The Holocaust: A Concise History by Doris L. Bergen


NF PB 2014

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!

This week, I did not review a picture book. This text, however, is an incredibly informative nonfiction text that will help teachers and students who are learning about the Holocaust. I wanted to feature it on Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday because this is a topic that is taught in classrooms with students of all ages.


The Holocaust: A Concise History
Author: Doris L. Bergen
Published September 16, 2009 by Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.

GoodReads Summary: In examining one of the defining events of the twentieth century, Doris Bergen situates the Holocaust in its historical, political, social, cultural, and military contexts. Unlike many other treatments of the Holocaust, this history traces not only the persecution of the Jews, but also other segments of society victimized by the Nazis: Gypsies, homosexuals, Poles, Soviet POWs, the disabled, and other groups deemed undesirable. With clear and eloquent prose, Bergen explores the two interconnected goals that drove the Nazi German program of conquest and genocide purification of the so-called Aryan race and expansion of its living space and discusses how these goals affected the course of World War II. Including illustrations and firsthand accounts from perpetrators, victims, and eyewitnesses, the book is immediate, human, and eminently readable.

My Review and Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: I read this in preparation for a Teaching the Holocaust Workshop I attended.

I felt a gamut of emotions while reading this important text: anger, disappointment, disgust, and utter sadness. Bergen excellently balances the timeline of the Holocaust in this concise book of fewer than 300 pages. While many books that are taught in schools focus on concentration camps during the Holocaust, Bergen provides a wealth of information of the events both pre-war and post-war. I appreciated the ways in which she dispelled many myths that exist in books, textbooks, and the media. I’ve read over a hundred books about this time period, and while I considered myself an expert, this book was humbling to me. I was unaware of many aspects of the Holocaust that Bergen described, and she situates herself as an expert (and rightfully so, as she has received accolades for her work regarding the time period). I believe all teachers of history and English/language arts (at a minimum) should read this text. Moreover, it would pair well with any fiction or narrative nonfiction about the time period because it gives context of the events. Teachers might elect to use short portions to inform students and contextualize events in history.

I Recommed This Book If You: Teach any book that is set during the Holocaust

Recommended For: 

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