Journal, Book and Film Overviews

This page includes book overviews and short technical papers on topics of interest to educators who teach about the Holocaust and other genocide and ethnocide-related issues. Educators or students interested in publishing to our journal should contact Ray Wolpow. Thank you.

The overviews on this page are alphabetically arranged by the author of the work's last name.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Click on a title to read the full version

Al Jundi, S., Marlowe, J. (2011). The Hour of Sunlight: One Palestinian’s Journey from Prisoner to Peacekeeper. New York, NY: Nation Books. Overview by Tabitha Hall.

  • The Hour of Sunlight is the story of Sami Al Jundi’s life in Jerusalem and his struggle as he watches conflict escalate within his community. It is a valuable text that shares Palestinian history and culture. Through his words, the reader learns about the Jewish occupation of his parents’ villages, the tensions that arose with the first Intifada, and the stories that the Palestinian children believed. Hearing that friends of his had been shot, and bearing witness to the rising tensions between the Palestinians and Israelis, Al Jundi struggled to find a way to honor his roots and help bring change. When his childhood friends joined the Fatah, they and Al Jundi looked to acts of violent uprising as their key tool for making their struggle heard and seen. He was aware of the conflict between his strength as a student and his own need to join a political group.

 

Bain, A., Marlowe, J., and Shapiro, A. (Directors and Producers). (2006). Darfur diaries: message from home. [DVD]. New York: Cinema Libre Distribution.
-and-
Marlowe, J. with Bain, A. and Shapiro, A. (2006). Darfur diaries: stories of survival. New York: Nation Books.
Film Review by Nicole Trecker
 

  • Disappointed by mainstream media’s insufficient coverage of the escalating humanitarian crisis in Darfur, three filmmakers set out in October 2004 to film a documentary in which Darfurians could share their thoughts, fears, and hopes about the current genocide. They interviewed refugees in the camps of eastern Chad and traveled through northwestern Darfur to film one destroyed village after another. Teachers, students, parents, SLA soldiers, and other members of the community shared their stories. The filmmakers’ intent was not to tell the world what is happening in Darfur, but to provide an opportunity for Darfurians to do so using their own words. Upon their return to the U.S., the three spent the next year and a half sifting through their notes and film footage, creating this 260-page book and 57-minute documentary.

 

Balakian, Peter. (2003). The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America's Response. Book Overview by James Lehman.
 

  • In this book Balakian provides an in depth look at the Armenian Genocide, often been referred to as the “forgotten genocide” of the 20th century. This book is divided into two parts. The first examines the foreign policy of the United States regarding the Armenian genocide, the second examines why, when, where, and what tragic events took place in Turkey between 1894 to the present day.

 

Bashir, Halima. & Lewis, Damien. (2008). Tears of the desert: A Memoir of Survival in Darfur. London: Hodder & Stoughton.

  • Tears of the Desert details Halima Bashir's eyewitness account of death and suffering in her village and country. She also describes her experience with female genital mutilation as a child and her memory of a vicious attack on an elementary school by a Janjaweed militia. However, the main focus of her story remains on the unspeakable acts that are committed to her and others in her country.

 

Bezwinska, J., and Czech, D. (eds.) (1992) Amidst a Nightmare of Crime: Manuscripts of the Sonderkommando. NY: H. Fertig. Book Overview by Rachel Young
 

  • This book contains a collection of four manuscripts that were found buried in the ground at the death camp Birkenau near crematoriums II and III. The manuscripts were written by members of the Sonderkommando - the worksquad of prisoners whose job it was to tend to the bodies of those who died in the gas chambers. While none of the men survived the camp, the notes they wrote in secret are an invaluable resource for those researching the Holocaust.

 

Bok, Francis. (2003). Escape From Slavery: The true story of my ten years in captivity - and my journey to freedom in America. New York: St. Martin's Press. Book Overview by James Lehman
 

  • One could believe that slavery and genocide are atrocities of the past; however, Mr. Bok descriptions of his first hand experiences and struggles with slavery and of the genocide in his native country of Sudan gives strong evidence to the contrary. Bok details his childhood as a slave in Sudan and also his journey in fighting slavery as an abolitionist in the United States.

 

Burghart, E. (editor) (1999) Soundtracks to the White Revolution: White Supremacist Assaults on Youth Music Subcultures. Chicago: Center for New Community. Book Overview by Natalie Johnson
 

  • This is an interesting book that provides a new perspective on the spread of hatred and violence. The authors tell the history of hate music and chronicle its development and subsequent spread into some music scenes.

 

Chang, I. (1997) The rape of Nanking : The forgotten holocaust of World War II. New York: Basic Books. Book Overview by Begetta Crisp
 

  • This historical book provides three perspectives about the atrocities that occurred in and around Nanking during World War II. The author gives a gripping historical account backed by eyewitness testimony and other primary source documents to legitimize what she and others believe took place during the Japanese invasion of Nanking.

 

Chapman, Fern. (2010). Is It Night Or Day? Harrisonburg: RR Donnelly & Sons. Review by Kandace Arens.
 

  • Edith Westerfeld has spent her twelve years of life in a small German town called Stockstadt am Rhein. Now, with the arrival of the Nazi Party, all that she has ever known will be forced to change. Part of a larger review of Holocaust literature featuring young women in the Holocaust.

 

Eggers, Dave. (2006). What Is the What: the autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng: a novel. San Francisco: McSweeney's.

  • The story that Valentino Achak tells within What is the What was done in collaboration with the author Dave Eggers. Valentino told Dave the story from his memories. Valentino states in the preface, “It should be known to the readers that I was very young when some of the events in the book took place, and as result we simply had to pronounce What is the What a novel. I could not, for example, recount some conversations that took place seventeen years ago. However, it should be noted that all of the major events in this book are true. The book is historically accurate, and the world I have known is not different from the one depicted in these pages.”

 

Ericksen, Robert. (1985) Theologians under Hitler: Gerhard Kittel, Paul Althaus, and Emanuel Hirsch. New Haven & London: Yale University Press. Book Overview by James Lehman.
 

  • Dr. Robert Ericksen is a renowned scholar of the Holocaust and is currently a professor at Pacific Lutheran University where he teaches several courses, including one on the Holocaust. In this book Ericksen takes an in depth look at three prominent 20th century Protestant German theologians: Gerhard Kittel, Paul Althaus and Emanuel Hirsch. All supported Hitler and the Nazi party during the rise of the Third Reich. Ericksen questions how church and university scholars could support a cruel, inhumane dictator, such as Hitler.

 

Forché, Carolyn. (1993). Against Forgetting: Twentieth-Century Poetry of Witness. New York: W.W. Norton. Print. Book Overview by Kate Kenney

  • An anthology of poems that focus on the act of genocide and how it affects both individuals as well as society as a whole. The anthology includes works from more than 140 poets from across the world. Forché herself is a teacher and activist as well as an award winning poet. Against Forgetting features poets who capture both the troubling times as well as the pure moments of beauty that existed throughout the Twentieth Century.

 

Giardina, D. (1998) Saints and Villains. New York: The Ballantine Publishing Group. Book Overview by Kristin Michaud
 

  • A fictional biography and speculation on the life of Nazi resister & Christian theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. This book serves as an exploration into his humanity and offers an important perspective on courage, heroic action and resistance in the face of inhumanity.

 

Gourevitch, Peter. (1998). We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families: Stories from Rwanda. New York: Picador USA. Book Overview by James Lehman.
 

  • The “Stories from Rwanda” are of the horrible genocide that took place in this small African country in 1994. The genocide involved two African tribes, the Hutus and the Tutsis. Beginning in April of 1994 and ending only ninety days later, just under a million Tutsis were slaughtered by the Hutu majority, making this event the largest genocide since the Nazi extermination of the Jews during World War II. The book is divided up into three sections: before the genocide, during the genocide and finally, after the genocide. Many testimonials, from the different groups/individuals/nations, are included.

 

Hate by State (2000) Seattle: Northwest Coalition for Human Dignity. Overview by Natalie Johnson
 

  • This is a short informational pamphlet about some of the more prominent hate groups in the Northwest.

 

Hunt S. (2004) This Was Not Our War: Bosnian Women Reclaiming the Peace. Durham and London: Duke University Press. Book Overview by Rachael Simmons

  • This Was Not Our War is a book about 26 women who survived the Bosnian war that broke out in 1992, and how they worked to rebuild their communities in the aftermath. In the preface, author Swanee Hunt writes, “This book was written to bring the extraordinary message of ordinary women into earshot of those who shape the world order.” (pg. xxiv) The 26 women interviewed for This Was Not Our War come from a variety of backgrounds, ethnicities and world views. Each has a unique story, but all of them share their strength, resiliency, and determination to envision something better for their communities, and create a positive impact.

 

Hutton, Arlene. (2013). Letters to Sala. New York: Dramatists Play Service.
 

  • Letters to Sala is a play about Ann Kirschner’s discovery of her mother’s hidden letters from seven Nazi labor camps. This play is loosely based on the true story depicted in the book Sala’s Gift, written by Ann Kirschner herself. For fifty years, Ann’s mother Sala kept these letters secret, hidden in a box that only she knew about. However, one day, when Sala shares these letters with her family, finally speaking about her experiences in the labor camps. Letters to Sala explores the power of communication both during the Holocaust, when so many families were irrevocably separated from each other, and today, as we remember the crimes committed against the Jews.

 

Kagan, Joram. (1992). Poland’s Jewish Heritage. New York: Hippocrene Books. Book Overview by James Lehman.
 

  • Joram Kagan was born in Lublin, Poland. He was deported to the Arkhangelsk region in 1940 before evacuating to Iran in 1942. Kagan later went and served in the Givati Brigade during Israel’s war of independence. He is currently retired and living with his family in New York City. In this text Mr. Kagan offers vital information for those interested in examining Poland’s Jewish heritage. The paperback is not long (264 pages) and contains three chapters. The first provides an introduction to the Polish Jewish culture past and present. The second offers a chronology of the Jewish presence in Poland and the third chapter consists of an in-depth glossary of Polish Jewry.

 

Lafreniere, Bree (2000). Music Through The Dark. Hawaii: University of Hawaii Press. Book Overview by Jamie Daniels
 

  • Music Through the Dark is an exploration of one man's experience in Cambodia in the 1970's when the Khmer Rouge invades and takes over the land and the people. The book is written by Bree Lafrenier, who beautifully takes Daran's spoken words and makes them come to life while describing such painful and heartbreaking events.

 

Laskier, Rutka, and Daniella Zaidman-Mauer. Rutka's Notebook: A Voice from the Holocaust. New York, N.Y.: Time, 2008. Review by Kandace Arens.
 

  • For 60 years, Rutka Laksier’s small diary lay in a dusty attic, untouched and unread. Now, with a partnership between Yad Vashem and Time Magazine, this historical document can be shared with all. Part of a larger review of Holocaust literature featuring young women in the Holocaust.

 

Lowry, Lois. Number the Stars. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1989. Review by Kandace Arens.
 

  • On September 29, 1943, word broke out across Denmark that the Nazis planned to send every Danish person of Jewish descent to the work camps. Through the eyes of the fictional 10-year-old Annemarie Johanneson and her relationship with her Jewish best friend Ellen, Lowry tells the remarkable story of Denmark’s resistance movement that successfully smuggled over 7,000 Jews out of the country. Part of a larger review of Holocaust literature featuring young women in the Holocaust.

 

Moses, A. Dirk. (2008) Empire, Colony, Genocide; Conquest, Occupation, and Subaltern Resistance in World History. New York: Berghahn Books. Book Overview by Katie McKee
 

  • A. Dirk Moses presents an argument that directly connects colonization with genocide. This assortment of essays emphasizes that genocides have occured before the twentieth centrury. Many modern genocide texts focus on the genocides in the twentieth century as horrific events, but somehow characteristic of the modern age. Moses, along with other historians, argues that genocide, before it had a name, occurred wherever and whenever colonization took place. Genocide is a part of human history, not an isolated twentieth century phenomenon.

 

Opdyke, Irene Gut. (1999). In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer. New York: Random House, Inc. Review by Kandace Arens.
 

  • “You must understand that I did not become a resistance fighter, a smuggler of Jews, a defier of the SS and the Nazis all at once,” writes Irene as she risks her life to bring Jews to safety. “One’s first steps are always small.” In My Hands is the true story of 17-year old Polish nurse, Irene, who finds herself -- quite literally -- in the middle of a war over her homeland. In a single moment, she decides to climb into a van heading towards the German front -- and her life is forever changed. Part of a larger review of Holocaust literature featuring young women in the Holocaust.

 

Pipher, Mary. (2002) The Middle of Everywhere; Helping Refugees enter the American Community. Orlando, Florida: Harcourt, Inc. Book Overview by Rachael Simmons.

  • The Middle of Everywhere is a touching collection of refugee stories that will give readers an appreciation for refugees around the world, and how transitioning into a new country can be a great challenge. Pipher tells these stories through her own perspective, and infuses a variety of emotions throughout the book. At times the stories are humorous, other times tragic, and many times the stories are inspirational and full of hope. The refugees’ stories will instill a gratefulness of the simple things we often take for granted. Readers will learn how they can become “cultural brokers” and help newcomers adjust to their new home.

 

Power, Samantha. (2002). A Problem From Hell: America and the age of genocide. New York: Basic Books. Book Overview by James Lehman.

  • In her book A Problem from Hell, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Samantha Power provides us a disturbing examination of 20th century acts of genocide as well as documentation of the unwillingness and consequential lack of response by the United States to these atrocities. This must read book on genocide and American foreign policy is a powerful resource for teachers, with many quotes, pictures, references and also an extensive bibliography. Ms. Power, currently the executive director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at John F. Kennedy School of Government, adamantly criticizes the United States for its reluctance to become involved in the prevention of genocide, documenting repeatedly how American officials preferred to remain neutral rather than take the risk of engagement.

 

Rittner, C., & Roth, K. (2012). Rape: Weapon of war and genocide. St. Paul, MN: Paragon House. Review by Kandace Arens
 

  • For centuries, rape has been systematically used as a weapon of war to destroy the fabric of a society from the inside. One could argue that across the world, millions of women, children and men have been horrendously raped and mutilated to fuel the fires of societal eradication -- yet, often this facet of history is left out of conversations about war and genocide. Rittner and Roth seek to change this by beginning a discussion about the reality of rape as a weapon of war and genocide. Their compilation brings together 13 essays discussing individualized experiences with and responses to tragedies experienced during the 20th century. Their text was compiled with the intention of inclusiveness; Rittner and Roth explain in the introduction that their hope is that any person, even those without extensive knowledge of the topic, will be able to read this book and understand its contents fully. Essays are informative, speculative, and reflective, ranging from the Holocaust to Guatemala, from Rwanda to the Democratic Republic of Congo and beyond.

 

Rusesabagina, P. (2006). An Ordinary Man. New York: Penguin Group Inc. (with references to the 2005 Terry George film; Hotel Rwanda) Book Overview by Nicole Trecker
 

  • During the late spring and early summer of 1994, hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina saved the lives of 1,268 Rwandans. In the midst of a genocide that killed approximately 800,000 Rwandans in 100 days, Rusesabagina did what he claims any “ordinary man” would do: he transformed the luxurious Belgian-owned hotel he managed, the Mille Collines, into a refuge for all Tutsi or moderate Hutu refugees who sought safety. As chaos ensued outside the hotel walls, Rusesabagina courageously utilized a combination of diplomacy and persuasion, and when these didn’t work -- guile and deceit, to protect his guests.

 

Schiff, Hilda (1996). Holocaust Poetry. New York: St. Martin's. Print. Book Overview by Kate Kenney

  • Compiled and introduced by Hilda Schiff, Holocaust Poetry is an anthology that includes 119 poems from 59 different poets. Schiff’s anthology begins with a description of the anthology’s larger intention, “The Holocaust encompasses the experiences of countless surviving individuals…the word Holocaust is most widely recognized as signifying the death of millions of human beings who were destroyed in unimaginably cruel ways by the Nazis and their collaborators. This book bears witness to the fate of all of these,” (xiii).

 

Scholl, Inge (1970). Students against tyranny; the resistance of the White Rose. Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press. (with references to the Marc Rothemund film Sophie Scholl: The Final Days) Book Overview by AJ Barse
 

  • Inge Scholl, sister of Hans and Sophie authored this account of her family’s struggle as well as the establishment of the White Rose Society in Nazi control Germany. Hans and Sophie were two the founders of the White Rose Society. The White Rose Society's goal was to “encourage passive resistance among wide circles of the populace” (p. 95). The society included “intellectual”college students originally from the University of Munich who desired to remove the blinders and fear the German public had of the Nazi Party. They published a total of six leaflets that spoke to the continuing immoral, unethical, and inhuman actions of the Nazi party running the country. And called on the German people to take a stand against tyranny.

 

Sonneman, T. (2002) Shared sorrows: A gypsy family remembers the Holocaust. Hertfordshire, UK: University of Hertfordshire Press. Book Overview by Christopher Brosell.
 

  • Shared Sorrows is an oral history of a Gypsy family's experiences during the Holocaust. Throughout the book author Toby Sonneman weaves together a narrative of her father’s experiences in Nazi Germany with those of the Gypsies she interviews. The book provides a very personal account of the Gypsy experience during the Holocaust.

 

Sundberg, A., Stern, R., (Directors). (2007). The Devil Came on Horseback [DVD]. Available from http://www.thedevilcameonhorseback.com/. Film Review by JamieDaniels.

  • In 2004, U.S. Marine Captain Brian Steidle was sent to Darfur, Sudan to investigate and report on the thousands of lives being destroyed all over the country. What he observed would change his life forever; innocent children, mothers, and fathers being killed by the hundreds right before his eyes. With no weapons and strict orders not to intervene, Steidle watched people die for 6 months before resigning and ultimately taking the evidence collected to the US to attempt to stop the genocide occurring in Darfur. (Devil Came on the Horseback, Break Thru Films)

 

Tec, N. (1986). When Light Pierced the Darkness: Christian escue of Jews in Nazi-occupied Poland. New York: Oxford University Press. Book Overview by James Lehman.
 

  • Many people know the name Anne Frank, and many remember her story. Fewer people know or remember anything about the Christian rescuers that protected and hid her. In this text, Nechama Tec provides a framework for understanding the motivations of Christian rescuers in Poland during the Holocaust. Mrs. Tec was one of the few fortunate Jews who survived World War II in Poland by passing as a Christian. She is currently a professor of sociology at the University of Connecticut and is the winner of the 1990 Christopher Award.

 

Volavková, H. and U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum (Editors) (1993) …I never saw another butterfly… children’s drawings and poems from Terezin concentration camp 1942-1944. New York: Schocken Books. Book Overview by Rachael Simmons

  • Only 100 of the children deported from the Jewish concentration camp called Theresienstadt survived. However their drawings and words remain with us and in …I Never Saw Another Butterfly… In this collection you will find a variety of pictures, poetry, and journal entries full of powerful messages from the children of Theresienstadt.

 

Young, R. (2000) The "Euthanasia" of People with Disabilities in Nazi Germany: Harbinger of the Final Solution. Northwest Center for Holocuast, Genocide, and Ethnocide Education.

  • This article looks at the tens of thousands of people with disabilities were murdered during the Holocaust, killed in the so-called "euthanasia" program, authorized by Hitler in the fall of 1939.

 

Zusak, M. (2006) The Book Thief. New York: Knopf Books for Young Readers. Book Overview by Tabitha Hall.

  • Markus Zusak’s bestseller The Book Thief follows a young girl, Liesel Meminger, as she lives under Hitler’s rule. The book begins when Liesel is sent to live with a foster family, and witnesses the death of her younger brother. Upon meeting her foster parents, she must begin adjusting to a new life in a different home, school, and community. Liesel must also address her struggle with reading. Zusak weaves a beautiful story of a newfound father-daughter relationship between Liesel and her foster father, Hans Hubermann, who puts aside his own problems reading to help Liesel. The first book they begin reading is The Gravedigger’s Handbook, a book that Liesel found at her brother’s grave.

 

Works Previously Published in Other Journals by NWCHGEE Director Dr. Ray Wolpow (used with permission)