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Tag: Book Reviews

Reckonings: Legacies of Nazi Persecution and the Quest for Justice

Reviewed by Kate Docking.

Reckonings, authored by Mary Fulbrook, analyses the various implications of Nazi atrocities on both an individual and state level. A key aspect of the book explores how the judicial punishment of those involved in National Socialist persecution in the decades following the war could vary vastly between states. The stories of Rudolf Zimmerman and Walter Thormeyer provide a particularly poignant example of this. Zimmerman lived a seemingly innocuous life before the German invasion of Poland in September 1939. Residing in a village near the city of Mielec in Poland, Zimmerman helped his father’s farming business. When the SS came to Mielec, Zimmerman soon became involved in Nazi atrocities; he murdered Jews, and was later also involved in selections and deportations. After the war, Zimmerman became a ‘model’ socialist citizen in East Germany; he even acquired awards for his work. However, Zimmerman’s dark past soon caught up with him. He was arrested by East German authorities in 1966, put on trial, and sentenced to life imprisonment in 1967. Walter Thormeyer, who was Zimmerman’s superior during the war, was tried in West Germany, and received a lesser sentence; he was condemned to twelve years in prison, in spite of the copious amount of evidence pertaining to his participation in murderous crimes. The cases of Thormeyer and Zimmerman are reflective of how East and West Germany often adopted different approaches to the handling of those involved in Nazi crimes; harsher punishments were (generally) dealt out in the GDR, whereas the Federal Republic embodied a more lenient approach.

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Monarchies and the Great War

Reviewed by Mario Draper.

The First World War has frequently been described as a watershed moment. Arthur Marwick, for instance, famously put forward the notion that the resultant social, economic, and political change qualified it as the first total war. The impact on the institution of monarchy was no less dramatic, with the abrupt demise of the Romanovs, the Hohenzollerns, and the Habsburgs, as well as the resultant fall of the Ottoman dynasty a few years later. Nevertheless, a systematic study of monarchy’s role and influence during the First World War has received relatively little attention. This is all the more evident in terms of comparative history, where even The Cambridge History of the First World War only tackles the question of monarchy within the framework of civil-military relations (the autocracy vs democracy debate), which naturally extends its scope to include a study of the participating republics. To this end, Matthew Glencross and Judith Rowbotham’s conference and ensuing published proceedings, Monarchies and the Great War, provides a useful addition to the plethora of publications that have accompanied the Centenary of the First World War.

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Does Terrorism Work? A History

Reviewed by Megan King.

Richard English’s Does Terrorism Work? provides readers with an extensive, yet unwaveringly insightful probe into whether or not the employment of terrorism can accomplish the intended goals of its perpetrators. As a political historian, English emphasizes the need for a cross-disciplinary, yet historically grounded approach to the study of terrorism and responses to terrorism accompanied by a meticulously developed framework for assessment. Accordingly, English draws on concepts and approaches from traditions such as political science, international relations, philosophy, and geography. In strengthening and expanding his survey, the bulk of this work utilizes four case studies of non-state terrorist organizations, including al-Qaida, the Provisional IRA (PIRA), Hamas, and Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA) or Basque Homeland and Freedom. Although it indeed possesses a mildly misleading title, this study is intended not as an answer to the question, ‘Does terrorism work?’ but rather as a means of opening that inquiry up for debate and advancing the study of terrorism and the discussion of its efficacy. As such, this enthralling and informative work will make a substantial contribution to the bookshelf of scholars and casual social scientists alike.

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