Friday, October 15, 2021

Books: "The Happiest Man On Earth," By Holocaust Survivor Eddie Jaku


The Happiest Man on Earth: The Beautiful Life of an Auschwitz Survivor

By Eddie Jaku

Harper; hardcover, 208 pages; $24.99

On Tuesday, the world was saddened to learn that Holocaust survivor Eddie Jaku passed away in Australia at the age of 101. He is renowned around the world for his memoir, The Happiest Man on Earth, which was a bestseller in Australia last year and was released in the United States this past May.

"I have lived for a century, and I know what it is to stare evil in the face," said Jaku, who experienced the worst of humanity. He spent seven years in concentration camps, and inspired the world with his hopeful message that he always found a reason to smile and live each day to the fullest. His 2019 Ted Talk, which drew over 320,000 views, inspired his heartfelt memoir.

Jaku was born Abraham Jakubowicz in Leipzig, Germany in 1920, into a Jewish family. As the country was taken over by Adolf Hitler in the early 1930s, they could sense that things were going to turn horrific for Jewish people, and when Eddie was 13, his family acquired false papers and sent him to school nine hours away in order to keep him safe. 

For the next six years, Jaku lived under an assumed name, and he then decided to return home for a surprise visit. He was shocked t discover that the house was empty, his family vanished, and only the dog was left behind.

The next day, November 9, 1938, was Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, which was a day of extreme violence against Jewish people throughout Germany.  Eddie was beaten by SS thugs, arrested, and thrown into a concentration camp with thousands of other Jews across the country.

Jaku spent the next seven years confronting unimaginable horrors in Buchenwald, Auschwitz, and ultimately on a forced death arch through the Third Reich's final days. He was rescued by Allied soldiers at the end of World War II, and even though the Nazis took everything from him, they did not break his spirit.

After surviving unthinkable terror, Eddie was grateful for the precious gift he received and made a promise to smile every day to honor the six million Jewish people killed by Hitler. He kept silent for decades about his experiences, but eventually felt compelled to share his story and a deep responsibility to speak out and educate on how dangerous hate can be.

Eddie moved to Australia with his family in 1950, and lived there until the end of his life with his wife of 74 years, Flore. They had two sons, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. He volunteered at the Sydney Jewish Museum since its inception in 1992, and was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).

The Happiest Man on Earth is Kaku's tribute to those who were lost by telling his story, sharing his knowledge, and how he led such a beautiful. rewarding life. It is one of the most inspiring, heartfelt, and emotional works you will ever read.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Books: "The Hitler Years: Disaster, 1940-1945," Part 2 of Frank McDonough's Epic On The Third Reich

The Hitler Years: Disaster, 1940-1945

By Frank McDonough

St. Martin's Press; hardcover, $39.99; available today, Tuesday, October 12th

Frank McDonough is an internationally renowned expert on the Third Reich, and has written many books on that era of German history, including Opposition and Resistance in Nazi Germany and The Gestapo. He has appeared on numerous TV programs, including the six-part series, "Nazi Secrets," for National Geographic in 2012 and a ten-part series, The Rise of the Nazi Party, for the Discovery Channel in 2014. He is such a foremost expert on Nazi Germany that the History Channel places his Twitter account, @FXMC1957, in the Top 30 Most Popular Historical Twitter Accounts in the World.

The Hitler Years: Disaster, 1940-1945 is the second volume of a two-part series on the Third Reich under Adolf Hitler. The Hitler Years: Triumph, 1933-1939, which focused on Hitler's rise to power, was released this past May, and click here to read our review of that.

Disaster covers 1940 through 1945, when Germany went from the height of its power in 1940 to comprehensive defeat. It opens right after Germany entered into conflict with Poland, France, and Britain in September 1939. This was borne out of what McDonough argued in Triumph, that Hitler believed that only a war could bring Germany the room it needed to become a genuine superpower.

This was the start of what would turn into World War II, which is the central focus of this densely researched book, complete with maps to illustrate the war's evolution, as well as pictures to document the horror. 

McDonough looks at the military progress of the war and the key turning points for Germany, while also showing how Hitler, as well as the Nazi elite, military, and the German people, reacted to the conflict. There is a particular focus on how Germans coped with the ferocious Allied attacks from the air starting in 1942, and the collapse of German society near the end of the war in 1945.

Another focus of Disaster is the Holocaust, in which an estimated six million Jewish people were murdered in what the Nazis terms their 'Final Solution of the Jewish Question.' McDonough reveals how it began with the ghettoization of the German-occupied areas of Poland in 1939-40, built up to mass shootings of Jews in the Soviet Union in late 1941, and the building of purpose-built extermination camps, leading to its most murderous period in 1942, with Operation Reinhard.

Hitler's aim was to create a Greater German Reich of 250 million 'radically pure' Germans, and they would be completely self-sufficient in food and fuel resources. It would be a land-based military and economic superpower that would rival the United States. 

An important aspect of Hitler's foreign policy thinking was war, what he termed "the great purifier." He avoided military alliances and signing multilateral treaties, which made it inevitable that Germany moved forward unilaterally before World War II. 

In this excerpt, McDonough writes of the aims of Disaster: "It really is a distortion of history to see the Third Reich through the narrow prism of Hitler's mind. It must be understood that Hitler was one important ingredient in the historical events which unfolded, but he was ultimately powerless to control those events.

Adolf Hitler presented the conflict that began in September 1939 as a war of national defence forced upon Germany by 'Jewish wire-pullers' in Britain and France, who were determined to prevent Germany gaining living space. The same argument was used to justify the German attack on the Soviet Union in June 1941: again Hitler presented it as a 'preventive war' to stop the 'Jewish-inspired Bolsheviks' from attacking Germany. The decision to declare war on the United States in December 1941 was portrayed in a similar way. On that occasion 'Jewish wire-pullers' had apparently forced President Roosevelt to join the 'Jewish worldwide conspiracy.' A great majority of Germans accepted Hitler's totally false explanation of why Germany had been forced to go to war.

Two separate military conflicts are at the centre of events from 1940 to 1945 examined in this book. First, the epic German-Soviet War, which ran continuously from the beginning of Operation Barbarossa on 22 June 1941 to the end of the war on 9 May 1945. Four out of every five German soldiers who died in the Second World War were killed by the Red Army. Second, the separate war Germany fought against the British and French empires and the United States. The key events of this struggle were a protracted naval war; the war between Germany and the Anglo-French alliance in 1940, which lasted just six weeks; the German bombing war over Britain, particularly in 1940; the Anglo-American bombing war against Germany from 1942 to 1945; the key battles between Germany and Italy against the Anglo-American Allies in North Africa, in southern Italy, and in the period following the D-Day landings on 6 June 1944, ending in victory for the Allies in Western Europe in May 1945.

My aim here is to show that Germany's war against the Soviet Union was much more brutal and ideologically and economically driven, as well as more destructive and genocidal, than its conflict with the Western Allies, which was conducted mostly according to the Geneva Conventions on war. Germany's wartime conduct was undoubtedly influenced by Nazi racial ideology. Soviet prisoners of war were treated like animals and often starved to death, which Anglo-American POWs were treated well and given Red Cross parcels.

For all of Hitler's boasting, Germany at the start of 1940 remained a medium-sized economic and military power without easily defensible borders, surrounded by a range of potential enemies. As a result, Germany needed to limit the number of its opponents and any military campaign it undertook had to be rapid, because it lacked a sufficient industrial and financial base to sustain a longer conflict against huge economic powers."

Books: Patriots Dynasty Examined In "It's Better To Be Feared"


It's Better To Be Feared: The New England Patriots Dynasty and the Pursuit of Greatness

By Seth Wickersham

Liveright; hardcover, 528 pages; $30; available today, Tuesday, October 12th

A week ago, the country was captivated as Tom Brady made his return to Foxborough to face his old team, the New England Patriots and their coach Bill Belichick.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Georgia Is The New No. 1 In College Football Poll


The Georgia Bulldogs are the new Number 1 team in the FWAA-NFF Super 16 college football poll.

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Books: A Definitive Look At "The Master," Roger Federer

The Master: The Long Run and Beautiful Game of Roger Federer

By Christpher Clarey

Twelve; hardcover; $25.98

Christopher Clarey, then lead tennis writer for the New York Times,as covered Roger Federer since the beginning of his illustrious career. He was in Paris on the Suzanne Lenglen Court for Federer's first Grand Slam match and has interviewed him exclusively more than any other journalist since he rose to prominence.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Books: "Dabo's World" On One of College Football's Most Successful Coaches


Dabo's World: The Life and Career of Coach Swinney and the Rise of Clemson Football

By Lars Anderson

Grand Central Publishing; hardcover, 272 pages; $28.00; available today, Tuesday, October 5th

Lars Anderson is the New York Times bestselling author of seven books, including celebrated works on college football, including Chasing the Bear, The Storm and the Tide, Carlisle vs. Army, and The All Americans.

Monday, October 4, 2021

Mets Relieve Rojas of His Duties As Manager


Citi Field. Photo by Jason Schott.

One day after concluding one of the most disappointing seasons in their history, on Monday afternoon, the Mets declined to pick up the option for the 2022 season on Manager Luis Rojas.