Why?, Review

Why? Explaining the Holocaust by Peter Hayes

4 out of 5 stars

Peter Hayes brings a lucid and thoughtful voice to the discussion of Holocaust history and the events surrounding it. He writes his book with an eye at explaining the complicated and difficult parts with simplicity and nuance, and he does so with astonishing grace. His writing is beautiful, thoughtful and concise.

The book is designed to answer some of the biggest questions that people have about the Holocaust. Each chapter is a major question, and the rest of the chapter is the answer. The answers are never simplistic, but nor are they so complex as to be inscrutable. Hayes connects the dots and gives the reader all the relevant backstory in order to fill in the picture of what happened.

This book is a welcome addition to the history of the Holocaust, and it gives the reader a full understanding of how it happened, why it happened, and why no one stopped it from happening. Anyone at all will benefit from reading this book now, and for many years to come. His detailed account brings solemnity and truth to an often fraught and emotional topic.

The only complaint I have about this book is the author’s tendency to throw around a lot of names. There were many, many different Nazi leaders mentioned once or twice in one chapter, and then they would be referenced again fifty pages later. Many times it was hard to keep track of who was responsible for what. Outside of this one detail, though, it was a compelling and interesting read that was both educational and necessary.


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