Publisher:  Rowman & Littlefield
Original Publisher:  Rowman & Littlefield
Published:  2009
Language:  English
Pages:   295

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About the Book

In examining one of the defining events of the twentieth century, Doris L. Bergen situates the Holocaust in its historical, political, social, cultural, and military contexts. Unlike many other treatments of the Holocaust, this revised, second edition discusses not only the persecution of the Jews, but also other segments of society victimized by the Nazis: Gypsies, homosexuals, Poles, Soviet POWs, the handicapped, and other groups deemed undesirable. With clear and eloquent prose, Bergen explores the two interconnected goals that drove the Nazi German program of conquest and genocide — purification of the so-called Aryan race and expansion of its living space — and discusses how these goals affected the course of World War II. Including firsthand accounts from perpetrators, victims, and eyewitnesses, the book is immediate, human, and eminently readable.


Chapter 1: Preconditions: Antisemitism, Racism, and Common Prejudices in Early-Twentieth-Century Europe Chapter 2: Leadership and Will: Adolf Hitler, the National Socialist German Workers' Party, and Nazi Ideology Chapter 3: From Revolution to Routine: Nazi Germany, 1933–1938 Chapter 4: Open Aggression: In Search of War, 1938–1939 Chapter 5: Experiments in Brutality, 1939–1940: War against Poland and the So-Called Euthanasia Program Chapter 6: Expansion and Systematization: Exporting War and Terror, 1940–1941 Chapter 7: The Peak Years of Killing: 1942 and 1943 Chapter 8: Death Throes and Killing Frenzies, 1944–1945 Conclusion: The Legacies of Atrocity Sources and Suggestions for Further Reading


A book that will likely be required reading in college-level courses for years to come. ... A detailed overview of the Holocaust.

--- History In Review

A meticulous, sensitive account of the Nazi race wars that combines a powerful narrative and explanatory drive at the same time as it illuminates individual lives and fates with searing precision. While giving full weight to the antisemitic core of Nazi racism, Bergen also shows why it claimed so many other groups of victims, and pursues it to its appalling climax in the wars of imperialist conquest and exploitation launched in 1939. This is a distinctive and remarkable achievement, as assured as it is readable.

--- Jane Caplan, University of Oxford

This precise textbook accomplishes much: it provides a wide-angle view of what the Holocaust was and is in clear historiographical terms, challenges students to think through facts and interpretations surrounding the historical study of the Holocaust, and complements — and is short enough to allow the inclusion of — primary sources in a course. I will use it as long as I can.

--- Jeanne Grant, Metropolitan State University

In eight well-written and concise chapters, the book examines the relationship between anti-Semitic ideology, an ever radicalizing Nazi revolution, Nazi aggression, the Euthanasia Program and the murder of the Jews. Again this is a book that will find its place on the bookshelves of most Holocaust scholars and should be included in any Holocaust library. (Previous Edition Praise)

--- Jewish Book World

In this brief survey, which is clearly written for an undergraduate audience, Bergen does an excellent job of introducing nearly all of the major issues surrounding the Holocaust. Copiously illustrated with photographs and maps, this succinct book is remarkably comprehensive, making it unusually accessible to nonexperts. Highly recommended. (Previous Edition Praise)


Doris Bergen encapsulates this complex history with intelligence and insight. She has written a sure and fluid introduction to the Holocaust. (Previous Edition Praise)

--- Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, author of Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust

Excellent, concise, searching—a fine text for introducing students to the history of and moral questions surrounding the Holocaust. Of particular value are the suggestions for further reading and reflection. (Previous Edition Praise)

--- Stuart Liebman, Queens College, CUNY

An excellent shorter work on the Third Reich and the Holocaust for general readers. (Previous Edition Praise)

--- Allan A. Ryan, Harvard University Summer School

Balances necessary content with analysis. Bergen clearly argues the intimate connections between war and genocide in a way that's accessible to undergraduates. (Previous Edition Praise)

--- Robinson Yost, Kirkwood Community College

Doris Bergen's War and Genocide: A Concise History of the Holocaust offers a view of the Holocaust that balances academic rigor, recent scholarship, and student accessibility. It provides a superb foundation for students to understand the complexity of the historical record and historiography of the Holocaust. (Previous Edition Praise)

--- Jeffrey Myers, Avila University

With exceptional succinctness and clarity, Doris Bergen provides the reader with a wealth of information, a series of illuminating individual experiences, and judicious commentary. (Previous Edition Praise)

--- Christopher R. Browning, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; author of Origins of the Final Solution

One of the most accomplished teachers of the Holocaust has written a brilliant incentive for anyone considering the daunting task of launching or improving a college course on the subject. With expert conciseness, Bergen presents a thoughtful overview of the issues and their place in recent literature. She gives us a judicious analysis rich with compassionate narratives of human experience, at once a tough account of this unique past and a meditation on its contemporary relevance. This is a courageous effort to remember—and to face the consequences. Bergen's book is a corrective to many existing accounts, confronting the reader not just with the sickening or sensationalized history, but with the question of why Hitler was such a big hit in Germany as well as in the popular media all around us today. (Previous Edition Praise)

--- Nathan Stoltzfus, author of Resistance of the Heart: Intermarriage and the Rosenstrasse Protest in Nazi Germany

War and Genocide may be a concise history of the Holocaust, but it covers a lot of contextual ground and in a clear, insightful, sensitive, and compelling manner. Doris Bergen writes about the genocide of the Jews, without neglecting the persecution, enslavement, and murder of millions of other victims of the Nazis in Europe during World War II and the Holocaust. She has done educators, students, and scholars a great service. (Previous Edition Praise)

--- Carol Rittner, R.S.M., The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey

Does the Holocaust's immensity mean that a concise history of that event is impossible? Doris Bergen, a meticulous scholar who writes with unusual clarity and precision, admirably shows that the answer is no. Wisely situating the Holocaust in the context of World War II, insightfully organizing her account around Nazi Germany's lethal quest for racial purity and territorial conquest, her War and Genocide provides an overview as brilliant and reliable as it is compact. Anyone who struggles to fathom the Holocaust's deep darkness will benefit from reading this well-crafted and much-needed book. (Previous Edition Praise)

--- John K. Roth, author of Holocaust Politics

War and Genocide provides a splendid, easy-to-read introduction to a complex, sometimes contentious, and shattering subject. Balanced and fair-minded, this book is highly recommended both for students of the subject and for interested general readers. (Previous Edition Praise)

--- Michael R. Marrus, Chancellor Rose and Ray Wolfe Professor of Holocaust Studies, University of Toronto; author of The Holocaust in History

Easily the best concise history of the Holocaust available; an ideal introduction to an enormously complex and challenging subject. Doris Bergen integrates the latest findings of Holocaust scholarship into an exceptionally well-written analysis of the key events and issues. No other Holocaust survey so effectively examines the persecution and murder of the Jews within the broader contexts of World War II, Nazi territorial expansionism in Eastern Europe, and Nazi measures targeted at homosexuals, the disabled, Sinti/Roma, Slavs, and other groups. (Previous Edition Praise)

--- Alan E. Steinweis, University of Vermont

Doris Bergen's study is the best concise treatment of the Holocaust to date. Her book is approachable for both beginning students learning about the genocide, and for advanced students who are looking for a high quality synthesis. Bergen tells the story in a compelling way that weaves the latest research into a fascinating narrative that makes the Holocaust more understandable for all readers. Her inquiry views the Holocaust from many different perspectives and will add to anyone's knowledge of the Shoah. Bergen has a wonderful knack for including poignant testimony with relevant analysis to make this horrifying experience more comprehensible. This book will certainly become the standard text for Holocaust courses. (Previous Edition Praise)

--- Glenn Sharfman, Hiram College