Masters of Death by Richard Rhodes
The SS-Einsatzgruppen and the Invention of the Holocaust

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In Masters of Death, Rhodes gives full weight, for the first time, to the Einsatzgruppen’s role in the Holocaust. These “special task forces,” organized by Heinrich Himmler to follow the German army as it advanced into eastern Poland and Russia, were the agents of the first phase of the Final Solution. They murdered more than 1.5 million men, women, and children between 1941 and 1943, often by shooting them into killing pits, as at Babi Yar.

These massive crimes have been generally overlooked or underestimated by Holocaust historians, who have focused on the gas chambers. In this painstaking account, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Rhodes profiles the eastern campaign’s architects as well as its “ordinary” soldiers and policemen, and helps us understand how such men were conditioned to carry out mass murder. Marshaling a vast array of documents and the testimony of perpetrators and survivors, this book is an essential contribution to our understanding of the Holocaust and World War II.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

About Richard Rhodes

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Richard Rhodes is the author of twenty books, including novels and works of history, journalism and letters. His The Making of the Atomic Bomb won a Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction, a National Book Award, and a National Book Critics Circle Award. Dark Sun, about the development of the hydrogen bomb, was one of three finalists for a Pulitzer Prize in History. A Kansas native, he has frequently explored American history and biography in articles for national magazines. He lives in Half Moon Bay, California.
Published December 18, 2007 by Vintage. 368 pages
Genres: History, Travel, War. Non-fiction

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Exploring familiar themes of psychopathology and technology put to evil uses, Rhodes writes that the scarcely controlled violence of the SS Einsatzgruppen in Nazi-occupied portions of Eastern Europe effectively brutalized German soldiers, setting in motion a violent cycle that could become only m...

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Publishers Weekly

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This is not for the squeamish. Rhodes, a Pulitzer winner for The Making of the Atomic Bomb, has pulled together a mountain of research on the mass murders of Jews

Apr 08 2002 | Read Full Review of Masters of Death: The SS-Eins...

Publishers Weekly

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But he also suggests that genocide is new only as a word in the dictionary: "The Final Solution...was intended to be only the first phase of a vast, megalomaniacal project of privation, enslavement, mass murder and colonization modeled on the historic colonization of North and South America and o...

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Daily Kos

wrote a very good - and very chilling - book about the SS Einsatzgruppen as well.

Jan 31 2009 | Read Full Review of Masters of Death: The SS-Eins...

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