213 episodes

Interviews with Scholars of Eastern Europe about their New Books

New Books in Eastern European Studies New Books Network

    • Society & Culture

Interviews with Scholars of Eastern Europe about their New Books

    Jeremy Black, "War in Europe: 1450 to the Present" (Bloomsbury Academic, 2016)

    Jeremy Black, "War in Europe: 1450 to the Present" (Bloomsbury Academic, 2016)

    War in Europe: 1450 to the Present (Bloomsbury Academic, 2016) is a masterful overview of war and military development in Europe since 1450, bringing together the work of a renowned historian of modern European and military history in a single authoritative volume. Beginning with the impact of the Reformation and continuing up to the present day, Professor Emeritus at Exeter University, Jeremy Black discusses the following key theme in this truly splendid book:long-term military developments, notably in the way war is waged and battle conducted; the relationship between war and transformations in the European international system; the linkage between military requirements and state developments, the consequences of these requirements, and of the experience of war, for the nature of society
    Adopting a clear chronological approach, Professor Black weaves a rich and detailed narrative of the development of war in relation to transformations in the European international system, demonstrating the links between its causes and consequences in the military, political and social spheres. Assimilating decades of important research as well as bringing new perspectives to the topic, War in Europe is a key text for students taking courses in European history, international relations and war studies and the lay educated public interested in early-modern and modern European history and military history.
    Charles Coutinho Ph. D. of the Royal Historical Society, received his doctorate from New York University. His area of specialization is 19th and 20th-century European, American diplomatic and political history. He has written recently for Chatham House’s International Affairs.
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    • 44 min
    Francine Hirsch, "Soviet Judgement at Nuremberg" (Oxford UP, 2020)

    Francine Hirsch, "Soviet Judgement at Nuremberg" (Oxford UP, 2020)

    How did an authoritarian regime help lay the cornerstones of human rights and international law? Soviet Judgement at Nuremberg: A New History of the International Military Tribunal  (Oxford University Press, 2020) argues that Anglo-American dominated histories capture the moment while missing the story.
    Drawing upon secret archives open for a few brief years during Russia’s liberalization, Francine Hirsch takes readers behind the scenes to private parties and late-night deliberations where the Nuremberg Principles took shape. A vital corrective told through the messy and all too human negotiations behind a trial that changed everything and almost never happened.
    Francine Hirsch is the Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of History at University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her first book Empire of Nations: Ethnographic Knowledge and the Making of the Soviet Union (Cornell UP, 2005) received the Herbert Baxter Adams, Wayne S. Vucinich, and Council for European Studies book prizes. She specializes in Russian and Soviet History, Modern European History, Comparative Empires, Russian-American Engagement, and the History of Human Rights.
    Ryan Stackhouse is a historian of Europe specializing in modern Germany and political policing under dictatorship. His forthcoming book Enemies of the People: Hitler’s Critics and the Gestapo explores enforcement practices toward different social groups under Nazism. He also cohosts the Third Reich History Podcast and can be reached at john.ryan.stackhouse@gmail.com or @Staxomatix.
     
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    • 1 hr 24 min
    Stephan Talty, "The Good Assassin" (HMH, 2020)

    Stephan Talty, "The Good Assassin" (HMH, 2020)

    History that reads like a thriller; The Good Assassin: How A Mossad Agent and a Band of Survivors Hunted Down The Butcher of Latvia (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2020) by Stephan Talty is the untold story of an Israeli spy’s epic journey to bring the notorious Butcher of Latvia to justice—a case that altered the fates of all ex-Nazis.
    Before World War II, Herbert Cukurs was a famous figure in his small Latvian city, the “Charles Lindbergh of his country.” But by 1945, he was the Butcher of Latvia, a man who murdered some thirty thousand Latvian Jews. Somehow, he dodged the Nuremberg trials, fleeing to South America after war’s end.
    By 1965, as a statute of limitations on all Nazi war crimes threatened to expire, Germany sought to welcome previous concentration camp commanders, pogrom leaders, and executioners, as citizens. The global pursuit of Nazi criminals escalated to beat the looming deadline, and Mossad, the Israeli national intelligence agency, joined the cause.
    Yaakov Meidad, the brilliant Mossad agent who had kidnapped Adolf Eichmann three years earlier, led the mission to assassinate Cukurs in a desperate bid to block the amnesty. In a thrilling undercover operation unrivaled by even the most ambitious spy novels, Meidad traveled to Brazil in an elaborate disguise, befriended Cukurs and earned his trust, while negotiations over the Nazi pardon neared a boiling point.
    The Good Assassin uncovers this little-known chapter of Holocaust history and the pulse-pounding undercover operation that brought Cukurs to justice.
    Renee Garfinkel is a Jerusalem-based psychologist, writer, and Middle East commentator for the nationally syndicated TV program, The Armstrong Williams Show.. Write her at r.garfinkel@yahoo.com or tweet @embracingwisdom
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    • 41 min
    Hope M. Harrison, "After the Berlin Wall: Memory and the Making of the New Germany, 1989 to the Present" (Cambridge UP, 2019)

    Hope M. Harrison, "After the Berlin Wall: Memory and the Making of the New Germany, 1989 to the Present" (Cambridge UP, 2019)

    In her new book, After the Berlin Wall: Memory and the Making of the New Germany, 1989 to the Present (Cambridge University Press, 2019), Hope M. Harrison examines the history and meaning of the Berlin Wall, Drawing on an extensive range of archival sources and interviews, this book profiles key memory activists who have fought to commemorate the history of the Berlin Wall and examines their role in the creation of a new German national narrative. With victims, perpetrators and heroes, the Berlin Wall has joined the Holocaust as an essential part of German collective memory. Key Wall anniversaries have become signposts marking German views of the past, its relevance to the present, and the complicated project of defining German national identity. Considering multiple German approaches to remembering the Wall via memorials, trials, public ceremonies, films, and music, this revelatory work also traces how global memory of the Wall has impacted German memory policy. It depicts the power and fragility of state-backed memory projects, and the potential of such projects to reconcile or divide.
    For more information on the history of the Berlin Wall check out these video clips with Dr. Harrison: Inside the Chapel of Reconciliation and Outside the Former Death Strip. And listeners might be interested in Harrison's Blog Post about arriving in Berlin a few hours after the Berlin Wall fell.
    Hope M. Harrison is a Professor of History and International Affairs at George Washington University.
    Craig Sorvillo is a PhD candidate in modern European history at the University of Florida. He specializes in Nazi Germany, and the Holocaust. He can be reached at craig.sorvillo@gmail.com or on twitter @craig_sorvillo.
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    • 1 hr 14 min
    Yitzhak Lewis, "Permanent Beginning: R. Nachman of Braslav and Jewish Literary Modernity" (SUNY Press, 2020)

    Yitzhak Lewis, "Permanent Beginning: R. Nachman of Braslav and Jewish Literary Modernity" (SUNY Press, 2020)

    The Hasidic leader R. Nachman of Braslav (1772–1810) has held a place in the Jewish popular imagination for more than two centuries. Some see him as the (self-proclaimed) Messiah, others as the forerunner of modern Jewish literature. Existing studies struggle between these dueling readings, largely ignoring questions of aesthetics and politics in his work.
    Permanent Beginning: R. Nachman of Braslav and Jewish Literary Modernity (SUNY Press, 2020) lays out a new paradigm for understanding R. Nachman’s thought and writing, and, with them, the beginnings of Jewish literary modernity. Yitzhak Lewis examines the connections between imperial modernization processes in Eastern Europe at the turn of the eighteenth century and the emergence of “modern literature” in the storytelling of R. Nachman. Reading his tales and teachings alongside the social, legal, and intellectual history of the time, the book’s guiding question is literary: How does R. Nachman represent this changing environment in his writing? Lewis paints a nuanced and fascinating portrait of a literary thinker and creative genius at the very moment his world was evolving unrecognizably. He argues compellingly that R. Nachman’s narrative response to his changing world was a major point of departure for Jewish literary modernity.
    Yitzhak Lewis is Assistant Professor of Humanities at Duke Kunshan University, China.
    Dr. Yakir Englander is the National Director of Leadership programs at the Israeli-American Council. He also teaches at the AJR. He is a Fulbright scholar and was a visiting professor of Religion at Northwestern University, the Shalom Hartman Institute and Harvard Divinity School. His books are Sexuality and the Body in New Religious Zionist Discourse (English/Hebrew and The Male Body in Jewish Lithuanian Ultra-Orthodoxy (Hebrew). He can be reached at: Yakir1212englander@gmail.com
     
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    • 55 min
    Gabriel Finder, "Justice behind the Iron Curtain: Nazis on Trial in Communist Poland" (U Toronto Press, 2018)

    Gabriel Finder, "Justice behind the Iron Curtain: Nazis on Trial in Communist Poland" (U Toronto Press, 2018)

    When Americans think about trials of Holocaust perpetrators, they generally think of the Nuremberg Trials or the trial of Adolf Eichmann or perhaps of the Frankfort trials of perpetrators from Auschwitz. If they think of Polish trials at all, they likely assume these were show trials driven by political goals rather than an interest in justice.
    Gabriel Finder and Alexander Prusin's book Justice behind the Iron Curtain: Nazis on Trial in Communist Poland (University of Toronto Press, 2018) shows that the truth was considerably more nuanced. The book is a comprehensive account of the trials of Nazi perpetrators conducted in liberated and postwar Poland. But it’s more than that—it’s a reflection on how politics impact justice, on what trials can teach us about perpetrator behavior, and on the ways in which ordinary Poles responded to the Holocaust. Finder and Prusin show that the trials were shaped by their political context. But this context allowed and sometimes encouraged the participation of a variety of actors and for a careful and thorough examination of documentary evidence and the testimony of survivors.  As a result, the trials were largely successful in achieving a kind of justice, as imperfect as that might be.
    Prusin died shortly before the book was published. This interview is dedicated to his memory.
    Kelly McFall is Professor of History and Director of the Honors Program at Newman University. He’s the author of four modules in the Reacting to the Past series, including The Needs of Others: Human Rights, International Organizations and Intervention in Rwanda, 1994, published by W. W. Norton Press.
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    • 1 hr 23 min

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