Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem
Adolf Eichmann was a Nazi lieutenant colonel responsible for transporting thousands of Jews to concentration camps. After the war, he fled to Argentina. In 1960 he was kidnapped by Israeli intelligence and was brought to Jerusalem to face trial. This book is a report and discussion about the trial. Although Arendt writes in a postcript of her book, "The present report deals with nothing but the extent to which the court in Jerusalem succeeded in fulfilling the demands of justice," Arendt discusses broader issues such as the nature of guilt, justice and totalitarianism.
Arendt puts forward the convincing argument that there was a political agenda driving the trial. She believes that the political agenda perverts justice. The pursuit of justice is further complicated by how Eichmann does not see his past actions as wrong, but sincerely believes that he is a friend to Jewish people. "Despite all the efforts of the prosecution," Arendt writes, "everybody could see that this man was not a 'monster,' but it was difficult indeed not to suspect that he was a clown" (p. 54).
The book is thought provoking and a truly great moral discussion about not only the holocaust and its legacy, but also the pursuit of justice.
The New York Review of Books, 'Eichmann in Jerusalem' by Lionel Abel and Tony Judt