“For anyone interested in an unglossed World War II history, Cruel World is a must read. . . . A historical gem.” —The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
“A thoroughly researched and incisively written account. . . . This is not merely another book about the Holocaust, although the Holocaust is the most glaring event in these pages. Cruel World is more shocking and upsetting than any book that deals with ‘only’ one persecution.”—The Washington Post Book World
“A well-written, compelling history that makes us look at the war era anew.” —Publishers Weekly (starred)
“Powerful, passionate. . . . The combination of the authoritative overview with the searing detail makes this an invaluable reference source as well as riveting history.”—Booklist
"Passionate, powerful, riveting,"
—Hazel Rochman, starred review for Booklist
"Compelling history that makes us look at the war anew,"
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
"This book is an extraordinary achievement, particularly because, although the author's theme is Europe’s children, she is in fact, with astonishing research, writing a new history of World War II. And remarkably, in writing about the children, she does - as one might expect - write not only about their suffering, but also about their joys."
“A work of impressive scholarship . . . Cruel World is a historical gem. For anyone interested in an unglossed WWII history, it is a must read. It revives memories that the world forgets at its peril.”
—Jackie Loohauis, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
". . .a thoroughly researched and incisively written account of horrendous crime, suffering , folly, and indifference, as well as of heroism, sacrifice, and the will to survive . . . Cruel World's originality lies in its broad sweepmore shocking and upsetting than any book that deals with 'only' one persecution. By broadening her scope to include every affected nationality . . . Nicholas makes us aware how children across Europe were caught up in the Nazis' cruelty."
—Ruth Kluger, Washington Post Book World
Cruel World ends with an account of the misery that followed the end of the war, when even huge repatriation efforts could not accommodate those whose parents were dead and who had nowhere to go to. Anyone who assumes that powerful adults are bound to come to the aid of helpless children will be sorely disabused by this book.
The Washington Post
Nicholas's acclaimed The Rape of Europa helped galvanize the return of Nazi-looted art. While this work is unlikely to have such practical impact, it demonstrates a similar breadth of research and historical compassion. She looks at the effect of Nazi policies on children as a recounting of the nonmilitary story of WWII. Casting a wide net, Nicholas examines such phenomena as the Kindertransports-in which Jewish children were brought from central Europe to England on the eve of the war-and the transport of supposedly "Aryan" Norwegian girls to Germany to breed. Nicholas shows how the Nazis tried, with varying degrees of success, to export their eugenic theories and racist ideology to the educational realm throughout occupied Europe. And focusing on the homeland of the Third Reich, she delineates how German children were socialized into Nazi culture. Relying on a prodigious amount of primary and secondary sources as well as interviews, she emphasizes the resilience of the young. "Most of Europe's children would, in the next few years, develop a self-protective shell of voyeurism and casualness toward the monstrous events around them." But as she notes in conclusion, the horrors of the war years stayed with those who saw them through young eyes. At times, Nicholas loses her focus, retelling the much-told story of the war itself. But there is no doubt that she has put together a well-written, compelling history that makes us look at the war era anew. 39 photos, 3 maps. (May 14) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Lynn Nicholas's first book on a Holocaust-related subject, Rape of Europa, won awards and helped change history: it intensified the search for art looted by the Nazis. Her second volume on the subject may not move events, but it is a wonderful and remarkable book. By focusing on the Nazis' impact on children, she's found a way to take familiar topics and make them fresh, illuminating and newly horrifying. While the topic might seem limited at first glance, its scope really is huge. Nicholas covers eugenics, euthanasia and German education, occupations all across Europe and, of course, the politics and mechanics of extermination. But there's more: liberation, repatriation and, finally, the defeated German families and their children. The book's breadth is impressive, but beyond her prodigious research, it's Nicholas's eye for detail, her insight and sense of balance and proportion, that make the book a treasure. Also, it is well organized (easy to follow for student researchers), thoughtfully indexed, and has a few well-selected small photographs. While this is a lengthy, dense scholarly work with small print, it is clearly written and provides a wonderfully telescopic view of the lived impact of the Nazi era. A must for any Holocaust collection. KLIATT Codes: SA--Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2005, Random House, Anchor, 632p. illus. notes. bibliog. index., $17.95.. Ages 15 to adult.
Although numerous studies examine Nazi racial policy and its implementation, independent scholar Nicholas deftly focuses her attention on how the application of these ideas affected the lives of children. Nicholas begins with an examination of how Nazi eugenics policies led to the killing of thousands of children deemed unworthy of life. She then moves into a discussion of the experience of refugee children, noting in particular the difficulty German Jewish and Austrian Jewish children had in reaching safety. Nicholas's analysis of how Nazi policy was applied in those areas conquered by Germany is particularly adept, especially in the chapter that juxtaposes the Russian and Greek experiences. One of the book's virtues, along with the depth of its research, is Nicholas's ability to maintain a narrative thread over a variety of nations, reaching from German-dominated Europe to the United States. Perhaps the best chapter is "Total War," where Nicholas links Goebbels's 1943 proclamation, which committed Germany to fighting until the bitter end, with a synthesis of the various aspects of the war that involved children. The chapter thus takes the book's diffuse subjects and molds them into a master narrative that is chilling in its detail. Recommended for all libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 1/05.]-Frederic Krome, Jacob Rader Marcus Ctr. of the American Jewish Archives, Cincinnati Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.