Page 349 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 54

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1996 Book Awards
341
H
o l o c a u s t
The Leon Jolson Award
Auschwitz: 1270 to the Present
, by Deborah Dwork and Robert
Jan van Pelt. WW Norton and Co.
This is the comprehensive history of the town that has, since 1940, be­
come seared into the psyche of every Jew: Auschwitz. That town, whose
history up to the World War II was typical of most small towns in Eastern
Europe. Developments in the town are paralleled by a historical overview
of Germany’s “Drang Nach dem Osten” in every era before World War I.
The book’s centerpiece is a careful study of the architecture and opera­
tion of Auschwitz as the notorious Nazi death factory where more than a
million Jews and hundreds of thousands of non-Jewish victims of Nazi
tyranny met their ends. The epilogue details commemoration of Aus­
chwitz’s infamous place in Jewish history—itself an often controversial
subject—since 1945.
I
s r a e l
The Betty and Morris J . Kaplun Award.
The Controversy ofZion: Jewish Nationalism
,
theJewish State
and the UnresolvedJewish Dilemma
, by Geoffrey Wheatcroft.
Addison Wesley Longman
Perhaps only an engaged “outsider,” like Wheatcroft, could give us
such a richly detailed and scrupulously fair account of the impact of a hun­
dred years of Zionist thought and action on Jewish self-understanding,
tracing the themes that have echoed from the days of Ahad Ha’am and
Herzl to the assassination of Yitzchak Rabin. Though he recognizes at the
outset that “Jewry as a whole was converted to Zionism not by arguments
but by events,” this is nevertheless a history of arguments of debates that
interpreted what Jews have done and what has been done to Jews in this
century. Weighing what Zionism has achieved and where it has failed,
Wheatcroft informs our understanding of the arguments that continue to
animate Jewish life in our day.