Lest We Forget! Book Review: “Human Smoke” by Nicholson Baker

Human Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II, the End of CivilizationHuman Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II, the End of Civilization by Nicholson Baker

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Who would have thought that you could make a WWII book that was truly gripping by writing 475 pages of quotes or letters beginning in 1892 up until New Years 1942 in order to show the development of world thinking that led up and into World War II. Follow the thinking of Churchill, Hitler, Roosevelt and many lesser known and in some cases forgotten persons through their letters to understand the Peace Movement in India, England and the USA during this period. Then contrast that with the call to war and the attempts at appeasement by non-hostile nations as Europe comes out of the depression and the first invasions by Hitler’s army begins. Read the letters of dissident German Army Officers, the notes of starving, brutalized Jewish refugees and prisoners and the changes in thinking by Churchill and Roosevelt as the war develops. See how the German’s solutions to what they classed as the “Jewish Problem” developed to ultimately become one of genocide of not only those persons, but of many thousands of Gypsies, Poles, and other minorities. Contemplate our modern day situation as we see world leaders mock, harass, demean and insult other races, cultures and religions and realize that we are not that far from the precipice of world conflict and genocide. An eye-opener, and one that should be required reading and discussion in our secondary schools: lest we forget!

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