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Hester Vaizey's Top Book Recommendations

Want to know what books Hester Vaizey recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of Hester Vaizey's favorite book recommendations of all time.

Dissonant Lives is not a standard 'history of Germany' in the twentieth century, or even of the German dictatorships. It is concerned with the ways in which Germans of different ages and life stages lived through this terrible period in German history, and how they interpreted, confronted, and responded to the multiple challenges of their times.

In volume two, Mary Fulbrook explores the move from the Nazi dictatorship to the communism that succeeded it, examining the experiences and perceptions of selected individuals, and how major historical events affected the course of...
Recommended by Hester Vaizey, and 1 others.

Hester VaizeyA more general sweep of 20th century Germany. A sense of what it would have been like to have lived through fascism and then communism. (Source)

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On the 2nd of August 1947 a young man gets off a train in a small Swedish town. He has survived the Lodz ghetto, Auschwitz, and the harrowing slave camps and transports during the final months of Nazi Germany. Now he has to learn to live with his memories. In this intelligent and deeply moving book, Göran Rosenberg returns to his own childhood in order to tell his father's story. It is also the story of the chasm that soon opens between the world of the child, suffused with the optimism, progress and collective oblivion of post-war Sweden, and the world of the father, haunted by the long... more
Recommended by Hester Vaizey, and 1 others.

Hester VaizeyFascinating in terms of the long-term consequences of the Nazi persecution. They humanise the experience very effectively. (Source)

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In the immediate aftermath of World War II, more than a quarter million Jewish survivors of the Holocaust lived among their defeated persecutors in the chaotic society of Allied-occupied Germany. Jews, Germans, and Allies draws upon the wealth of diary and memoir literature by the people who lived through postwar reconstruction to trace the conflicting ways Jews and Germans defined their own victimization and survival, comprehended the trauma of war and genocide, and struggled to rebuild their lives.

In gripping and unforgettable detail, Atina Grossmann describes...
Recommended by Hester Vaizey, and 1 others.

Hester VaizeyThis book shows just how messy and untidy the whole thing is, and how the consequences of war linger on. (Source)

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Christopher R. Browning’s shocking account of how a unit of average middle-aged Germans became the cold-blooded murderers of tens of thousands of Jews—now with a new afterword and additional photographs.

Ordinary Men is the true story of Reserve Police Battalion 101 of the German Order Police, which was responsible for mass shootings as well as round-ups of Jewish people for deportation to Nazi death camps in Poland in 1942. Browning argues that most of the men of  RPB 101 were not fanatical Nazis but, rather, ordinary middle-aged, working-class men who committed these...

Lawrence KaplanThe takeaway from reading this horror-filled book is that depredations on the scale of those that Browning describes can be perpetrated anywhere and by anyone. (Source)

Norman NaimarkThe essential lesson of Ordinary Men is that genocide is not the exclusive preserve of fanatics, racist thugs and homicidal maniacs. It is part of the human condition, especially of humans living in society. (Source)

Steven KatzThe reason this is such an important book is that when you study the Holocaust you ask almost immediately: How could people do this? How could men who had their own children, go out and murder other children? Or husbands take women and rip open their wombs and kill their infants and shoot them behind the ear? This book raised that question in a very, very strong and powerful way, based on... (Source)

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In 1989, the Berlin Wall fell; shortly afterwards the two Germanies reunited, and East Germany ceased to exist. In a country where the headquarters of the secret police can become a museum literally overnight, and one in 50 East Germans were informing on their countrymen and women, there are a thousand stories just waiting to get out. Anna Funder tells extraordinary tales from the underbelly of the former East Germany - she meets Miriam, who as a 16-year-old might have started World War III, visits the man who painted the line which became the Berlin Wall and gets drunk with the legendary... more
Recommended by Will Storr, Hester Vaizey, and 2 others.

Will StorrWhat Stasiland does really well, is it shows that these aren’t just arguments. That these people believed these views to the roots of their souls. (Source)

Hester VaizeyA collection of stories about people whose lives have been affected by the Stasi. (Source)

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