The Eichmann Trial
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
Review Date: 2 Apr 2014
Adolf Eichmann had been the subject of study for some time and from various angles. Not too long ago, I had checked out Hannah Arendt's Eichmann in Jerusalem in which she described Eichmann as a bureaucrat who was not much different than the common man, clearly lacking morality but yet did not quite fit into our mental mold of a super villain. Deborah Lipstadt's The Eichmann Trial presented yet another angle. Lipstadt was the defendant at a libel case brought on by disgraced historian David Irving, and in the process of collecting material for her defense secured the court proceeding documents of the Eichmann trial from the state of Israel, thus becoming among the first of the general public to analyze them. In this book, Lipstadt pursued several topics in parallel. While Eichmann's trial most definitely represented her main pursuit, she also discussed the Jewish reaction to the trial, how revisionism affected the popular understanding of history, her disagreements (and at times, direct attacks of) with Hannah Arendt's theory of "the banality of evil", and genocides that had taken place after the Holocaust. While her ethnocentric perspective served as blinkers of sorts to her book, it allowed her to focus on her study of how the Eichmann Trial shaped the later understanding of the Holocaust.
I had reviewed this title in its audio book format. I had enjoyed Walter Dixon's performance in reading this book.
Lipstadt's The Eichmann Trial represented one historian's study of the trial and her view of the greater implications. I believe this work had broadened my understanding of this topic, and would actually recommend it as a complement to Hannah Arendt's Eichmann in Jerusalem, the very work that Lipstadt attacked.
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Joachim von Ribbentrop, German Foreign Minister, Aug 1939