Monday, May 14, 2012

The Wiesenthal we never knew

Tom Segev gives a nuanced portrait of Simon Wiesenthal, the famed Nazi hunter and human rights advocate, in his full length biography, Simon Wisenthal: The Life and the Legends.  Part self-motivated genius and master of organization, part showman and pious fraud, Segev provides us with a portrait of a deeply flawed man, not always honest with himself or others.  Rather than demonizing this many sided person, Segev offers a rich look at his life.

If the outcome is not always pretty to read, we shouldn’t overly blame Segev (although at time, his tone is somewhat dismissive).  He was given unprecedented access to Wiesenthal’s documents spread across many continents.  As far as I could tell, most of his conclusions are documented with hard evidence.  Segev's work with Wiesenthal's papers, combined with interviews and secondary sources, provides a compelling, in depth analysis of a complex man.

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