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Approaches to Auschwitz: The Holocaust and Its Legacy, Revised Edition

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Approaches to Auschwitz

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Approaches to Auschwitz
The Holocaust and Its Legacy
, Revised Edition
By Richard L. Rubenstein and John K. Roth.
Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville: 2007
ISBN: 0-664-22353-2.

Reviewed by Boris Segel - January 5, 2009

This revised edition of Richard L. Rubenstein and John K. Roth's landmark work, Approaches to Auschwitz: The Holocaust and Its Legacy is a boon to both scholars and students of the Holocaust in that it presents a comprehensive and up-to-date overview of the Holocaust from its origins through its long-term aftermath. First published in 1987, this edition has been fully revised, and incorporates all the latest research and new methodologies used to study the Holocaust. Since its inception, this book has received a wealth of praise and has become a standard text in many college level courses on the Holocaust. This revised edition will ensure the continued use and relevance of this remarkable work on a horrific period in history.

Approaches to Auschwitz: The Holocaust and Its Legacy was written by Richard L. Rubenstein, President Emeritus and a Distinguished Professor of Religion at the University of Bridgeport, and John K. Roth, the Edward J. Sexton Professor of Philosophy at Claremont McKenna College, as well as the director of the Center for the Study of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights, also located at Claremont McKenna College. Perhaps most unique in the realm of Holocaust texts, is that one author is Jewish and the other Christian, which brings a unique meld of viewpoints and cultures to this study. In writing this account, the authors have chosen to take an interdisciplinary and humanistic approach to this study, incorporating aspects of theology, literature, history, psychology, and more to this book. This combination of perspectives makes this book not only accessible to students from a variety of fields and backgrounds, but it is also the only book I've come across that delves into such a wide variety of aspects of the Holocaust, in one book.

The information in this book is organized into three sections: Holocaust Origins, The Nazis in Power, and Responses to the Holocaust. This information serves to presents a far-reaching survey of the Holocaust that not only looks at the historical record of the events that occurred during the Holocaust, but also the causes and consequences of the Holocaust. Also, covered in detail is the role of antisemitism in the Holocaust, and its religious origins. Most important, the authors paint a vivid picture of the very real horrors and reality of life for Jews under Nazi domination. This is not a book full of only dry facts and historical data, it is a living, breathing testimony to the events described, and as such it is an emotionally charged book to read. It is also a book that is likely to give you nightmares, and rightly so!

Approaches to Auschwitz: The Holocaust and Its Legacy serves as an outstanding and authoritative introduction to the Holocaust for college students, as well as for anyone with an interest in Holocaust history. Instructors will also find that this book is well placed to serve as a foundation book from which to design and teach a course on the Holocaust - one that can be directed toward students in a variety of fields including history, genocide studies, Jewish studies, religion, and sociology. It also deserves a place on the reading lists in general survey courses on modern European history, World War II, modern Jewish History, and related subjects.


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