The Short, Strange Life of Herschel Grynszpan: A Boy Avenger, a Nazi Diplomat, and a Murder in Paris

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W. W. Norton & Company, Feb 10, 2014 - Biography & Autobiography - 368 pages

"Reading this excellent, thought-provoking biography, one is all too easily reminded of Camus’s 1942 novel, The Stranger."—Philip Kerr, Wall Street Journal

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, The Short, Strange Life of Herschel Grynszpan 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).

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Eliz12 - LibraryThing

Heavy handed retelling of a tragic story. This account is hardly "untold" as the back asserts but is, rather, a well-known incident (and subject of another book) about a young man who kills a Nazi as ... Read full review

THE SHORT, STRANGE LIFE OF HERSCHEL GRYNSZPAN: A Boy Avenger, a Nazi Diplomat, and a Murder in Paris

User Review  - Kirkus

Biblical scholar and Los Angeles Times columnist Kirsch (The Grand Inquisitor's Manual: A History of Terror in the Name of God, 2008, etc.) examines a forgotten young Jewish assassin, eliciting new ... Read full review

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About the author (2014)

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.

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