Anatomy of a Genocide: The Life and Death of a Town Called Buczacz

S. & S. Jan. 2018. 416p. illus. maps. notes. index. ISBN 9781451684537. $30; ebk. ISBN 9781451684551. HIST
How did Nazi genocide happen? Barton (history, Brown Univ.; Hitler's Army) answers the question by offering a thorough history of one town in Eastern Europe, where genocide occurred. Buczacz, now in western Ukraine, was home to Shmuel Yosef Agnon, the only Hebrew language writer to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, as well as the author's mother. Since the Middle Ages, the town has been populated by Roman Catholic Poles, Greek Orthodox Ukrainians, and Jews who lived side by side and for long periods harmoniously. The three groups acting out their conflicting views of who really belonged in Buczacz in an era of striving nationalism created conditions in which friends, neighbors, and even family members might perpetrate or aid in violence—and debates over which group was a colonizer, oppressor, or victim. By laying out the complex history of the social interactions of ethnic groups spanning a period of time, Bartov demonstrates how overly simple conceptions of Nazi genocide inadequately explain the reality. He utilizes testimonies, interviews, and judicial and other official records from nine countries to add supporting research.
VERDICT New thinking about the nature of genocide, recommended especially for nonspecialists.

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