Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Nazi Hunters by Neal Bascomb

A thrilling spy mission, a moving Holocaust story, and a first-class work of narrative nonfiction.

In 1945, at the end of World War II, Adolf Eichmann, the head of operations for the Nazis' Final Solution, walked into the mountains of Germany and vanished from view. Sixteen years later, an elite team of spies captured him at a bus stop in Argentina and smuggled him to Israel, resulting in one of the century's most important trials -- one that cemented the Holocaust in the public imagination.

THE NAZI HUNTERS is the thrilling and fascinating story of what happened between these two events. Survivor Simon Wiesenthal opened Eichmann's case; a blind Argentinean and his teenage daughter provided crucial information. Finally, the Israeli spies -- many of whom lost family in the Holocaust -- embarked on their daring mission, recounted here in full. Based on the adult bestseller HUNTING EICHMANN, which is now in development as a major film, and illustrated with powerful photos throughout, THE NAZI HUNTERS is a can't-miss work of narrative nonfiction for middle-grade and YA readers.

First line:
 A remote stretch of unlit road on a windy night. Two cars appear out of the darkness.
5 stars out of 5
When I was younger, I read all the time. In third and fourth grade, I couldn't be seen without a book about the Holocaust. I was obsessed. But when your that old, the tragedies that these people went through don't really hit you. While other kids were playing cops and robbers (rather than cowboys and Indians), I was pondering what it would be like to live as a Jew in Nazi Germany. I loved pondering how I would respond to certain things. Would I cower before death? Or would I stand up for my faith?

It's been awhile since I've read a Holocaust book, but this was definitely the perfect book to pick up. Bascomb gives an amazingly detailed account of the hunt for Adolf Eichmann, but it also flows like a story and not a boring history book. The only problem I had was that I had a problem keeping names and involvement in the hunt straight, but Bascomb had no control over the characters.

There are some moments that made me tear up. Reading Zeev's account of what he went through in Hungary and Auschwitz was heartbreaking. And the ending paragraphs where a bittersweet happy moment. "Mama, Fruma was avenged. It was her own brother who captured Adolf Eichmann." Those words broke my heart and made me smile at the same time. Bascomb's inclusion of Israeli Attorney General Gideon Hausner's opening and closing speeches of the trial was ingenious. "When I stand before you here, Judges of Israel, to lead the Prosecution of Adolf Eichmann, I am not standing alone. With me are six million accusers...but their voice is not heard. Therefore, I will be their spokesman." These opening words from Hausner draw your attention to the atrocities committed against those whose died. And now they do not get to accuse their condemners.

I think all Middle/High Schoolers should read this book and others like it, so that we may never forget the atrocities that faced the Jews during the Holocaust. For those who do not remember history are condemned to repeat it.

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