The Word On: Jonathan Littell

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The Independent Culture

"Littell [in 'The Kindly Ones'] knows almost everything there is to know about Nazi Germany, gets every detail right, and gives us the whole thing without sugar coating, or any attempt to make it any easier on your conscience... Littell is a genius, both as a historian, and as a novelist, but he isn't trying to make you feel good about yourself, or feel morally superior to the Germans, or come away from the book with the feeling that anything has been gained or proved by the murder in cold blood of six million people."

Michael Korda (

"To plumb the Nazi psyche – and this is unmistakably 'The Kindly Ones.'s purpose... it will not do to make a visit to Hell in the person of an "ordinary" human being... [Max] Aue tells us that we, you and I, are the very Devil; now you shall hear, the book tells us, how horrible you truly are. This... thrills us, and is thoroughly deceitful... Aue is serving his own self-exculpatory purposes, while his author is equally well served."

Mark Thwaite (ready

"Littell spent seven years working for the NGO Action Against Hunger [in] Bosnia... Chechnya, the Congo, Sierra Leone [and] Afghanistan... Is it not the most basic background and likely impulse for the writing of a novel about mass murder, a great deal... the result or the corollary of starvation?"

Andrew Seal (biogr