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Eichmann in Jerusalem, Hannah Arendt (1963)

The book that taught America how to think about the Holocaust

by
Adam Kirsch
September 17, 2013

More than any other single book, Eichmann in Jerusalem taught America how to think about the Holocaust. Arendt, a German-born refugee from Nazism and a leading political philosopher, was sent to Israel by The New Yorker to cover the trial of Adolf Eichmann in 1962. There she discovered that Eichmann, despite his crucial role in the Holocaust, was no evil mastermind but a colorless bureaucrat. Arendt’s interpretation of what she controversially called “the banality of evil” helped to shape the world’s understanding of how ordinary human beings can be led to commit the worst crimes.

Adam Kirsch is a poet and literary critic, whose books include The People and the Books: 18 Classics of Jewish Literature.

Adam Kirsch is a poet and literary critic, whose books include The People and the Books: 18 Classics of Jewish Literature.

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