The Nazi Hunters
Written by Neal Bascomb
Arthur Levine, 2013, 256 pp.
Bascomb has adapted his 2009 adult book, Hunting Eichman, to make it available for a younger audience by shortening the story and altering the language for an adolescents. The Nazi Hunters includes a list of participants to help readers keep track of the extensive group of individuals involved in the mission to capture Eichman. In addition, Bascomb provides numerous black and white photos that add a multilayered and visual dimension to the story. Notes throughout the book make clear the existence of conflicting evidence about Eichman’s identity and skillfully aids the reader in the mission’s progress from beginning to end.
Eichman escaped capture by the Allies and slowly made his way to Argentina where he lived in a small, paltry home with his wife and four sons who had gone ahead to Argentina. Eichman was exposed when his oldest son was invited to his girlfriend’s home and her Jewish father became suspicious after a conversation with the boy. The mission to capture Eichman is permeated throughout with complications that Bascom skillfully covers. In part, this book reads like a suspenseful thriller in which the reader is left wondering what will happen next despite inferring from the beginning that Eichman is eventually captured. The suspense of this story is more a question of how the Israeli operatives deal with obstacles instead of whether or not the obstacles will end the mission.
This book could accompany any unit on World War II or human rights. The text can help students understand how Germany, one of the most advanced countries in the world in the 1930s, allowed Hitler’s unspeakable acts of inhumanity and cruelty. It is important to know history, perpetrators of atrocities, and those who fought to bring those who committed crimes to justice.
This book is an important addition to non-fiction literature about the Holocaust for several reasons. Bascomb meticulously documents the process Wiesenthal used to bring war criminals to justice, as well as how, in the post-war chaos, many war criminals were able to escape Germany and hide for years in other countries. Readers can see the multiple sides of Eichman’s personality and how he could mastermind the extermination of thousands of Hungarian Jews, while at the same time play the role of husband and father. Lastly, the book also demonstrates how many Jews affected by the Holocaust went to great lengths to bring war criminals to trial.
Several books that can be paired with Nazi Hunters are: Adolf Eichman: Executing the “Final Solution” (Thomas Streissguth, 2005), The Importance of Series – Simon Wiesenthal (Linda Jacobs-Altman, 1999), and Encyclopedia of War Crimes & Genocide (2 Volume Set by Leslie Alan Horvitz and Christopher Catherwood, 2011). Adolf Eichman: Executing the “Final Solution” is a thorough survey of the career of Adolf Eichmann and his carrying out of the Final Solution in Hungary of over 700,000 Jews. The Importance Of Series – Simon Wiesenthal is one book in a three-book series that include biographies of Adolf Hitler, and Heinrich Himmler. Simon Wiesenthal was a Holocaust survivor who used his post-war anguish to tirelessly bring war criminals to justice. The Encyclopedia of War Crimes & Genocide studies modern-day crimes against humanity that take place during war and peacetime.
Though born in Denver, Colorado in 1971, Neal Bascomb was raised in St. Louis, Missouri and spent a lot of his youth at the ice rink practicing hockey. After graduating from Miami University he worked as a journalist in both London and Dublin. Later, he moved to New York where he became an editor for St. Martin’s Press. Bascomb eventually left the states again for a period as a columnist for a Parisian magazine. In 2000, Bascomb turned to writing books as a full-time career.
Megan McCaffrey, Governors State University, Illinois