(Review) Black Earth: The Holocaust, As History And Warning by Timothy Snyder

Published: September 8, 2015.
Publisher: Tim Duggan Books/Crown Publishing.
Genre: Nonfiction, Holocaust, World War II.
Pages: 480.
Source: Free ebook copy from NetGalley in exchange for a review.
Rating: 4 stars for very good.



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Timothy Snyder has written an extensive history of the European countries who were invaded by Nazi Germany during World War II. His analysis of Hitler's reasoning and action, brings a different kind of view of the war: a failure of national states and the science behind dehumanizing Jews.

Chapter topics are:
"Introduction: Hitler's World
Chapter 1 Living Space
Chapter 2 Berlin, Warsaw, Moscow
Chapter 3 The Promise of Palestine
Chapter 4 The State Destroyers
Chapter 5 Double Occupation
Chapter 6 The Greater Evil
Chapter 7 Germans, Poles, Soviets, Jews
Chapter 8 The Auschwitz Paradox
Chapter 9 Sovereignty and Survival
Chapter 10 The Grey Saviors
Chapter 11 Partisans of God and Man
Chapter 12 The Righteous Few
Conclusion: Our World"

My Thoughts:
Most of Black Earth is a rich detailed history of World War II in Europe, with a closer examination of Hitler's ideology, Nazism, the work to eradicate Jews, and those who made the faithful effort to save Jews.
The concluding chapter is an argument and warning based on Snyder's view, "the world has changed less than we think." He brings into the interpretation: the war in Iraq, threats against our own dogma, climate change, the definition of freedom, and self-governing markets.
We share Hitler's planet and several of his preoccupations; we have changed less than we think. We like our living space, we fantasize about destroying governments, we denigrate science, we dream of catastrophe, If we think we are victims of some planetary conspiracy, we edge towards Hitler. If we believe that the Holocaust was a result of the inherent characteristics of Jews, Germans, Poles, Lithuanians, Ukrainians, or anyone else, then we are moving in Hitler's world.
For most of the book, I felt Black Earth gave a strong detailed history of Hitler's plan, and the affects on the Jews, as well as the changed politics and policies of Europe.
The last chapter is controversial. I found Snyder's hypothesis interesting, but left-leaning.
I'm thankful Snyder gave a lengthy note and source section. I enjoy reading an author's research and basis of argument before writing their book.
I find it (what is the right word?) interesting, when an author makes an intellectual argument, but does not focus on the evil that humans do to another. It has become expected for a person to focus on intellectual views, and not talk about the word evil.
Hitler was evil. Sick. Mentally ill. Insane. Disgusting. But most of all he was evil.
Evil is no respecter of intelligence, or socioeconomic status. Men and women can be evil no matter the race, religion, or politic.
Over-all, Black Earth is an incredible book, filled with a balanced approach of both philosophy and reasoning.
On the other hand, Black Earth is a nonfiction work some readers will find heavy. A reader who loves World War II history, and is interested in a different kind of historical approach, this book is for them.
Reading Black Earth and writing the review has been a challenge. One of the reasons I read and review nonfiction books is because they are more challenging, requiring different brain cells to utilize.