Hannah Arendt's portrayal of the terrible consequences of blind obedience, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil contains an introduction by Amos Elon in Penguin Classics. Sparking a flurry of heated debate, Hannah Arendt's authoritative and stunning report on the trial of German Nazi SS leader Adolf Eichmann first appeared as a ...
Hannah Arendt's portrayal of the terrible consequences of blind obedience, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil contains an introduction by Amos Elon in Penguin Classics. Sparking a flurry of heated debate, Hannah Arendt's authoritative and stunning report on the trial of German Nazi SS leader Adolf Eichmann first appeared as a series of articles in The New Yorker in 1963. This revised edition includes material that came to light after the trial, as well as Arendt's postscript commenting on the controversy that arose over her book. A major journalistic triumph by an intellectual of singular influence, Eichmann in Jerusalem is as shocking as it is informative - a meticulous and unflinching look at one of the most unsettling (and unsettled) issues of the twentieth century. Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) was for many years University Professor of Political Philosophy in the Graduate Faculty of the New School for Social Research and a Visiting Fellow of the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago. She is also the author of Eichmann in Jerusalem, On Revolution, and Between Past and Future. If you enjoyed Eichmann in Jerusalem, you might like Elie Wiesel's Night, available in Penguin Modern Classics. 'Deals with the greatest problem of our time ... the problem of the human being within a modern totalitarian system' Bruno Bettelheim, The New Republic 'A profound and documented analysis ... Bound to stir our minds and trouble our consciences' Chicago Tribune
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An excellent piece of reportage, Hannah Arendt's "Eichmann in Jerusalem" is a thorough account of a trial which attracted huge international attention.
Professor Arendt handles her subject deftly and with a light, dispassionate touch which I frequently found stylistically reminiscent of H.L. Mencken's journalism. A good deal of thoroughly unpleasant material is dealt with in the course of the trial, and Arendt's writing style neither trivialises nor sensationalises any of this.
The philosophical niceties of Eichmann's guilt are thoroughly explored, as is the uncomfortable fact of the illegality of his abduction by Shin Bet agents.
Eichmann's craving for importance in the world and for recognition in his own right appear, eventually, to be the main factors in his downfall, and indeed may have led to the lack of resistance whcich he offered to his captors. Such insights into the man's character are built, for the most part, chronologically, as the trial unfolds, which gives the work the necessary pace to avoid becoming bogged down in procedural detail.
Eichmann's sentence was never any more in doubt than that of the thousands he dispatched to the camps, proud of his efficiency in so doing. Indeed, it's hard to argue that it could have been otherwise, and at times even the defendant seemed keen for the gallows. Still, Arendt pays tribute to the professionalism of the trial judges, not only for their impartiality in judgement, but also for their resistance to the attempted politicisation of the proceedings by David Ben-Gurion and his administration.
An excellent, pithy account of a fascinating trial.
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