The Nazi Hunters by Neal Bascomb



The Nazi Hunters: How a Team of Spies and Survivors Captured the World’s Most Notorious Nazi
Author: Neal Bascomb
Expected Publication: August 27th, 2013 by Arthur A. Levine

Summary: Adolf Eichmann was one of the world’s most notorious Nazis as the head of operations for the Nazis’ Final Solution. Essentially, he organized the transportation of the Jewish people to ghettos and concentration camps. This work of narrative nonfiction begins with the background of Eichmann’s role in the genocide. Then, in 1945, Eichmann disappeared from Germany and went into hiding. Due to the bravery of more than a dozen individuals, Eichmann is captured and put on trial for the world to view.

Review: This is an excellently researched work of nonfiction. I was amazed at the number of intricate details that went into the investigation and capture of this criminal. Neal Bascomb (who is also the author of Hunting Eichmann, the adult-marketed version of this book) was extraordinarily honest in this text. At times, I had to slap myself when I felt pity for Eichmann, as I tend to be too empathetic in my search for humanity in murderers. Bascomb doesn’t glorify the details—his account is genuine and based on numerous interviews of individuals who were connected to this hunt. I find that, in general, I become a bit disengaged when I read nonfiction, but this book kept me hooked; I wanted to read more about the courage and bravery of the Nazi Hunters. I highly recommend this text for all readers.

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: Nonfiction is, arguably, absent from many classrooms. English curricula tend to focus more on fiction, and I am interested to see if the Common Core will truly shift this reality (err, as much as the creators think it will, anyways). This text bridges the gap between fiction and nonfiction because it is written in narrative form. For students who despise nonfiction texts, this book will have appeal because Bascomb weaves in great characterization and detail. Teachers who enjoy employing literature circles in their classrooms might consider a nonfiction focus for the circles, and this book would make for a fantastic choice for students. Alternatively, it would pair very well with other texts from the Holocaust, such as Night by Elie Wiesel. When I finished reading this book, I couldn’t help but scour the internet for more details about other Nazi criminals and their captures/trials. I imagine that students will feel this same curiosity after reading this text, so I envision it would work well at the center of a research project.

Discussion Questions: Was Eichmann just following orders or is he a murderer? At what point does the excuse of “I was just following orders” become baseless and unreasonable?; Does Eichmann give up? Do you see him as a strong individual by the end of the text?; Do you think Eichmann’s wife was truly ignorant to his crimes? Do you think she should have turned him in?; How do Eichmann’s children’s views reflect on his character and views?

We Flagged: “‘For the first time in history the Jews will judge their assassins, and for the first time the world will hear the full story of the edict of annihilation against an entire people'” (Chapter 10).

Please note: The above quotes are from the Advanced Reader Copy. The e-book (a galley) did not provide page numbers. The quotes may change when the book is published.

Read This If You Loved: Night by Elie Wiesel, Hunting Eichmann by Neal Bascomb, Nuremberg: Infamy on Trial by Joseph E. Persco, books in the The Real Justice seres, or other works of nonfiction that concern WWII, Crime, Police Investigation, War, and Justice

Recommended For:

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Thank you to NetGalley and Arthur A. Levine books for sending me the Advanced Reader Copy!

4 thoughts on “The Nazi Hunters by Neal Bascomb”

  1. This book is being read by our Goodreads group and I was happy to see this review and I used your discussion questions and your classroom recommendations, providing this link as well. Thank you for such a thoughtful review—I also love anything by Steve Sheinkin and am happy to read so many exciting new nonfiction texts!

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