The journey that takes Mark Jacobson around the world began when a friend bought a lamp at a rummage sale and was told that it was made from the skins of Jews. While he didn't believe the story, he sent it to Mark, saying, "You're a journalist, you figure out what it is."
After three years of research in America, Poland, Germany, and Israel, and with the assistance of forensic experts, DNA analysis, and consultations with Yad Yashem and the historical director at Buchenwald, Jacobson has investigated not only the truth of the thing itself but of the idea of it.
He also analyzes our understanding of history; of myths, facts, and evidence; and of the concept of evil. Despite extensive historical reporting of items made of human skin in eyewitness accounts from Nazi concentration camps, this is the first known discovery and investigation of such an artifact.
©2010 Mark Jacobson (P)2010 Tantor
"Provocative.... A well-executed, original reflection on how social evil tends to endure, puzzle and resist efforts at redemption." (Kirkus)
In "The Lampshade," author Mark Jacobson tells of how he obtained an artifact of the holocaust. This is stream of consciousness history at its best. In the course of telling the story of the lampshade, Jacobson details the story of the holocaust, Buchenwald concentration camp, holocaust deniers, New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina and much more. It is a fascinating journey that at times is riveting while at others is revolting. This story is definitely not for everyone and is not for the feint-hearted. Narrator Johnny Heller's easy-going style is perfect as he handles the nuances of difficult foreign names and a wide variety of accents.
I'm not sure if I should say, "Spoiler Alert" as this is not a novel or even a current event narrative with a surprise ending, but this review may give away something that the reader would rather enjoy on his or her own. This is an intriguing story about the author's attempt to place a lampshade discovered at a garage sale in Post Katrina New Orleans at Buchenwald during the Holocaust. The author does a great job in weaving background stories associated with all of the characters and locales of his book. The one thing that was a bit over the top for me was the author's treatment of George W Bush during Katrina. It got very preachy and I thought it was not necessary to the story. I'm not sure what the author was trying to put forth as a message about New Orleans itself. I couldn't tell if he thought it was a treasured gem of a city or a dump given over to drug addicts and murderers who walk around in a city where life is cheap. Whatever. But getting back to the lampshade, the author does spin a good tale that reveals very good circumstantial evidence that the lampshade is indeed a valuable primary artifact of the Holocaust. But there is no proven "chain of custody" that positively places the lampshade in Germany in the 1940's. For that reason, the recognized Holocaust museums and experts refused to accept the lampshade into their collections. Maybe DNA testing will advance someday to the point that the lampshade can be placed in a specific place and time - that is the author's hope.
Finally, the narrator was very good for this story. His voice was not the usual Audiobook narration voice, so it took me a little while to get used to it, but he did a very good job.
Strange journey (of) happenstance: There are so many weird characters and threads here that the reader want there to be a good story. The story is really about the search for a story or the promise of a story -- a story that you want to believe. The story the author wants to tell never quite closes, even within the confines of the book. This isn't really storytelling anyway, it is reporting but the loose ends never get tied up.
Depends: Certainly there is a lot to discuss in this wide-ranging book. In the end I am not sure that the payoff is there.
He nailed it: the overly self-aware, overly literate author's inner voice of motivation.
The recounting of the holocaust came the closest, but I think most readers will have previously confronted those demons, sickening though they may be.
Dark topic but so interesting and well written. Every listening session was greatly anticipated. I would definitely recommend.
This story is excellent and extremely interesting. The narration though leaves much to be desired. Most recordings owned by Tantor have poor narration quality. I own several Tantor cd books and although the stories are great their narrarators are not as good as Recorded Books, or Blackstone.
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