Finkelstein's background

Tue Aug 29 12:44:53 PDT 2000

Brad hits the fundamental problem with G on the head here, lies, sloppiness, awful prose, and other defects aside.

* * *

My view has been that Goldhagen's biggest flaw is his widening of the gap between the Nazi regime and other regimes. It's my view that if authority figures tell adolescent males with guns to shoot people, they shoot people--that you don't need a complicated and unique German *sonderweg* to explain this: it happens not just with Germans and Jews but with Americans and Vietnamese peasants, Communist cadres and kulaks, NKVD agents and old Bolsheviks or "wreckers," Hutus and Tutsis, Khmer Rouge and Cambodians who wear eyeglasses, and Yale students who think they control the magnitude of an electric shock administered to another human being.

Goldhagen's view of Nazi Germany as somehow special--rather than the most extreme example of a more general 20th century phenomenon of large scale genocide--seems to me to be the biggest flaw in _Hitler's Willing Executioners_, and the root of most of what is wrong with the book.

Brad DeLong


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