The Holocaust is the defining event of the twentieth century and perhaps all of modern history. Yet for too long, we have ignored the vital question of how and why such a monstrous event could have happened at all. Now, in How Could This Happen, historian Dan McMillan distills the existing Holocaust research into a cogent explanation of the genocide’s causes, revealing how a once progressive society like Germany could commit murder on such a massive scale. Countless barriers stand between stable societies and genocide, McMillan explains, but in Germany these buffers began to topple well before World War II. From Hitler’s meteoric rise to deep-rooted European anti-Semitism to the dehumanizing effects of World War I, McMillan uncovers the many factors that made the Holocaust possible.
Persuasive and compelling, How Could This Happen illustrates how a perfect storm of bleak circumstances, malevolent ideas, and societal upheaval unleashed history’s most terrifying atrocity.
©2014 Dan McMillan (P)2014 Audible Inc.
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There just isn’t an answer... and I think that’s part of what makes it such an intriguing subject to learn about. It just boggles the mind. It’s scary to think that something like this is possible – still possible; call me a cynic but I don’t think humanity is immune from a repeat.
Paraphrasing myself from another book review: Institutionalized racism is insidious. What starts off as a guideline (often times misguided) for the alleged benefit of the community can quickly devolve into an us versus them mentally, pitting people against each other and stirring up violence and hatred and intolerance. It scares me how people don’t see a slippery slope when it’s staring them in the face. Charter of Values in Quebec anyone?
This book presents a lot of interesting ideas of how culture and history mixed over the years to create the right conditions for the Holocaust, and it does puts forward some very plausible causes, but in the end I think it’s the ultimate unanswerable question.
Dan McMillan has combined history, philosophy and psychology into a comprehensive, well researched and extremely informative book that touches on every plausible explanation of the Nazi Holocaust. It deserved a lot better than Robert Blumenfeld's rapid, uninspired narration.
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