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review 2017-11-24 16:26
Unresolved conflict
Ghost Waltz: A Family Memoir - Ingeborg Day

I read Ghost Waltz: A Family Memoir by Ingeborg Day on recommendation from a patron. She assured me that I would love it and that it was right up my alley as it was a nonfiction book that covered events from WWII. What hooked me into reading it was that it was covering the events of WWII from the perspective of someone who was on the 'other side' aka the Nazi perspective (as opposed to the 3rd person nonfiction narrative or survivor memoir). Ingeborg wanted to uncover the secrets of her father's past and hopefully work out exactly what his role was as a member of the Nazi Party and SS. She revisited old memories of times spent living in shared accommodation with other families, rationing, and the charged silence around the dinner table. She continually reiterated that she had no memories of her parents ever saying anything about Jewish people or showing any violence whatsoever toward anyone...and yet the undertones of the book were very anti-Semitic. I honestly found this a very uncomfortable book to read especially considering that she seemed to vacillate on her own beliefs and feelings towards those who were slaughtered en masse while her father served as a member of the Nazi party. (Her conflicting beliefs made this a very disjointed read.) For those interested in knowing just what his role was and his innermost beliefs, you will be sorely disappointed. There is no clear cut conclusion to be found among the pages of Ghost Waltz. The author herself couldn't seem to work out her own feelings much less those of a man who she had no contact with as an adult (there was an event after she left home which led to a rift). This wasn't my favorite read of the year for multiple reasons but mostly for those stated above: anti-Semitic sentiment and unsatisfactory conclusion. It's a 2/10 for me. :-/

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2016-07-10 11:30
Apartment 16 - Adam Nevill

I was disappointed with this book. The only thing that made me finish it was curiosity but you know what they say about that! The author was out to shock and nothing more. I didn't feel any tension or fear whilst reading it and I certainly won't be in a hurry to read it again, or buy any more books of his. I read The Ritual a while back and enjoyed it which made this one that much more disappointing. Pity.

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review 2015-10-11 13:14
Hitler - Ian Kershaw

'He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you.' - Friedrich Nietzsche.


I've studied Nazi Germany for years through my courses at university, college and High school, but also as an interest in my own free time. I think the Nietzsche quote has been one that has always stuck with me for this very reason. I watched a Kershaw interview recently on YouTube, in it he was asked if he ever became desensitized to the horrors of the Nazi regime through decades of research. He responded that he did not. But for me that has always something that has been in the back of my mind a little. I've spent a lot of time studying horrific regimes. Inevitably when writing long essays on such things you come across sections of material with particularly harrowing stories of famine, torture and death. 


These studies have definitely shaped my views on humanity and what people are capable of. When you look at some of the worst things people have done, it is hard not to have your world view impacted. At the same time I tend to put a positive light onto it. It sheds away any naivety you might have about the world around you. I don't ever regret studying heavy topics or history in general. Without it I would not have the depth of world knowledge or the critical mind that a lot of other people simply don't have.

With that in mind I'll kick off this review of Ian Kershaw's Hitler, by simply stating that if any of you have an interest in Hitler or the Nazi era, this is a must read. I think this is the first time I've ever used the word masterpiece to describe anything. This is the culmination of one man's knowledge, learnt through decades of research into Nazism. Every section is painstakingly structured yet written in a way that is not only easy to read, but genuinely gripping. I think this is the best we're ever going to get.


One of the problems with studying this era is that the person and the actions he orchestrated are almost unimaginable. The Second World War and the holocaust are only 70 years in the past and yet the Europe of today seems an absolute far cry from the conditions that allowed Hitler and his party to rise to power and conduct such horrors. You kind of sit there at first and go wait a minute; this is something that happened pretty recently?


What this book does so well is to strip down the pantomime and the over dramatizations of his character and show us who the man actually was. It suggests what might have motivated him; how it was he came to be that person and what his personality was like. The result is that Hitler becomes very real. The villain is cast aside and you delve deep into the persona of the human being.


The downside of the book is that so little is known about Hitler's early life that even though it is still insightful and meticulous, we will probably never know for sure what it was that made Hitler such a pathological, anti-Semite. There are theories of course, but as he goes on to say in this biography, there is nothing concrete enough to conclude definitively what it was that shaped Hitler in this way. This is probably the last great burning question I have with regards to Hitler. What was it that made you so hateful? So unrelenting in the lengths of which you'd go to in order to annihilate Jews?


But ultimately that's not a statement to take away from what is totally an insightful masterpiece. My understanding of the man and the regime has progressed massively through reading Kershaw's account of Hitler's life. If a book can still give you a fresh perspective on a topic that you've studied for years, then you know it is an important one. In a perfect world this would be something that everyone who studies the Nazi regime at any level reads. It is that accessible and that insightful.  

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review 2014-04-01 00:00
Monsters in the Mirror: Representations of Nazism in Post-War Popular Culture
Monsters in the Mirror: Representations of Nazism in Post-War Popular Culture - Sara Buttsworth,Maartje Abbenhuis This compilation of essays provides looks at the seedy underbelly of Western/American popular culture. Each author examines how a twisted portrayal of Nazis in popular culture has become an industry standard within their own area of expertise, from the 60s era torture porns to current mainstream outlets. There seems to be no end of WWII coverage in the United States, but this collection offers a different approach. Rather than making a case for the historical accuracy or inaccuracy of the characters and events they portray, the authors examine these tropes as products of their time - pieces of our culture that reflect the anxieties and atmospheres from which they came. There is no doubt that the works in question are sleazy (at best), so the question is not an argument over their artistic merit, but what their existence means. Why do we keep recreating and exploiting the atrocities of the WWII? Is there a pattern? What does it say about us? Those are the questions at the heart of this collection.

Taken as a whole, Monsters in the Mirror makes up one of the first published works that attempts to draw on all aspects of mass media to create a fuller picture of the pervasiveness of this Nazi image. These essays cover five main genres – literature analysis, sexual theory, the study of pornography, mainstream film analysis, and fashion studies. That said, I found some more interesting than others, but I suspect that’s dependant on your own personal interests. I used many of the essays to support my grad school thesis while others had little to do with my topic (and I didn’t spend much time on them). While the coverage is far from exhaustive, it is notable for providing a new approach to what is probably the most heavily covered topic in US history. Read as a starting point for further research, this collection is quite impressive and, I’m sure, controversial.
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review 2011-02-12 00:00
Black Sun: Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism, and the Politics of Identity - Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke This is a fairly good book, a rapid (rather than sustained) review of a wide range of figures and far-right phenomena (internationally): from Rockwell to occult nazism (Savitri Devi and Miguel Serrano) to Christian Identity, Odinism, and New World Order ('Illuminati') conspiracies. Helpfully, the book is well bibliographed. Goodrick-Clark is always sober, and authoritative. This book forms, as I said before, a good compliment to Gregor's richer (but somewhat quirkier -- I never cease to be amazed by his defense of the Salò Republic!):
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3045620.The_Search_for_Neofascism. About the only overlap between the two books is Julius Evola -- As Gregor himself started life as a devotee of Evola, his account is more authoritative; Goodrick-Clarke's is much easier to read, though.
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