Given the vast literature on the Holocaust (including Timothy Snyder’s previous book), the question may be raised: is there any aspect of the Holocaust still unknown and in need of further analysis? The book here reviewed does not provide a definitive answer and is likely to generate contradictory responses in the reader. On the one hand, one is struck by the depth of the knowledge and exemplary moral concerns of the author who probably knows more about the Holocaust, Nazism, the Soviet system, and Eastern Europe (especially Poland) than most American historians. He has read everything (in several languages) relevant to these topics and parts of the world. His heart is in the right place: he doesn’t mince words about the horrors and the human beings responsible for them.

On the other hand—and notwithstanding the claims of some reviewers and the blurbs by...

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