Arguing that the European and white American destruction of the native American people was the most massive act of genocide in the history of the world, Stannard attempts to set the records straight on what befell American Indians over the last five centuries.
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For four hundred years--from the first Spanish assaults against the Arawak people of Hispaniola in the 1490s to the U.S. Army's massacre of Sioux Indians at Wounded Knee in the 1890s--the indigenous inhabitants of North and South America endured an unending firestorm of violence. During that time the native population of the Western Hemisphere declined by as many as 100 million people. Indeed, as historian David E. Stannard argues in this stunning new book, the European and white American destruction of the native peoples of the Americas was the most massive act of genocide in the history of the world. Stannard begins with a portrait of the enormous richness and diversity of life in the Americas prior to Columbus's fateful voyage in 1492. He then follows the path of genocide from the Indies to Mexico and Central and South America, then north to Florida, Virginia, and New England, and finally out across the Great Plains and Southwest to California and the North Pacific Coast. Stannard reveals that wherever Europeans or white Americans went, the native people were caught between imported plagues and barbarous atrocities, typically resulting in the annihilation of 95 percent of their populations. What kind of people, he asks, do such horrendous things to others? His highly provocative answer: Christians. Digging deeply into ancient European and Christian attitudes toward sex, race, and war, he finds the cultural ground well prepared by the end of the Middle Ages for the centuries-long genocide campaign that Europeans and their descendants launched--and in places continue to wage--against the New World's original inhabitants. Advancing a thesis that is sure to create much controversy, Stannard contends that the perpetrators of the American Holocaust drew on the same ideological wellspring as did the later architects of the Nazi Holocaust. It is an ideology that remains dangerously alive today, he adds, and one that in recent years has surfaced in American justifications for large-scale military intervention in Southeast Asia and the Middle East. At once sweeping in scope and meticulously detailed, American Holocaust is a work of impassioned scholarship that is certain to ignite intense historical and moral debate.
Prize-winning historian Peter Novick illuminates the reasons Americans ignored the Holocaust for so long -- how dwelling on German crimes interfered with Cold War mobilization; how American Jews, not wanting to be thought of as victims, avoided the subject. He explores in absorbing detail the decisions that later moved the Holocaust to the center of American life: Jewish leaders invoking its memory to muster support for Israel and to come out on top in a sordid competition over what group had suffered most; politicians using it to score points with Jewish voters. With insight and sensitivity, Novick raises searching questions about these developments. Have American Jews, by making the Holocaust the emblematic Jewish experience, given Hitler a posthumous victory, tacitly endorsing his definition of Jews as despised pariahs? Does the Holocaust really teach useful lessons and sensitize us to atrocities, or, by making the Holocaust the measure, does it make lesser crimes seem "not so bad"? What are we to make of the fact that while Americans spend hundreds of millions of dollars for museums recording a European crime, there is no museum of American slavery?
In this volume Yehudi Bauer describes the efforts made to aid European victims of World War II by the New York-based American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, American Jewry's chief representative abroad. Drawing on the mass of unpublished material in the JDC archives and other repositories, as well as on his thorough knowledge of recent and continuing research into the Holocaust, he focuses alternately on the personalities and institutional decisions in New York and their effects on the JDC workers and their rescue efforts in Europe. He balances personal stories with a country-by-country account of the fate of Jews through ought the war years: the grim statistics of millions deported and killed are set in the context of the hopes and frustrations of the heroic individuals and small groups who actively worked to prevent the Nazis' Final Solution. This study is essential reading for anyone who seeks to understand the American Jewish response to European events from 1939 to 1945. Bauer confronts the tremendous moral and historical questions arising from JDC's activities. How great was the danger? Who should be saved first? Was it justified to use illegal or extralegal means? What country would accept Jewish refugees? His analysis also raises an issue which perhaps can never be answered: could American Jews have done more if they had grasped the reality of the Holocaust?
This edited collection of more than one hundred primary sources from the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s--including newspaper and magazine articles, popular culture materials, and government records--reveals how Americans debated their responsibility to respond to Nazism. It includes valuable resources for students and historians seeking to shed light on this dark era in world history.
In this touching account, veteran New York Times reporter Joseph Berger describes how his own family of Polish Jews -- with one son born at the close of World War II and the other in a "displaced persons" camp outside Berlin -- managed against all odds to make a life for themselves in the utterly foreign landscape of post-World War II America. Paying eloquent homage to his parents' extraordinary courage, luck, and hard work while illuminating as never before the experience of 140,000 refugees who came to the United States between 1947 and 1953, Joseph Berger has captured a defining moment in history in a riveting and deeply personal chronicle.
This most complete study to date of American press reactions to the Holocaust sets forth in abundant detail how the press nationwide played down or even ignored reports of Jewish persecutions over a twelve-year period.
In the face of an outpouring of research on Holocaust history, Holocaust Angst takes an innovative approach. It explores how Germans perceived and reacted to how Americans publicly commemorated the Holocaust. It argues that a network of mostly conservative West German officials and their associates in private organizations and foundations, with Chancellor Kohl located at its center, perceived themselves as the "victims" of the afterlife of the Holocaust in America. They were concerned that public manifestations of Holocaust memory, such as museums, monuments, and movies, could severely damage the Federal Republic's reputation and even cause Americans to question the Federal Republic's status as an ally. From their perspective, American Holocaust memorial culture constituted a stumbling block for (West) German-American relations since the late 1970s. Providing the first comprehensive, archival study of German efforts to cope with the Nazi past vis-à-vis the United States up to the 1990s, this book uncovers the fears of German officials-some of whom were former Nazis or World War II veterans-about the impact of Holocaust memory on the reputation of the Federal Republic and reveals their at times negative perceptions of American Jews. Focusing on a variety of fields of interaction, ranging from the diplomatic to the scholarly and public spheres, the book unearths the complicated and often contradictory process of managing the legacies of genocide on an international stage. West German decision makers realized that American Holocaust memory was not an "anti-German plot" by American Jews and acknowledged that they could not significantly change American Holocaust discourse. In the end, German confrontation with American Holocaust memory contributed to a more open engagement on the part of the West German government with this memory and eventually rendered it a "positive resource" for German self-representation abroad. Holocaust Angst offers new perspectives on postwar Germany's place in the world system as well as the Holocaust culture in the United States and the role of transnational organizations.