By Tom Lampert
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Hardcover, 9780151007165, 304pp.)
Publication Date: November 2004
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Documentary history or gripping literature? One Life is both. Lampert's reconstruction of the lives of eight real people in Nazi Germany explores the difficult choices faced by a wide range of individuals.
Among them is Miriam P., a juvenile delinquent who finds herself on a path to the gas chamber. And then there is the rabid Nazi Wihelm K., who assumes the position of commissioner general in White Ruthenia only to fight for the lives of Jews in the Minsk ghetto; a retiree who is sentenced to death for scribbling a few words of anti-Hitler graffiti in a public toilet; and a family man turned SS murderer. As the stories of people on both sides of the terrible rift unfold, their interconnected lives branch out in astonishing patterns, shaped by the logic of racism as well as by accidents and coincidences.
Based on exhaustive research in archives all over the world, Lampert's stories re-create the horrors and terrible choices of that time in a way no conventional history could.
Born in Boston and raised in San Francisco, Tom Lampert is an independent writer and scholar in Berlin.
PRAISE FOR ONE LIFE
"This book will come to be seen as the latest chapter in a series of works-beginning with Claude Lanzmann's film Shoah, and including Schindler's List and the debate surrounding Daniel Goldhagen's book Hitler's Willing Executioners-on how we remember the Holocaust."-Frankfurter Rundschau
"I could hardly put the book down. It is an extraordinary documentary reconstruction and at the same time a riveting piece of literature." -Amos Elon, author of The Pity of It All: A History of the Jews in Germany, 1743-1933
"Readers may find themselves engrossed before they realize that the stories they find so captivating are firmly grounded in fact"
"Lampert raises provocative questions about the interaction between individual character and historical circumstance"
"There is a grittiness and intensity to these stories that will haunt the reader"
"A thoughtful study of the lives of eight Germans, some Jewish, some gentile, during World War II"