Simon Wiesenthal: A Life in Search of Justice

Overview

Simon Wiesenthal survived thirteen concentration camps and has since spent more than fifty years searching for Nazi war criminals and bringing them to trial. This comprehensive and objective biography chronicles Wiesenthal's early life and survival in the camps, recounts in gripping detail each of his major Nazi hunts, and evenhandedly examines the conflicting reputations -- as both hero and egomaniacal liar -- of this controversial and enigmatic public figure.
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Overview

Simon Wiesenthal survived thirteen concentration camps and has since spent more than fifty years searching for Nazi war criminals and bringing them to trial. This comprehensive and objective biography chronicles Wiesenthal's early life and survival in the camps, recounts in gripping detail each of his major Nazi hunts, and evenhandedly examines the conflicting reputations -- as both hero and egomaniacal liar -- of this controversial and enigmatic public figure.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A full, lucid, and moving biography of the Nazi-hunter who became the 'unwelcome conscience' of post-Holocaust Europe." -Kirkus Reviews
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
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 withthe 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.)
Library Journal
Pick, a pre-World War II Austrian refugee who settled in Britain, has been a journalist with the Guardian since 1961. She has written an insightful biography of famous Austrian Jewish Nazi hunter Wiesenthal. A Holocaust survivor, Wiesenthal has dedicated his life to finding those who committed genocide but eluded justice. He has become the master of publicity, using the media to heighten awareness of criminals on the loose. Hollywood films, including The Odessa File and The Boys from Brazil, have made fictional use of the Wiesenthal story. The casual reader might not at first understand the passion behind Wiesenthal's quest, but Pick builds her story through details. When the reader learns, for instance, that not even a photograph remains of Wiesenthal's murdered mother, one can begin to understand why Wiesenthal has been so determined to document to the minute the Holocaust story. Pick has written a fascinating work that even someone unacquainted with Wiesenthal's story will enjoy. Recommended for most public libraries.Paul Kaplan, Lake Villa Dist. Lib., Ill.
Booknews
Wiesenthal, who survived thirteen concentration camps including Plaszow, the Polish death camp made famous by Schindler's List, dedicated himself to tracking and bringing to trial escaped Nazis after the war. In the process he has earned a reputation as a Jewish hero and an egomaniac. Pick's biography balances the extremes of that reputation by recalling his early life and work as an architect, his camp survival, the methods he uses to hunt Nazis, (among them Adolf Eichmann, and Josef Mengele), and his tempestuous relationships with Austrian Chancellor Bruno Kreisky and others involved in bringing Nazis to justice. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Kirkus Reviews
A full, lucid, and moving biography of the Nazi hunter who became the "unwelcome conscience" of post-Holocaust Europe.

Pick, diplomatic editor and feature writer of the Guardian since 1961, got Simon Wiesenthal's cooperation for this biography without ceding editorial control. This allows the author, who has long covered the careers of Wiesenthal and fellow Austrians Kurt Waldheim and Bruno Kreisky, to go well beyond her subject's published memoirs, The Murderers Among Us (1967) and Justice Not Vengeance (1990). While recording Wiesenthal's monumental achievements in both tracking down Nazi war criminals and protecting the history of the Holocaust, Pick does not refrain from painting her subject as egotistical, inconsiderate, and "unsuited to teamwork." As a young man, Wiesenthal seemed headed for a career as an architect. The war changed everything. Pick provides some psychological clues to Wiesenthal's obsession with preserving Holocaust memory, including the trauma he felt at not being there when his mother was seized. His photographic memory, facility with languages, and tenacity combined with uncanny luck to preserve him from firing squads and crematoria lines (he spent time in 13 concentration camps), place him with an American war crimes unit after the war and, eventually, on the world stage, where he did battle with the likes of Adolf Eichmann, Dr. Josef Mengele, the Israeli Mossad, the Vatican, other Nazi hunters, the World Jewish Congress, and Bruno Kreisky. Providing a moving glimpse into the private life of this international icon, Pick quotes wife Cyla complaining, "I am not married to a man. I am married to thousands, or maybe millions of dead."

There is no more disturbing memory for the West than that of the genocidal atrocities committed in WW II, and no more disturbing—and decorated—guardian of this memory than the complex man depicted here.

From Barnes & Noble
The story of Simon Wiesenthal's mission, including his troubled relationship with his adopted Austria, his celebrated Nazi-hunting & fight against Holocaust amnesia, & his search for justice, fairness, integrity, & human rights. B&W photos.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781555532734
  • Publisher: Northeastern University Press
  • Publication date: 8/8/1996
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 6.43 (w) x 9.54 (h) x 1.36 (d)

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