Synopses & Reviews
On the morning of November 7, 1938, Herschel Grynszpan, a desperate seventeen-year-old Jewish refugee, walked into the German embassy in Paris and shot Ernst vom Rath, a Nazi diplomat. Two days later vom Rath lay dead, and the Third Reich exploited the murder to unleash Kristallnacht in a bizarre concatenation of events that would rapidly involve Ribbentrop, Goebbels, and Hitler himself. But was Grynszpan a crazed lone gunman or agent provocateur of the Gestapo? Was he motivated by a desire to avenge Jewish people, or did his act of violence speak to an intimate connection between the assassin and his target, as Grynszpan later claimed? Part page-turning historical thriller and part Kafkaesque legal drama, brings to life the historical details and moral dimensions of one of the most enigmatic cases of World War II. This compelling biography presents a story with twists and turns that "no novelist could invent" (Alice Kaplan).
"On Nov. 7, 1938, a troubled Jewish teenager walked into an embassy in Paris, got in to see a low-level Nazi attache and shot him dead--a killing that gave Hitler a pretext for the savage, anti-Semitic orgy of Kristallnacht." Scott Martelle
"In his well-crafted study...Jonathan Kirsch manages to put some meat on the skinny frame of his protagonist and also to put a human face on his victim. In so doing, Kirsch has made a valuable contribution to our understanding of Kristallnacht." Washington Post
"[Herschel Grynszpan] faced what his biographer Jonathan Kirsch perceptively calls the 'existential threat of statelessness.' ...Kirsch has a dramatic story, and he tells it well." David Clay Large Los Angeles Times
"Reading this excellent, thought-provoking biography, one is all too easily reminded of Camus's 1942 novel, ."--Philip Kerr,
About the Author
Jonathan Kirsch is the author of the best-selling The Harlot by the Side of the Road and A History of the End of the World, the book editor of the Jewish Journal, and a longtime contributor of book reviews to the Los Angeles Times. He lives in Los Angeles, California.