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Publisher's Summary

In KL, Wachsmann fills this glaring gap in our understanding. He not only synthesizes a new generation of scholarly work, much of it untranslated and unknown outside of Germany, but also presents startling revelations, based on many years of archival research, about the functioning and scope of the camp system. Examining, close up, life and death inside the camps, and adopting a wider lens to show how the camp system was shaped by changing political, legal, social, economic, and military forces, Wachsmann produces a unified picture of the Nazi regime and its camps that we have never seen before.

A boldly ambitious work of deep importance, KL is destined to be a classic in the history of the 20th century. Many books have explored the general history of the Holocaust and the Nazis, or anatomized individual concentration camps. But there has, surprisingly, never been a comprehensive history of the camps that integrates the stories of both the broad development of the system and daily life in the camps. In KL (the widely used acronym for konzentrationslager, German for concentration camps), Wachsmann offers an unprecedented account of the development of the camps, similar in scope and approach to Anne Applebaum's best-selling and award-winning Gulag: A History (2003). We will publish on the 70th anniversary of the liberation of most of the camps in April 1945.

Wachsmann is the first to synthesize a new generation of original scholarship on the camps, much of it only available in German and little-known in the English-speaking world. And he has unearthed a wide range of new documents, offering startling new revelations about the history of the camps.

©2015 Original Material by Nikolaus Wachsmann (P)2015 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books

Critic Reviews

"Nikolaus Wachsmann has written an admirable historical overview of the Nazi concentration camps, effectively combining decades of recent scholarship with his own original research. He captures both the trajectory of dynamic change through which the camp system evolved as well as the experiences and agency - however limited - of the prisoner community. This is an impressive and valuable book." (Christopher R. Browning, Frank Porter Graham Professor of History Emeritus, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
"It is hard to imagine that Nik Wachsmann's superb book, surely to become the standard work on Nazi concentration camps, will ever be surpassed. Based on a huge array of widely scattered sources, it is a gripping as well as comprehensive and authoritative study of this grim but highly important topic." (Ian Kershaw, author of The End: The Defiance and Destruction of Hitler's Germany, 1944 – 1945)

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Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Worth every minute

What made the experience of listening to KL: A History of the Nazi Concentration Camps the most enjoyable?

This was a daunting effort: 31 hours of the history of the concentration camps. It is NOT a collection of nothing but horror stories. It clarifies and explains the three stages of the camps I, at least, had never thought about.

Who was your favorite character and why?

You don't have characters in histories: you do have personages. None of the admins of the camps are very admirable. This is, you understand, an understatement.

Have you listened to any of Paul Hodgson’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Nope, never heard any of his work. He has an interesting approach to accents. I don't know if his natural speech is German accented or not, but the entire book is done with that accent. Except for the quotations, even short ones, done with a Polish accent, or the one or two American voices done in flawless "American." It seems to be an odd choice for the narration of a history.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Good grief, no! Thirty-one hours in one sitting? Focused on German concentration camps? I listened to the whole thing over a period of a month, and was able to absorb the information. There was enough new-to-me information that I needed time to sift through it.

Any additional comments?

Wachsmann has managed to take an incredible history and make it comprehensible, a gargantuan undertaking. On the whole, beautifully done.

24 of 25 people found this review helpful

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An Oustanding History and A Must Read

This book is a remarkable achievement and if you are interested in the subject at all you will learn a great deal from it, regardless of whatever you already know, You will likely also listen to it more than once. This comprehensive history brings together the many aspects of the KL and draws from extensive German historical research that is unknown to English only readers. The narrator's attempt at voices is odd, but is hardly a reason to not purchase this book. Other narrators say "Quote" and "Unquote" at the end of a quote and some people find that distracting. I suspect the KL narrator's use of a "voice" is a way around that issue. Quotes are rare in KL anyway so it's hardly a distraction although it may catch a listener unaware the first time.

20 of 22 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Well performed, but...

This is exhaustively researched, and thorough. It adds new information and context, which seems unreal, given the number of books on this topic. That said, if you aren't a scholar it is a bit much, a seemingly endless list of abuses and massacres.

Important, to be sure, but not for the layman.

18 of 20 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Narrator warning!

I've not finished listening to this yet, but wanted to warn people thinking about buying it in advance, in case the sample doesn't make it clear. The book's amazing, probably unbeatable scholarship, and the narrator's generally good for a non-fiction reader (some of them are very bad), but he makes a really baffling decision to read all quotations - and there are many - in the accents "appropriate" to the person writing/speaking. So chilling stories are somewhat undermined by comedy German...

33 of 38 people found this review helpful

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Well done account of sad history

Excellent history of sad times in humanity's development. The statistics are sometimes overwhelming but the are necessary for understanding how widespread the evil was.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Like a textbook

This book is certainly a valuable tool, however it really dropped the ball in a lot of ways. The book has no clear path or direction and hops around from one thing to another without tying them together very well. Would be useful if you were doing a research paper but not for much else

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Ridiculous stereotypes

Where does KL: A History of the Nazi Concentration Camps rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

KL: History of the Nazi Concentration Camps is a highly interesting and well-written account of how the Nazis constructed a horrendous instrument of terror and repression.

What was one of the most memorable moments of KL: A History of the Nazi Concentration Camps?

The most memorable moments are, unfortunately, Paul Hodgson's ridiculous imitations of a German accent.

Would you be willing to try another one of Paul Hodgson’s performances?

Paul Hodgson is clearly a talented performer. Unfortunately, however, he - or someone else - has decided that he should read quotations from letters and diaries found in the book with a "German" accent. The result can only be described as utter disaster. Rather than creating a feeling of authenticity, the phony accent turns the performance into tasteless parody. The performance would have scored much higher if the performer had read the quotations in his normal voice.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Not applicable.

16 of 20 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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How to ruin a great book.

This is a great work of scholarship. That being said, it’s been handed to a narrator who treats it like Hogan’s Heros. The German accent he uses when quoting a German quote is downright embarrassing. The Heinrich biography on Audible suffers the same fate.

I have to start reading again. I truly hate a lot of these narrators. What were they thinking????!!!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Could be good...

While the story is very interesting and well written, the forced German accent whenever a German is being quoted is very irritating and unnecessary!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Excellent, but...

Any additional comments?

The book is excellent, and the narrator does a very good job with the text (although his delivery is perhaps a bit fast), but the accents he uses when reading quotations are very distracting. I found it a very strange choice to read the quotations in the speakers' native accents, not all of which the narrator can do very well, and it detracted from the overall content for me. However, the book is outstanding, and I would still recommend it to anyone interested in the topic.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful