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Publisher's Summary

Ordinary Men is the true story of Reserve Police Batallion 101 of the German Order Police, which was responsible for mass shootings as well as roundups of Jewish people for deportation to Nazi death camps in Poland in 1942. Browning argues that most of the men of RPB 101 were not fanatical Nazis but, rather, ordinary middle-aged working-class men who committed these atrocities out of a mixture of motives, including the group dynamics of conformity, deference to authority, role adaptation, and the altering of moral norms to justify their actions. Very quickly three groups emerged within the battalion: a core of eager killers, a plurality who carried out their duties reliably but without initiative, and a small minority who evaded participation in the acts of killing without diminishing the murderous efficiency of the battalion whatsoever.

While this book discusses a specific Reserve Unit during WWII, the general argument Browning makes is that most people succumb to the pressures of a group setting and commit actions they would never do of their own volition. Ordinary Men is a powerful, chilling, and important work with themes and arguments that continue to resonate today.

©2013 Christopher R. Browning (P)2017 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

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Necessary Information

This, along with "The Rape of Nanking" and "Gulag Archipelago" should be read by every human.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Cold, but poignant

Insightful and jarring. A testament to the potential for evil within us all, as well as a warning of the price of Silence and passivity in everyday life.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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A sobering and important reminder of the devil inside us all.

Skillfully written and meticulous researched, the author argues and answers counter arguments with tenacity yet dispassion. An important message for all mankind to remind us that a brutal concentration guard resides in us all should we but allow it room to grow. The narrator is superb and I would listen to him read the phone book with rapt attention.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • robert
  • heber, UT, United States
  • 05-12-18

Chilling implications

The author does a fine job. His describing of a group of middle aged rent a cops and their descent into barbarism is chilling. He validates the idea that there is evil in almost everyone. The book doesn't give an antidote to this problem, for that I'd highly recommend Jordan Peterson's 12 rules book. I just finished a 14 hour day and listening to this made it more enjoyable,.... or suck less. get it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Very detailed, would recommend.

Great book, very descriptive when descibing events/battles/photographs. Maybe could have used a better reader, but overall well worth the buy. Would recommend

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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A painful journey into your soul

As you listen to Ordinary Men, you will be forced to reflect on your life, your choices, and wonder how you would have acted, had you been in the position of the German police. You had been ordered to “liquidate” the Jews. You will be forced to come to the truth, kicking and screaming. That truth is that you would have carried out your orders and shot countless innocents. It’s horrifying.

The book is well read and organized in a way that makes it easy to follow events.

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Excellent!

This was an in-depth historical account and the afterward thoroughly addresses agreements and disputes b/t Goldhagen and Browning. It would be great to have a more concise boiled-down bullet point summary of what they agree and disagree on.

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A must read/listen

A very heavy book, but one of those books that everyone should read. Very important to understand this part of history and Browning does an excellent job leading the reader through this portion of WWII.

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Loved it!

Narrator was great. Really interesting read. Definitely worth the money and time. Plus, it speaks to us about something we all really know deep down inside.

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Wonderful

This is a wonderful book to read to allow you to peer into how humanity can easily turn to its worst side. That almost anyone can be a perpetrator in some form. This book goes into great detail and is exceptionally easy to listen to.