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Forgers Spell Forger's Spell: A True Story of Vermeer, Nazis, and the Greatest Art Hoax of the Twentieth Century, by Edward Dolnick, ND 1662 .M43 D65 2008
Edgar-winner Dolnick ("The Rescue Artist") delves into the extraordinary story of Han van Meegeren (1889–1947), who made a fortune in German-occupied Holland by forging paintings of the 17th-century Dutch painter Vermeer. The discovery of a “new” Vermeer was just what the beleaguered Dutch needed to lift their spirits, and van Meegeren's "Christ at Emmaus" had already been bought by the Boymans Museum in Rotterdam in 1937 for $2.6 million. Collectors, critics and the public were blind to the clumsiness of this work and five other “Vermeers” done by van Meegeren. Dolnick questions how everyone could have been fooled, and he answers with a fascinating analysis of the forger's technique and a perceptive discussion of van Meegeren's genius at manipulating people. Van Meegeren was unmasked in 1945 by one of his clients, Hermann Goering. Later accused of treason for collaboration, he saved himself from execution and even became a hero for having swindled Goering. Dolnick's compelling look at how a forger worked his magic leads to one sad conclusion: there will always be eager victims waiting to be duped. Illus. not seen by PW. — Publishers Weekly

Man Who Made 

    VermeersThe Man Who Made Vermeers: Unvarnishing the Legend of Master Forger Han van Meegeren,by Jonathan Lopez, ND 1662 .M43 L67 2008
In this engaging study, art historian Lopez examines — as did Edward Dolnick's "Forger's Spell" published in June — the fascinating case of Han van Meegeren, a notorious Dutch art forger. Van Meegeren, who sold Hermann Goering a fake Vermeer, was convicted of collaboration; he became a folk hero for duping the Nazi leader. But according to Lopez, van Meegeren was a successful forger long before World War II, and contrary to van Meegeren's claim that he was avenging himself on the art critics who had scorned his own work, Lopez says he was motivated by financial gain and Nazi sympathies: “What is a forger if not a closeted Übermensch, an artist who secretly takes history itself for his canvas?” Lopez asks provocatively. The author gives a vivid portrait of the 1920s Hague, a stylish place of "mischief and artifice" where van Meegeren learned his trade, and brilliantly examines the influence of Nazi Volksgeist imagery on van Meegeren's "The Supper at Emmaus," part of his forged biblical Vermeer series. Lopez's writing is witty, crisp and vigorous, his research scrupulous and his pacing dynamic. 88 B&W photos. — Publishers Weekly

Freedom's BattleFreedom's Battle: The Origins of Humanitarian Intervention, by Gary J. Bass (Author), JZ 6369 .B37 2008
Bass, associate professor of international affairs at Princeton ("Stay the Hand of Vengeance: The Politics of War Crimes Tribunals"), makes the case with delightful wit, insight and scholarship that humanitarian military intervention arose not with genocide in Bosnia or Rwanda, but in Victorian times in parallel with democracy and the mass media. When Greeks rebelled against the Ottoman Empire, Turkish troops committed atrocities viewed by reporters and letter writers whose accounts produced a torrent of outrage. Reluctantly, British leaders began pressuring the sultan, but the failure of this effort led to Britain’s great naval victory at Navarino that assured Greek independence. Bass moves on to two other half-forgotten but ghastly crises: the 1860s Syrian upheaval in which Maronite Christians and Druze slaughtered each other, and the 1870s mass murders of Bulgarians by the Ottomans. Bass ends with the Armenian genocide during World War I. Readers may squirm at the slowness with which nations acted to oppose gruesome cruelties, but they will relish Bass’s gripping account of bloodthirsty characters, bitter political infighting and cynical leaders, forced by public opinion into moral actions that did not serve their own national interest. — Publishers Weekly

Girl in 

    Green SweaterThe Girl in the Green Sweater: A Life in Holocaust's Shadow, (Hardcover)
by Krystyna Chiger (Author), Daniel Paisner (Author), DS 135 .U43 C533 2008
In thus puissant memoir, Holocaust survivor Chiger and co-author Paisner detail Chiger's early years, largely spent hiding from Nazi and Ukrainian persecution. Told from a precocious child's point of view, Chiger chronicles long, dark hours spent in silence with her younger brother, Pawel, in makeshift bunkers and behind false walls while their parents worked menial jobs for meager rations. Chiger's seven-year-old cypher possesses a self-awareness that springs from her inner and outer turmoil, capturing well the despair and terror of a life in hiding. After the Chigers are forced into the underground sewer system, with a collection of strangers, by the Lvov ghetto liquidation in May 1943, the family spends 14 months in the most unsanitary conditions imaginable, sharing quarters with rats and human waste. Amid the sick and starving, young Chiger clings to hope through make believe games, trust in her parents, and the Catholic sewer worker who provides their only access to the outside world. With a powerful story and a keen voice, Chiger's Holocaust survivor's tale is a worthy and memorable addition to the canon. Photos. — Publishers Weekly

One of 

    ThemSay You're One of Them, by Uwem Akpan (Author), PR 9387.9 .A3935 S29 2008
Nigerian-born Jesuit priest Akpan transports the reader into gritty scenes of chaos and fear in his rich debut collection of five long stories set in war-torn Africa. “An Ex-mas Feast” tells the heartbreaking story of eight-year-old Jigana, a Kenyan boy whose 12-year-old sister, Maisha, works as a prostitute to support her family. Jigana’s mother quells the children’s hunger by having them sniff glue while they wait for Maisha to earn enough to bring home a holiday meal. In “Luxurious Hearses,” Jubril, a teenage Muslim, flees the violence in northern Nigeria. Attacked by his own Muslim neighbors, his only way out is on a bus transporting Christians to the south. In “Fattening for Gabon,” 10-year-old Kotchikpa and his younger sister are sent by their sick parents to live with their uncle, Fofo Kpee, who in turn explains to the children that they are going to live with their prosperous “godparents,” who, as Kotchikpa pieces together, are actually human traffickers. Akpan’s prose is beautiful and his stories are insightful and revealing, made even more harrowing because all the horror — and there is much — is seen through the eyes of children. — Publishers Weekly

Tears of the DesertTears of the Desert: A Memoir of Survival in Darfur, by Halima Bashir (Author), Damien Lewis (Author), DT 159.6 .D27 B37 2008
Writing with BBC correspondent Lewis (Slave), Bashir, a physician and refugee living in London, offers a vivid personal portrait of life in the Darfur region of Sudan before the catastrophe. Doted on by her father, who bucked tradition to give his daughter an education, and feisty grandmother, who bequeathed a fierce independence, Bashir grew up in the vibrant culture of a close-knit Darfur village. (Its darker side emerges in her horrific account of undergoing a clitoridectomy at age eight.) She anticipated a bright future after medical school, but tensions between Sudan’s Arab-dominated Islamist dictatorship and black African communities like her Zaghawa tribe finally exploded into conflict. The violence the author recounts is harrowing: the outspoken Bashir endured brutal gang-rapes by government soldiers, and her village was wiped out by marauding Arab horsemen and helicopter gunships. This is a vehement cri de coeur — “I wanted to fight and kill every Arab, to slaughter them, to drive them out of the country,” the author thought upon treating girls who had been raped and mutilated — but in showing what she suffered, and lost, Bashir makes it resonate. — Publishers Weekly

Long Way 

    GoneA Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier,
by Ishmael Beah (Author), DT 516.828 .B43 A3 2007
This absorbing account by a young man who, as a boy of 12, gets swept up in Sierra Leone's civil war goes beyond even the best journalistic efforts in revealing the life and mind of a child abducted into the horrors of warfare. Beah's harrowing journey transforms him overnight from a child enthralled by American hip-hop music and dance to an internal refugee bereft of family, wandering from village to village in a country grown deeply divided by the indiscriminate atrocities of unruly, sociopathic rebel and army forces. Beah then finds himself in the army — in a drug-filled life of casual mass slaughter that lasts until he is 15, when he's brought to a rehabilitation center sponsored by UNICEF and partnering NGOs. The process marks out Beah as a gifted spokesman for the center's work after his "repatriation" to civilian life in the capital, where he lives with his family and a distant uncle. When the war finally engulfs the capital, it sends 17-year-old Beah fleeing again, this time to the United States, where he now lives. (Beah graduated from Oberlin College in 2004.) Told in clear, accessible language by a young writer with a gifted literary voice, this memoir seems destined to become a classic firsthand account of war and the ongoing plight of child soldiers in conflicts worldwide. — Publishers Weekly


    of HitlerIn Defiance of Hitler: The Secret Mission of Varian Fry, (Hardcover)
by Carla Killough McClafferty (Author), D 804.66 .F79 M33 2008
Fry was a young American journalist working in pre-World War II Germany when he witnessed an antisemitic uprising led by storm troopers, and he was inspired, over 13 months of espionage and clandestine efforts during the war, to save people from impending annihilation. Back in New York City and following the French-German armistice in 1940 that provided Germany control over France, he realized that numerous renowned artists, writers and scientists, both Jews and non-Jews, would be trapped under the Vichy government. Fry joined the newly formed Emergency Rescue Committee and volunteered to lead an escape mission for as many of these refugees as possible. His work began as a one-man operation in Marseilles and quickly grew to a fully staffed unit posing as a refugee center. Fry not only helped the famous and talented, but also many ordinary Jews to escape France through Spain and Portugal and then to ports beyond. McClafferty describes an exciting if not daring and altruistic episode in this righteous gentile's life. Numerous black-and-white photographs of the period and individuals who worked closely with Fry augment the readable and well-documented text. This is an intriguing look at how life completely changed for so many and how ingenuity and daring used by a few outwitted the enemy and saved lives. — School Library Journal

Finding BeautyFinding Beauty in a Broken World, by Terry Tempest Williams (Author), BH 39 .W554 2008
Williams ("The Open Space of Democracy") travels to Ravenna, Italy, a town famous for its ancient mosaics, to "learn a new language with my hands." Back home in Utah, Williams views the lives of a clan of endangered prairie dogs — a species essential to the ecological mosaic of the grasslands and the creators of "the most sophisticated animal language decoded so far" — through the rules of Italian mosaics. After intimate study of a prairie dog town at Bryce Canyon, her visit to 19th-century prairie dog specimens at the American Museum of Natural History segues, dreamlike, to a glass case of bones from the genocide in Rwanda, where Williams, overwhelmed by the death of her brother but knowing that her "own spiritual evolution depended upon it," travels with artist Lily Yeh, who "understands mosaic as taking that which is broken and creating something whole," to build a memorial with genocide survivors. The book, itself a skillful, nuanced mosaic ("a conversation between what is broken... a conversation with light, with color, with form") uses this "way of thinking about the world" to convincingly "make the connection between racism and specism" and sensitively argues for respect for life in all its myriad forms. — Publishers Weekly


    CakeHoney Cake, by Joan Betty Stuchner (Author), Cynthia Nugent (Illustrator), JUV PZ 7 .S93756 HO 2008
"There are so many ways of being brave," David's father explains. Through this straightforward and informative story of Jews in the Danish Resistance during World War II, the youngest readers learn what life was like under Nazi occupation. It's 1943 Copenhagen, where shortages of food and fuel make it difficult to run the family bakery. Everyone seems to have secrets, even 10-year-old David's older sister Rachel and their parents. When Papa sends David to deliver some eclairs, the boy suspects it is more than a simple errand but remains calm under pressure, knowing that he is contributing to something larger than himself. While more happens to David than could possibly happen to one 10-year-old boy, his tale conveys a wealth of historical detail, from the famed horseback-riding King Christian to Victor Borge's humor. Nugent's uneven pen-and-ink illustrations are jarring, but the story itself moves along at a good clip. A fine offering for readers not quite ready for "Number the Stars." — Kirkus Reviews

Why We WatchedWhy We Watched: Europe, America, and the Holocaust, by Theodore S. Hamerow (Author), D 804.3 .H355 2008
Masterful analysis of the conditions Jews faced in the allied countries before and during World War II. In his eminently readable account, Hamerow (History Emeritus/Univ. of Wisconsin; "Remembering a Vanished World: A Jewish Childhood in Interwar Poland," 2001, etc.) describes how Jewish communities in parts of Western Europe and the United States reacted and often turned a blind eye to the growing fascist threat against their co-religionists. Relying heavily on demographic and economic data, the author is balanced and never polemical. Cultural differences caused some Jews in Western Europe and America to resist allowing more immigration from Germany and Eastern Europe, he argues, and worsening economic conditions caused people to fear admitting newcomers who would compete for already scarce jobs. Chronicling the changing nature of antisemitism, the author notes that in earlier periods, especially before the French Revolution, it was more subtle: "The ups and downs of official policy regarding the Jewish community reflected expediency, indecisiveness and sometimes simply indifference rather than a deep-seated hostility." By the time of the Holocaust, however, attitudes toward Jews had changed, and the governments and citizens of many European countries were looking for a more drastic solution to the Jewish "problem." Examining how the Holocaust is perceived in modern society, both in academic and popular venues, Hamerow notes that while Americans generally consider it "the unparalleled atrocity of the 20th century," Old World denizens are more inclined to lump it with the sufferings of others under Nazi rule. Though his lengthy narrative occasionally goes off on tangents, for the most part, it moves at a brisk pace. Scholarly enough to appeal to academics, it will also find an audience with general history buffs. The story Hamerow tells is unequivocally sad, but he ends with an optimistic assessment of the current state of Jewry. An important contribution to the scholarly literature about one of the seminal events in European history. — Kirkus Reviews

Reckless HandsIn Reckless Hands: Skinner v. Oklahoma and the Near-Triumph of American Eugenics, by Victoria F. Nourse (Author), KF 224 .S486 N68 2008
Memorable account of a landmark case that stymied the practice of forced sterilization. The original 1934 plaintiffs were three men jailed in Oklahoma's McAlester prison; each had at least three felony convictions, which made them eligible for sterilization under the state's broad 1933 law. Similar laws around the country drew their rationale from the pseudo-science of eugenics, which claimed that insanity, feeble-mindedness, promiscuity and criminality were inherited traits. Pseudonymous, frequently flawed family studies in the late 19th- and early-20th century had made names like Jukes and Kallikak synonyms for generations of imbeciles and criminals. Two crusading Oklahoma lawyers took the McAlester inmates' case and managed to delay implementation of the law as they lost appeal after appeal to higher courts-losses that occasioned prison riots and breakouts. At the 11th hour, two additional lawyers filed for consideration of Skinner v. Oklahoma by the U.S. Supreme Court. By that time, in late 1941, the court was headed by Harlan Stone and included Roosevelt appointees Felix Frankfurter, Hugo Black and William O. Douglas. The world was at war, and even the self-righteous who saw eugenics as the path to society's betterment were having second thoughts in light of Nazi atrocities. Douglas wrote in the deciding opinion on June 1, 1942, that "in reckless hands," entire "races or types" might "wither and disappear." Moreover, the law violated equal protection because it did not mandate sterilization for embezzlers or tax cheats (non-felons). Perhaps the most visionary language, however, came in the justice's reference to procreation as "an area of human rights." In a nuanced discourse, Nourse(Criminal and Constitutional Law/Univ. of Wisconsin) recounts how legal thinking concerning race, liberty, constitutionality, equal protection and civil rights has changed dramatically since Skinner. However, she warns, society may once again be looking for "the 'natural' secret to criminal tendencies," this time in the form of bad genes. A legal tale that reads like a cliffhanger. — Kirkus Reviews

Museum EthicsMuseum Ethics, by Gary Edson (Author), REF AM 121 .M872 1997
A number of developments in the museum movement during the last few years have forced museums to give greater attention to ethical issues. Members of the profession are increasingly regarded as constituting an ethical community and every person within such a community must have a sense of personal obligation as well as a responsibility for others to assure ethical achievement. "Museum Ethics" firmly places notions of ethics in the field of action. It considers the theoretical and practical elements of the philosophy of conduct in relation to both critical contemporary issues and museums. This discussion encompasses the procurement of artifacts, the rights of indigenous peoples, repatriation, the politics of display, the conservation of objects and the role of education, as well as the day-to-day management of a museum. All persons active in museum matters — whether custodian, curator, or trustee — have an ethical obligation to the museum profession and the public. This volume will allow the professional and student alike to work towards a more responsible and responsive museum community. — Amazon

Beyond Anne FrankBeyond Anne Frank: Hidden Children and Postwar Families in Holland, by Diane L. Wolf (Author), DS 135 .N4 W58 2007
What was the fate of Jewish children who were wrenched from their parents and hidden by Christians in Holland during World War II? Max was returned postwar to his emotionally distant father and sexually abusive stepmother but always believed his foster parents were his true parents. When Rob's distraught brother wet his bed, their foster father sent him back to his parents and the boy was deported and killed with them. Louis's exploitative foster parents took money from his parents for his room and board but kept him in an unheated room without clean clothes or showers, and made Louis toil at piecework before giving him a meager meal. Ria's parents converted to Catholicism in gratitude to those who had hidden them, baptizing Ria as well. Anneke's Orthodox Jewish parents were murdered in Sobibor; after the war, custody was awarded to a Jewish organization but the girl was kidnapped and baptized by her Catholic foster mother. Through interviews with some 70 former hidden children, University of California-Davis sociologist Wolf ("Factory Daughters") debunks the myth — perpetuated by the story of Anne Frank — of Dutch tolerance and resistance, demonstrating both Dutch complicity with the Nazis and indifference to Jewish suffering after the war. Although narrowly focused and dryly written, this sociological study is a worthy addition to Holocaust scholarship. Photos. — Publishers Weekly

Hitler's Man in Havana: Heinz Luning and Nazi Espionage in Latin America, (Hardcover) by Thomas D. Schoonover (Author), Louis A. Perez (Foreword), D 810 .S8 L867 2008
Schoonover, professor emeritus of history at the University of Louisiana–Lafayette, charts the brief career of the "minor and ineffective" Nazi spy Heinz Lüning, whose arrest and subsequent execution were "hyped and distorted" by Cuban, American and British officials as a major coup for the Allies. Sent to Cuba to collect information concerning Allied naval maneuvers and commerce in the Caribbean, Lüning was a drinker and a womanizer with "a brief training period, narrow and personal interests, modest intelligence, and no desire to serve Germany." The story of how this hapless, largely incompetent man found his way to the Americas and, eventually, the international limelight is at once strange, humorous and pathetic, if drily rendered. The final chapter, in which Schoonover makes a case for Lüning as the model for the character James Wormold in Graham Greene’s 1958 novel, "Our Man in Havana," is somewhat disconnected from the preceding sections, though it’s a provocative if unusual conclusion to what is otherwise a straightforward work of military history. 32 photos. — Publishers Weekly

Scheisshaus LuckScheisshaus Luck: Surviving the Unspeakable in Auschwitz and Dora, by Pierre Berg (Author), Brian Brock (Author), D805.5 .A96 B465 2008
The harrowing story of Berg's time in Nazi concentration camps, related with "irony, irreverence, and gallows humor" that led co-author Brock to urge him to publish it a half-century after it was written. The pair collaborated to amplify and clarify the original manuscript, but retained the cocky voice of a French Resistance member only 18 years old when he was arrested in Nice in late 1943. On a train full of prisoners, Berg met Stella, a pretty Jewish girl with whom he snatched some stolen sex and happiness at the Drancy transit camp near Paris. There he also had the misfortune to encounter the Gestapo agent who had arrested him in Nice; the agent ordered him sent to Auschwitz. But the "shithouse luck" of his book's title, Berg explains in his preface, meant that he "kept landing on the right side of the randomness of life." A minor clerical error caused another Haftling (prisoner) to be hung in his stead. Berg got to carry on collecting corpses, digging trenches and cadging the occasional extra ladle of watery soup that sometimes made the difference between life and death. Like other survivors, he graphically recalls the beatings, hunger, sickness, selections, stink, despair and omnipresent death. Berg's mechanical skill and proficiency in German, English, Italian, Spanish and a bit of Russian, in addition to his native French, contributed to his Scheisshaus luck. The young Haftling was sent to the caves of Dora, where he assembled V-1 and V-2 rockets as a slave of IG Farben. When freedom came, he was caught between the retreating Wehrmacht and the advancing, marauding Red Army. He was searching for Stella, never forgotten during his 18 months in the camps, and the randomness of lifeproved itself once again. A worthy supplement to the reports of Primo Levi and Elie Wiesel. — Kirkus Reviews

Holocaust by BulletsThe Holocaust by Bullets: A Priest's Journey to Uncover the Truth Behind the Murder of 1.5 Million Jews, by Patrick Desbois (Author), Paul A. Shapiro (Foreword), DS 135 .U4 D4813 2008
In this heart-wrenching book, Father Patrick Desbois documents the daunting task of identifying and examining all the sites where Jews were exterminated by Nazi mobile units in the Ukraine in World War II. Using innovative methodology, interviews and ballistic evidence, he has determined the location of many mass gravesites with the goal of providing proper burials for the victims of the forgotten Ukrainian Holocaust. Compiling new archival material and many eyewitness accounts, Desbois has put together the first definitive account of one of history's bloodiest chapters. Published with the support of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. — Ingram

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