Sunday, August 12, 2012

More Words, Or Do these people never learn?

Yet another inexplicable review on This review was for Martin Gilbert's excellent book on the Holocaust. One reviewer gives the book a single star because the book only discusses the attempt by the Nazi government of Germany to exterminate all Jews in Europe.

Now, the title of the book is "The Holocaust" which, you would think would give the reviewer a clue about what the book is about. However, the reviewer (after saying that Martin Gilbert is an "avowed Zionist" under the impression that this, somehow, proves something about the book) feels that the book is part of a Jewish effort to conflate the term "Shoah" with "Holocaust". This is often a ploy by those with an agenda that they would prefer not to discuss openly: They claim that their interest is purely linguistic and motivated, I guess, by a desire to preserve the English language.

The problem is that this particular change happened quite a long time ago. Initially, the term "The Holocaust" was used to refer to all of those who the Nazi's attempted to exterminate (including the Roma, homosexuals, and the mentally challenged). An excellent book on the topic is The Nazi Doctors by Robert Jay Lifon (one of the best history books I've ever read). However, by the middle-sixties, the term was being used exclusively to refer to the extermination of Jews. Why, fifty years later, anyone would feel that this makes a book "fatally flawed" is a mystery to me (except, I suspect, that the reviewer has a completely different agenda than the preservation of an abandoned definition).

Reading or read

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