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A new FS title has appeared, Martin Gilbert's definitive study of that tragic event, The Holocaust. This is a three volume slipcased affair. This is a very moving and dignified account of a hugely upsetting event. I really do not feel that I want a de luxe version of this book - whilst the FS presentation looks appropriate (and indeed commemorates the victims through inclusion of their artwork), to me it would not feel right having this book in a luxury format - better an ordinary, sober hardback.
Not sure I agree with (or indeed understand) your reluctance on this one David. To me this looks soberly designed, sincere and, taking words and images together, a powerful and worthwhile testimonial.
My only hesitation would be that reading the paperback edition of this work was the most gruelling and draining reading experience of my life.
I think your last paragraph sums it up Ian. I agree that it is well presented and a fitting memorial - but I still feel an extreme aversion to having it in this format. It could be because I am half Jewish from my mother - this might colour my feelings on this. Interested to hear what any other Jewish Devotees feel.
David, such personal reasons are of course over-riding. They make sense of your use of "luxury" and "deluxe", which I didn't understand originally. Out of context the words appeared to suggest something exploitative or distasteful about the edition.
It would be interesting to get the views of other Jewish members.
I feel less definitely about this than I do about luxury editions of Mein Kampf (discussed a few years ago), but my first reaction is similar to yours, Quicksilver. (If it matters, though, I'm not Jewish... as far as I know.)
The artwork, the fine bindings, they combine in adding or even creating pleasure in handling a book and reading, a sensual pleasure, and I find that disconcerting, considering the subject. Maybe I'm too susceptible to nice paper and pictures, or too severe, who knows. For instance, even something like Coetzee's Disgrace seems to me overdone, incongruous, in a fine binding. But works of fiction, however truthful, factual or unpleasant, are still works of fiction, whereas this is an objective history of humanity's nadir. Does such a thing really need a pictorial slipcase?
Eh. I'm not moved to replace my paperback.
I would be very interested in a separate, dedicated edition of the artwork (not limited to what FS included here), but that's another issue, and the FS probably isn't the publisher I'd turn to for that.
QS, as a "Jewish Devotee", I'm interested in this set, and generally feel if a book is worth reading and/or collecting it's worth reading and/or collecting in a satisfying binding. That was (and is) my position with Mein Kampf too. Of course, you'd want the thing to be sensitively and sympathetically done (to this day I've been unable to buy a hard copy of the Protocols, because the publishers tend to be fascists!), and the FS version seems sober enough, so I'll probably get this one. Also, I've never read it, and it's long been on my list (only read his "Israel", which was impressive).
>6 Leon, check out A Rumor About the Jews. This book includes the full text of the "Protocols" but in a historical context with discussions about its history and antisemitism.
>5 Lola, I agree about Mein Kampf, I only wanted a simple trade hardcover that was not produced by some hate group. I couldn't handle a fine leather edition.
For some reason a "nice" edition of Gilbert's book doesn't bother me. On the other hand, I've already got the standard trade hardcover and have no intention of "upgrading" to the Folio edition.
I agree with David that Gilbert's book is a sober and moving account, but unrelenting in the intensity of its testimony. I would have bought the FS version if I hadn't already got the original hardback. It's obviously not a book anyone could enjoy but it is a book one should read.
Incidentally, I've just ordered Holocaust : The Nazi Persecution and Murder of the Jews by Peter Longerich (not FS).
In my opinion this is a very well-presented set. I've never read the work and don't have it anywhere on my to read list, but if didn't have so many other books to buy I would get this regardless.
Interesting contributions. I think Lola hit the nail on the head - "....the artwork, the fine bindings, they combine in adding or even creating pleasure in handling a book and reading, a sensual pleasure, and I find that disconcerting, considering the subject."
For the avoidance of doubt, I am not saying there is anything tasteless or wrong in the FS presentation - far from it. This is a very important book and if FS bring it to a wider audience, then all the better.
The range of responses is wide, and I expect the FS would have anticipated as much. My own is coloured by a constant belief that any book which deserves to remain in circulation is best produced, immediate economic conditions permitting, in a form which, with reasonable handling, will see out a century or two and remain presentable. So my standards for book production are based on the trade hardbacks from 1850 to 1950 which made up most of my purchases when, around 1980, I became interested in reading. Modern trade paperbacks and hardbacks aren't "ordinary" to me, they're mostly a sorry letdown, to avoid the use of stronger terms.
Here, to my impression, the FS has presented what by all accounts is a work that should endure, in a shape fit to endure. I doubt that pleasure will be a danger for many from looking at its illustrations: somehow my personal aesthetic would have forgone on this occasion decorated boards and slipcase, then I'm quite often rather iffy about decorated boards...
I guess I am the only one that is on the other end of the spectrum with this book.
The Holocaust is awful and should never be forgotten. And it is part of our history - no matter how much we cringe from it. And the books about it - especially as good ones as these ones - should not be hidden or expected to look worse on your shelf than a novel or a book about Napoleon. Having such a book in a Folio edition is celebrating the fact that the world went through that and hopefully learned its lesson.
The printed page has not neglected many other atrocities of mankind's behaviour. In this monstrous instance the exercise appears to have been done with dignity and respect.
I agree with AnnieMod. I think by making this book the Folio Society is acknowledging that this is a story that needs to told for a very long time. This is a history that cannot be forgotten. A well made book has the power to continue to tell that history for much longer than a cheap crumbling paperback possibly could.
This isn't the first time they have published material relating to the Holocaust - they published Primo Levi's If this is a man (and The Return) as paper of their great works of the 20th Century and they are fine editions, illustrated sensitively with charcoal sketches - I am much happier having these which stand multiple readings better than the usual paperback
If only one person reads this (or the Primo Levi) and has their understanding increased then this is a worthwhile publication... there is obviously a very wide range of books providing an overview of the Holocaust and perhaps the case could be made that Martin Gilbert's book is not necessarily the one that you might recommend (particularly if it is going to be the only book on the subject that one is going to read)
I agree with Anniemod, too. It's not because this book gets the FS treatment that it would celebrate the holocaust. I don't see that connection. The more publications, the better. Fascisms is as present and relevant as ever. According to George Carlin: 'during WWII, the Germans lost and fascism won'.
Interesting views. I believe that a book like this specifically should be in a fine binding, in much the same way a religious text should preferably be in a fine binding. I believe we are entering a time in history where fascism can be a threat again, and the best defense is to remember what happened.
On another note, I don't remember the discussion about Mein Kampf, but I wouldn't want that in my home in any edition. I don't want to try to get inside Hitler's mind, and I don't think a mad man has anything to say worth reading.
Except that there will be other men in the future and if you know how one managed to make so many follow him, you will be able to spot the next one easier. Books are books - once written a word cannot be unwritten. It can be only forgotten. But as history had shown, nothing stays forgotten forever - so better to know what had been than to meet it again as something new...
Good point, Annie....but in my job I have met many insane people, and I swear it seems like every one of them is set off by something different and I have yet to find any connection between any of them. I am not speaking lightly of mental illness. I am a criminal defense attorney, and have encountered some truly evil individuals. But no amount of studying them seems to reveal any common link.
To me, it is suffiecient to know that whenever anyone starts blaming a particular group (be it religious, ethnic, cultural, etc.) for the problems of an entire country or the world, and begins to hint about mass murder, you are dealing with a maniac. I think we are safe from this type of insanity as long as there are a few living who helped liberate the concentration camps, but when they are gone and the stories they tell fade, memorials will become even more important. I remember a great uncle of mine who participated in the liberation, and some of the things he described sound horrible, but I doubt I could ever grasp the true horror of what he saw without seeing it. In the future, I'm afraid many won't believe the stories as they are passed down. I won't describe them, but I would not have believed my uncle's stories for their horror and graphic description except that I knew my uncle to be a good man and no liar.
If a fine binding prompts even one person from the next generation to learn about that horrible time, and perhaps prevent it from happening again, then it's worth it. The first-hand eyewitnesses are dwindling and soon books will be the only testament. My second-hand experience with that horror came years ago as a secretary in a law office listening to a sweet little old Jewish lady trying to figure out how to receive Canada's Old Age Security pension when all her papers said she was two years younger than her actual age. When she came here after the war she was told it would be easier to get in if she shaved a few years off. All she had to do to get the pension was have some of her relatives or friends sign affidavits swearing she was 65 but everyone who knew her real birth date had been killed in the camps. She's gone now so her story is lost, which is why it's so important that stories like hers and your uncle's are kept alive.
I agree but I'm not that pessimistic, there are many who are concerned about disseminating knowledge about WWII such as acclaimed books from Martin Gilbert, Winston S. Churchill, Max Hastings and Antony Beevor. And as long as they do, the younger generation will not forget.
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