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Nuremberg: Infamy on Trial


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Table of Contents

The Trial Cast
Chapter I: Prelude to Judgment
Chapter II: The Prosecution Case
Chapter III: The Defense
Chapter IV: Judgment Day
Epilogue: The Verdict of Time
Source Notes

About the Author

Joseph E. Persico was the author of Roosevelt's Secret War: FDR and World War II Espionage; Eleventh Month, Eleventh Day, Eleventh Hour: Armistice Day, 1918-World War I and Its Violent Climax; Piercing the Reich; and Nuremberg: Infamy on Trial, which was made into a television docudrama. He also collaborated with Colin Powell on his autobiography, My American Journey. Persico died in 2014.


Persico ( Piercing the Reich ) has written an extraordinary, intensely dramatic re-creation of the Nuremberg Trials of 1945-1946 in which the U.S., France, the U.S.S.R. and Britain tried and executed Nazi war criminals. His stirring narrative, which attempts to conjure the mental states of the key participants, draws on interviews with prosecutors, interpreters, jailers, journalists and bodyguards; on hitherto untapped personal papers and archival documents; and on prisoners' letters and journals. In addition to conveying the courtroom drama that exposed the Nazis' mass murder of six million Jews and millions of others, Persico unveils behind-the-scenes wrangling. For example, defiantly unrepentant Luftwaffe chief Hermann Goring vied with Nazi arms minister Albert Speer, who preached confession and contrition. Meanwhile, the courthouse became a Cold War in microcosm as Soviet and Western judges clashed. Although Nuremberg may have been legally flawed, it was ``satisfying justice,'' concludes Persico, who suggests that the trials contributed to postwar German democracy. Photos not seen by PW. First serial to American History and Military History Quarterly. (May)

Persico offers not the history but the story of the trial of Nazi Germany's major war criminals. He is concerned less with legal issues and courtroom procedures than with a fundamental question: Did it all matter? His answer is mixed. While the tribunal's validity remains debatable, to demand perfection from the institutions of justice is to deny justice itself. Persico demonstrates that Nuremberg was not a kangaroo court; the defendants had their choice of attorneys and full access to the prosecution's documentation. If individual verdicts may be questioned, no saints or statesmen lost life or freedom. The trial demonstrated beyond question Nazi Germany's crimes and destroyed beyond hope any Nazi martyrology. Arguably, it helped lay the grounds for Germany's eventual democratic reconstruction. The Nuremberg proceedings may not have deterred later aggressors, but they at least established a precedent for law that supersedes national sovereignty. This well-written, well-researched volume belongs in all collections on World War II.-D.E. Showalter, U.S. Air Force Acad., Colorado Springs

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