The Holocaust and World War II Almanac (3 Volumes)

Article excerpt

edited by Peggy Saari and Aaron Maurice Saari; coordinatin editors, Ksthleen J. Edgar and Ellice Engdahl. Farmington Hills, MI: The Gale Group, 2001. 1447 pp. $323.50.

Knowledge about World War II and the Shoah is necessary for world survival, yet the content of these shattering events is hardly known, let alone understood, by the general public. To dispel this ignorance, the Gale Group presents this three-volume set, designed for classroom instruction and general readership, that provides a broad scope of historical information drawn from primary sources and current research. Well crafted and clearly written chapters cover the important historical facts, episodes (diplomatic, military, political), topics, and personalities that have molded the sequence of events in the European and Pacific theaters of war as well as the Shoah.

All chapters contain a mixture of known and less-known data and in each chapter in Volumes One and Two there are primary sources sandwiched between introduction and conclusion sections, which enable the reader to access selected writing or words of key personalities or events referred to in the chapter. Also, Volume Two has detailed appendices on Jewish victims of the Holocaust; Nuremberg war crime trials; Japanese war crimes -- the Tokyo trials; and an overview on films depicting World War II and the Shoah. All volumes carry in the front matter an annotated timeline, glossary, and suggestions for student assignments or projects; and an extensive index and bibliography for further reading and research are found at the end of each volume. Interspersed throughout the volumes are illustrations, maps, and photos. Finally, Volume Three profiles over a hundred famous and infamous personalities, whose stories are inextricably bound to the horrific events of World War II.

As might be expected in a book designed to guide the reader into the historical narrative of World War II, there are bound to be questions of inclusion, exclusion, and interpretation. Chapters generally present reliable information on institutionalized anti-semitism, the rise of the Nazi party, and the implementation of the Final Solution. However, in-depth analysis of survey topics is not provided, e.g., the Historikerstreit on what direct role Hitler played in the murder of European Jewry or the debate over the "silence" (read moral indifference) of Pope Pius XII. …