Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Leslie Riedel, one of the more voracious readers on staff, sent me the following comments after reading The Kindly Ones, by Jonathan Littell. The book just arrived in the store today and is beginning to receive major attention most notably in yesterday's New York Times.
"I've read many books about the Holocaust but never read anything as powerful, riveting,and as controversial as Jonathan Littell's new fictional memoir, The Kindly Ones. I can't say I enjoyed reading parts of this tome but I was fascinated with the voice Littell chose: the first person memoir of a young educated and dedicated Nazi SS officer, an internal investigator for the SS. Culling historical war facts of the eastern front of WWII, the reader is placed face to face with the protagonist, Max Aue, a Nazi murderer, a sexual deviant, and a sadist. Littell, using his background as aid worker in war torn conflicts, looks at the Holocaust from the loser's side, the motivation of killing of innocents and the bureaucracy surrounding this deadly task. Can war turn humans into beasts? Will I too revert to murder of innocents in the maelstrom of war? I think Littell has at the very least reopened the discussion. A fascinating, thought provoking read".

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