin
...[A]n important, insightful, superbly written meditation on a sorrow beyond words...
New York Times Book Review
The Jerusalem Post
Reading the Holocaust is worthwhile indeed.
Kirkus Reviews
A trenchant collection of essays intended to forge the human connections necessary to begin the move toward a full understanding of the Holocaust. Clendinnen critiques the notion that the Holocaust is a unique event that falls outside the boundaries of normal history; it was, she notes, perpetuated by members of 20th-century Western society like ourselves. While she recognizes that the Holocaust presents particular difficulties of representation, such as the relative scarcity of survivors able to tell their stories, the failure of words to communicate human suffering, and the impossibility of communicating the experience of those rendered mute or murdered, she insists that we can come to understand this episode in human history through the unglamorous techniques commonly employed by historians and biographers. Rather than the search for general causes and flashes of intuition, she stresses the need for the piecing together of contexts, the establishing of sequences of actions, and the inferring of the likely intentions behind those actions from our knowledge of the individuals involved and our general stock of knowledge about human motivations. Her approach stresses the absolute necessity of understanding both the victims of the Holocaust and those who perpetrated it. She demands a historical accounting not only of those orchestrating the "final solution," but of the regular soldiers, the police brigades, and even the Sondercommandos, the camp prisoners, mostly Jews, who supplied much of the labor to keep the camps running. The impulse to think of the Nazis as beyond comprehension and to confuse understanding them with identifying with them, yields the dangerous possibility that theiractions will be understood as merely idiosyncratic. Although she draws heavily upon literary voices, such as Primo Levi and Charlotte Delbo, Clendinnen suggests that the Holocaust can best be understood through historical writing. An important step toward an honest encounter with one of the great horrors of our past.

From the Publisher
"Reading the Holocaust, is not, despite its somewhat generic title, just another book about the Holocaust....this is an important, insightful, superbly written meditation on a sorrow beyond words, well worth the attention of outsiders and insiders alike." New York Times Book Review

"Reading the Holocaust is an excellent introduction to Holocaust studies and a lucid, morally stringent reflection on genocide."
Susan A. Crane, University of Arizona, Journal of Modern History

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781921776489
Publisher:
The Text Publishing Company
Publication date:
05/16/2010
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
264
File size:
667 KB

What People are saying about this

Clifford Geertz
As the Holocaust moves from living memory into the archival past, the responsibility for keeping its reality actual to our minds and its meaning uncorrupted passes from the hands of the chronicler and the memorialist into those of the historian. For such a telling, Inga Clendinnen, whose earlier works on the Spanish conquest of the Mayans and human sacrifice among the Aztecs have demonstrated her ability to investigate the extremities of cruelty without either exploiting their drama or explaining them away, is superbly equipped. Beautifully written and exactly felt, Reading the Holocaust is a major contribution to collective remembering and to the register of what happens.
— Author of After the Fact: Two Countries, Four Decades, One Anthropologist

Meet the Author

Inga Clendinnen was born in Geelong in 1934. Her early books and scholarly articles on the Aztecs and Maya of Mexico earned her a reputation as one of the world’s finest historians. Reading the Holocaust, Tiger’s Eye and Dancing with Strangers have been critically acclaimed and won a number of local and international awards.

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