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War and Genocide: A Concise History of the Holocaust (Critical Issues in World and International History)

War and Genocide: A Concise History of the Holocaust (Critical Issues in World and International History) [Paperback]

Doris L. Bergen (Author)
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews) Like (1)

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Book Description

October 23, 2002 0847696316 978-0847696314
In examining one of the defining events of the 20th century, Doris Bergen situates the Holocaust in its historical, political, social, cultural, and military contexts. Unlike many other treatments of the Holocaust, War and Genocide: A Concise History of the Holocaust discusses not only the persecution of the Jews, but also other segments of society victimized by the Nazis: Gypsies, Homosexuals, Poles, Soviet POWs, the Handicapped, and other groups deemed undesirable. With clear and eloquent prose, Bergen explores the two interconnected goals that drove the Nazi program of conquest and genocide--purification of the so-called Aryan race and expansion of its living space-and discusses how these goals affected the course of World War II. Including first hand accounts from perpetrators, victims, and eyewitnesses, the book is immediate, human, and eminently readable.

Editorial Reviews


With exceptional succinctness and clarity, Doris Bergen provides the reader with a wealth of information, a series of illuminating individual experiences, and judicious commentary. (Browning, Christopher )

Easily the best concise history of the Holocaust available; an ideal introduction to an enormously complex and challenging subject. Doris Bergen integrates the latest findings of Holocaust scholarship into an exceptionally well-written analysis of the key events and issues. No other Holocaust survey so effectively examines the persecution and murder of the Jews within the broader contexts of World War Two, Nazi territorial expansionism in Eastern Europe, and Nazi measures targeted at homosexuals, the disabled, Sinti/Roma, Slavs, and other groups. (Alan E. Steinweis )

War and Genocide provides a splendid, easy-to-read introduction to a complex, sometimes contentious, and shattering subject. Balanced and fair-minded, this book is highly recommended both for students of the subject and for interested general readers. (Michael Marrus )

Does the Holocaust's immensity mean that a concise history of that event is impossible? Doris Bergen, a meticulous scholar who writes with unusual clarity and precision, admirably shows that the answer is no. Wisely situating the Holocaust in the context of World War II, insightfully organizing her account around Nazi Germany's lethal quest for racial purity and territorial conquest, her War and Genocide provides an overview as brilliant and reliable as it is compact. Anyone who struggles to fathom the Holocaust's deep darkness will benefit from reading this well-crafted and much-needed book. (Roth, John K. )

War and Genocide may be a concise history of the Holocaust, but it covers a lot of contextual ground and in a clear, insightful, sensitive, and compelling manner. Doris Bergen writes about the genocide of the Jews, without neglecting the persecution, enslavement, and murder of millions of other victims of the Nazis in Europe during World War II and the Holocaust. She has done educators, students, and scholars a great service. (Dr. Carol Rittner, R.S.M. )

Doris Bergen's study is the best concise treatment of the Holocaust to date. Her book is approachable for both beginning students learning about the genocide, and for advanced students who are looking for a high quality synthesis. Bergen tells the story in a compelling way that weaves the latest research into a fascinating narrative that makes the Holocaust more understandable for all readers. Her inquiry views the Holocaust from many different perspectives and will add to anyone's knowledge of the Shoah. Bergen has a wonderful knack for including poignant testimony with relevant analysis to make this horrifying experience more comprehensible. This book will certainly become the standard text for Holocaust courses. (Glenn Sharfman )

One of the most accomplished teachers of the Holocaust has written a brilliant incentive for anyone considering the daunting task of launching or improving a college course on the subject. With expert conciseness, Bergen presents a thoughtful overview of the issues and their place in recent literature. She gives us a judicious analysis rich with compassionate narratives of human experience, at once a tough account of this unique past and a meditation on its contemporary relevance. This is a courageous effort to remember--and to face the consequences. Bergen’s book is a corrective to many existing accounts, confronting the reader not just with the sickening or sensationalized history, but with the question of why Hitler was such a big hit in Germany as well as in the popular media all around us today. (Nathan Stoltzfus )

Doris Bergen encapsulates this complex history with intelligence and insight. She has written a sure and fluid introduction to the Holocaust. (Daniel Jonah Goldhagen )

Doris Bergen's War and Genocide: A Concise History of the Holocaust offers a view of the Holocaust that balances academic rigor, recent scholarship, and student accessibility. It provides a superb foundation for students to understand the complexity of the historical record and historiography of the Holocaust. (Jeffrey Myers )

In this brief survey, which is clearly written for an undergraduate audience, Bergen does an excellent job of introducing nearly all of the major issues surrounding the Holocaust. Copiously illustrated with photographs and maps, this succinct book is remarkably comprehensive, making it unusually accessible to nonexperts. Highly recommended. (Choice Magazine )

In eight well-written and concise chapters, the book examines the relationship between anti-Semitic ideology, an ever radicalizing Nazi revolution, Nazi aggression, the Euthanasia Program and the murder of the Jews. Again this is a book that will find its place on the bookshelves of most Holocaust scholars and should be included in any Holocaust library. (Jewish Book World )

Balances necessary content with analysis. Bergen clearly argues the intimate connections between war and genocide in a way that's accessible to undergraduates. (Robinson Yost )

An excellent shorter work on the Third Reich and the Holocaust for general readers. (Allan A. Ryan )

Excellent, concise, searching – a fine text for introducing students to the history of and moral questions surrounding the Holocaust. Of particular value are the suggestions for further reading and reflection. (Stuart Liebman )

About the Author

Doris L. Bergen is Chancellor Rose and Ray Wolfe Professor of Holocaust Studies at the University of Toronto.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (October 23, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0847696316
  • ISBN-13: 978-0847696314
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.8 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #432,423 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brief but comprehensive November 29, 2004
Dr. Doris L. Bergen has been a history professor since 1991 at University of Vermont and the University of Notre Dame. Her research and written works on Nazism, the Third Reich, Christian antisemitism, and the Volksdeutschen have made her especially qualified to write this brief history of the Holocaust. There is no specific mention of any direct or familial involvement with the Second World War (Bergen 263). War & Genocide: A Concise History of the Holocaust has an extensive bibliography which covers the entire spectrum on this topic, including general and specialized secondary research, official records, and firsthand accounts in the form of diaries and journals.

While unbiased accounts are the goal in historical research, it is extraordinarily difficult to be without an anti-Nazi bias when writing on the Holocaust. Such a traumatic event in the course of human affairs is inherently and undeniably emotional. A dispassionate account of the Holocaust would not only be uninteresting, it would be inappropriate on many important levels. Bergen uses her talents of discretion to balance the work by making it accessible on an emotional level to even serious students of history while not letting her anti-Nazi bias destroy the validity of her research.

The book is intended to be a concise history of the larger events of the Nazi takeover of Europe and their extermination of "undesirables." Bergen accomplishes this by describing the major and pertinent events of the period with minimal digression. She also keeps the events of the Holocaust in context of the larger context of the war in such a way that the reader is not lost in the details. This book attempts to give a human face to the atrocities committed by human beings on their fellow men, women, and children; it attempts to give a palpable understanding of the driving forces that made ordinary men into murderers and monsters; and it attempts to make the reader pause and reflect on this nightmarish catastrophe in an attempt to keep such a Holocaust from happening again.

This book describes the origins and policies of the National Socialist German Workers Party (Nazi) and is careful to display evidence that their rise to power was far from inevitable. According to Bergen, the Nazis didn't pick new or arbitrary groups to focus their hatred on, instead they "reflected and built on prejudices that were familiar" in pre-Nazi Germany (1). The book exposes the friendly forces in the Weimar government that contributed to Hitler's ride by pushing aside the laws that could have stopped the Nazi party. These laws that "were simply not enforced" (48) allowed Adolf Hitler, an Austrian convicted of treason, to escape a serious jail sentence, become a German citizen, and run for president. Bergen claims "Without Hitler, Nazism, World War II, and the Holocaust would have taken very different forms, if they had occurred at all" (31). In the course of supporting these claims, the book follows the events that destroyed tens of millions of lives. This book uses many highly personalized accounts of victims like Anne Frank, who hid in Amsterdam for two years, and of perpetrators like Adolf Eichmann, Hitler's expert in the transportation and deportation of Jews, to keep the book's personal focus.

War & Genocide was thoroughly researched and has a wealth of factual and statistical information that is vital in understanding the enormity of the atrocities of the war. The information was used with considerable discretion to promote the flow of the narrative. Bergen doesn't spare the reader from graphic accounts of killing and violence except for the most gruesome of details. The book is suitable as an introduction to the Holocaust because of its breadth of focus and narrative flow. The author's conclusions are strongly supported and are very much her own. She lets her own research and experience guide conclusions that often differ from some traditionally accepted rationalizations. She is weak on some of her conclusions regarding personal decisions and motivations of the perpetrators, instead leaving the reader to decide whether or not the evidence available supports their actions. I did not necessarily agree with all of Bergen's conclusions, especially concerning the personal motivations of individual Nazis. While the book did not include much new information, it made me reconsider some of my previously held notions.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars exceptionally useful and moving October 7, 2003
By A Customer
This is an exceptionally useful and moving textbook on the Third Reich, World War Two, and the Holocaust. My students' response in an upper-level course on German history was outright enthusiastic. The range of aspects covered in this volume is impressive: we learn about the wider European cultural-ideological context as well as about specifically German preconditions for Nazi policies; the author discusses internal developments in the Third Reich as well as the international repercussions of war and genocide. Perhaps most important, Bergen confronts the difficult moral questions of these devastating and dramatic events. This is one of the most intelligent and helpful treatments of this topic. Bergen's writing sets new standards for clarity when relating complex historical developments.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Helpful overview for students of the Holocaust September 17, 2007
This is a great little book for anyone who wants a concise but detailed and interesting overview of the Holocaust. It is easy to read, well laid out, and provides enough historical information for students and the general public alike. Any high school or college student who is studying modern European history will find this extremely useful.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Informative; Unbiased
This is one of the best Holocaust texts that I have read. Bergen does not waste space making her own assumptions; she presents an unbiased view toward the events, tells them in... Read more
Published 5 months ago by KelleyM
5.0 out of 5 stars Understated but Overwhelming
About a third of the way through Doris Bergen's book War & Genocide, I began to realize that it had the emotionally neutral tone and linear organization of a conventional textbook. Read more
Published 5 months ago by not a natural
5.0 out of 5 stars war and genocide
this type of book is important to remind the world that such a thing happened. it shows how much hate one people can have for another and how far they are willing to go to... Read more
Published 10 months ago by david
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Book
This is a very good and informative book on the holocaust. It reads like a text book and is full of tidbits of information on subjects associated with the holocaust. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Steve
5.0 out of 5 stars this is a fine book
Professor Bergen has really written an outstanding short account of the Holocaust. "Concise" is exactly right. But this book is thorough, too. Read more
Published on February 7, 2010 by chicagoreader
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book that thoroughly describes the preconditions, the...
I bought this book because it was a requirement for my German history class at college. If I had excess funds I would probably not think twice about buying this book even if it... Read more
Published on January 21, 2010 by Christopher Michael Gallo
4.0 out of 5 stars War and Genocide: A Concice History of the Holosaust
The item I purchase was in great condition and was sent to me within a reasonable time frame which I appreciate.
Published on October 13, 2008 by Jessica A. Lee
4.0 out of 5 stars Holocaust History
A very detailed chronology of the events leading upto, during and after the Holocaust in Europe.
Published on July 12, 2008 by Sugar-free cook
4.0 out of 5 stars Thoughts on Doris Bergin's "War and Genocide....."
I thought that the book was exactly what it said it was, namely, "A Concise History of the Holocaust." My only problem with it was that it was a little too concise. Read more
Published on November 3, 2006 by Jonathan A. Ney
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