Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Hunting Eichmann and a few other books

I was back in Louisville for a week this summer and able to take a trip to the bookstore with mom (a height of the trip for both of us I think). We came home with three books, one of which I could not put down: Hunting Eichmann (which we learned about from Al Mohler's summer reading list). The book tells the story of the search for Adolph Eichmann, one of the lead implementers of the Nazi's "Final Solution," who escaped capture and trial at Nuremberg. He amazingly was able to hide in Germany for five years before fleeing to Argentina. Much like the book Manhunt (on the hunt for John Wilkes Booth), if it were not for a few blunders, one wonders if Eichmann would ever have been found. It's a fascinating read and a page turner, and written with a unique balance of suspense. The rhythm of the book was such that each time it seemed the group capturing Eichmann was in the clear; another challenge loomed large and renewed the suspense.

But the negative part of reading a book of this type is that I inevitably begin rooting for the guy on the run – no matter how heinous of a criminal he may have been. It happened in Manhunt, and it happened here. It must be because of the nature of wanting to root for the underdog, or for the person that seems helpless. But what makes this author unique is that he will not let the reader stay sympathetic towards Eichmann. He has a keen sense for rhythm in this book, as he seems to be able to predict the points at which his reader is starting to pull for Eichmann. At this point, he reminds the reader of the horrible acts of genocide Eichmann approved, encouraged, and performed. This was no man to be pitied. He destroyed humanity and displayed no remorse – even 15 years later, as a feeble old man.

This writing style reminds of the singular command given in the first three chapters (the theological part) of the book of Ephesians. Ephesians 2.11 charges us simply to "remember." One word – one command – REMEMBER. Paul's charge is to remember everything that is true of a Christian in light of what is true of those who are "in Christ" (as outlined in Ephesians 1.4-11). In Hunting for Eichmann, remembering the horror of the holocaust drives the story and it drives those who pursued Eichmann. It is so easy to forget.

The other part of the story that inspires is the tireless work of the Mossad agents (Israeli equivalent of the CIA). They could not just waltz into Buenos Aires and ask for Eichmann, as the Argentinian government was sympathetic toward the Nazi's. The operation required a massive amount of planning and loads of money to pull of the grab.

The other two books we brought home were We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families and American Prometheus. The first was chosen because I am traveling to Rwanda in the fall to teach a class on the book of John to Anglican pastors. It is a collection of stories from those who faced the genocide in Rwanda. The second, American Prometheus came as a recommendation from a friend who also recommended The Making of the Atomic Bomb. I read the Atomic Bomb book a few years ago and was amazed by the incredible amount of effort it took our nation to develop the A-bomb. We essentially built the equivalent of the entire U.S. auto industry in three years to make two bombs. This effort required the use of the entire U.S. stockpile of silver (since copper was being used in bullets) for winding the gigantic magnets that split the atomic particles for the bombs. All this was done at the height of a World War that was already pulling resources from every corner of the country. Though other countries might have been able to discover the science of the bomb, no other would had the resources necessary to develop it during the war. The mastermind behind this effort was a man named Oppenheimer. This man was brilliant, hard charging, and able to keep an eclectic group of scientists focused on the task of the Bomb. American Prometheus tells more of his story.

Finally, one book that was left behind was The Third Reich at War (learned about here). However I'm happy to report that upon returning home, mother immediately ordered the book and already has it in her possession. I imagine that it will not take her long to read it since WWII history is her favorite genre.

1 comment:

John and Pam said...

I'm halfway through the Third Reich book. I think it deserves the title of "How Many People the Nazis Killed and How They Did It". I was overwhelmed with the numbers they killed.