In this epic history of extermination and survival, Timothy Snyder presents a new explanation of the great atrocity of the 20th century and reveals the risks that we face in the 21st. Based on new sources from Eastern Europe and forgotten testimonies from Jewish survivors, Black Earth recounts the mass murder of the Jews as an event that is still close to us, more comprehensible than we would like to think and thus all the more terrifying.
The Holocaust began in a dark but accessible place, in Hitler's mind, with the thought that the elimination of Jews would restore balance to the planet and allow Germans to win the resources they desperately needed. Such a worldview could be realized only if Germany destroyed other states, so Hitler's aim was a colonial war in Europe itself. In the zones of statelessness, almost all Jews died. A few people, the righteous few, aided them, without support from institutions. Much of the new research in this book is devoted to understanding these extraordinary individuals. The almost insurmountable difficulties they faced only confirm the dangers of state destruction and ecological panic. These men and women should be emulated, but in similar circumstances few of us would do so.
By overlooking the lessons of the Holocaust, Snyder concludes, we have misunderstood modernity and endangered the future. The early 21st century is coming to resemble the early twentieth, as growing preoccupations with food and water accompany ideological challenges to global order. Our world is closer to Hitler's than we like to admit, and saving it requires us to see the Holocaust as it was - and ourselves as we are. Groundbreaking, authoritative, and utterly absorbing, Black Earth reveals a Holocaust that is not only history but warning.
©2015 Timonthy Snyder (P)2015 Random House Audio
"Timothy Snyder is now our most distinguished historian of evil. Black Earth casts new light on old darkness. It demonstrates once and for all that the destruction of the Jews was premised on the destruction of states and the institutions of politics. I know of no other historical work on the Holocaust that is so deeply alarmed by its repercussions for the human future. This is a haunted and haunting book - erudite, provocative, and unforgettable." (Leon Wieseltier)
"In this unusual and innovative book, Timothy Snyder takes a fresh look at the intellectual origins of the Holocaust, placing Hitler's genocide firmly in the politics and diplomacy of 1930s Europe. Black Earth is required reading for anyone who cares about this difficult period of history." (Anne Applebaum)
"Timothy Snyder's bold new approach to the Holocaust links Hitler's racial worldview to the destruction of states and the quest for land and food. This insight leads to thought-provoking and disturbing conclusions for today's world. Black Earth uses the recent past's terrible inhumanity to underline an urgent need to rethink our own future." (Ian Kershaw)
completely new perspective
Wow. Just…wow. I completely misunderstood what this book was going to be about. I first heard the author as a participant in a discussion of some of the current ISIL/Syria/Iraq issues on the radio. The references to the book intrigued me, so I picked it up. I thought it was going to be using facts and details behind the Holocaust as a parallel to better understand todays fun.
Wrong. Absototalutely freaking wrong. Black Earth is a deep dive into the political maneuverings that went on in Europe leading up to (and including, although not in as much detail) World War II, specifically dealing with the Holocaust. Yup, fun reading.
This was unlike any reading I’ve discovered on the topic. First of all, I actually almost understand (yeah, that sounds freaky) where some of the delusional mindsets of Hitler came from. And why it resonated so successfully with so many people who could still (I can only assume) look themselves in the mirror each day.
Also the details behind the concepts of states and statelessness. In the case of countries that were conquered (but the “state” survived), the numbers of people killed, though tragic by any rational measure, were relatively low. But in countries where the “state” was completely destroyed (Poland for all purposes as a state ceased to exist for much of the war) almost all Jews were put to death. The author makes an interesting case that the removal of the “state” removes some of the restrictions of our base instincts. The number of people put to death within Germany itself, as an example, is significantly lower than Poland. And the number of non-Germans directly involved with the killing cannot be ignored (though I think we try).
We also tend to think of Nazis (and Hitler) as absolutely planned to a T, with his “Final Solution” in place from day one. On this topic the author points out many times where the plans of Hitler were of smaller “solutions” or conquests, but was driven in different directions by fate and miscalculation.
We all love to claim we would never do these things. We’d never turn neighbors into the police so we can claim their apartments. We’d never trick people into gathering so they can be shot. We’d never turn children away from our door when they were hiding from certain death.
But if the government was gone…completely gone? And food was scarce? And what passes for security can arrest, convict and imprison you (or worse) at the drop of a hat?
But the fact is, given the right circumstances, I suspect most of us would.
Many of us Americans (and sadly I have to include myself) love to talk a good talk. We’d never…we wouldn’t let…there’s no way we could…
But if we honestly look at how we rise to the occasion when there’s little or no risk? I dunno.
The book is split into really 4 sections. The rise of the Nazi party (and the concepts that rose with), the early years of the war, some anecdotal stories of courage, and some parallels for today. By far and away the strength of the book lies in the first two parts, although the rest was useful as well. The final section was a bit on the opinionated side, but not overly so.
All told, a difficult, disturbing and brilliant read.
With the Holocaust slowly passing from living memory into the mists of the past, this book is essential reading for anyone interested in understanding one of the most cataclysmic and prolonged bursts of violence in human history.
Regarding the performance of the narrator -- it was pitch perfect. The reading was clear and straightforward -- letting the subject matter speak for itself. It's challenging when there are so many names, places, and phrases that may be hard to pronounce for a native English-speaker but Mark Bramhall invariably makes the correct (or at least non-jarring) choice every time.
Worth listening to a second time.
Though provoking thesis of the roots and reason for the Holocaust, the destruction of states, explains the reason why an Auchwitz was not built in France or Austria. Chilling similarity of the two totalitarian regimes and their body counts.
A very detailed and well researched history of the Holocaust. Sometimes it became difficult to hear of so much murder and destruction. What I did like was the very personal stories of individuals whose lives were lost and those that were saved. Clearly some very brave individuals risked much to save fellow human beings
It was sometimes difficult to follow his point of view and I wish it had been more clearly and simply expressed. In the end it seems the point of this lengthy review of the Holocaust is that we need to be cautious, because this could happen again
Great history and analysis. The conclusion was very disappointing as it focuses on warmist ideology to excuse the Islamic terror and focuses on Iraq versus the recent double destruction of the state in Syria to create Isis.
the last chapter is of a fable called climate change and the author attempts to say that if you don't believe in climate change you're like Hitler
I would have liked it if the author cited more sources for some of the claims he makes.
Ralph Cosham, perhaps?
The author presents some very interesting and thought provoking concepts but the lack of backing citations somewhat blunts the presentation. The narrator left much to be desired, almost ruined the book for me :(
Report Inappropriate Content