Ordinary Men by Christopher Browning

I wanted to post a quick note about Christopher Browning’s book, which I read a few months ago. I had been meaning to read it for a while and I really wish I had done it sooner. It may be the best book I have read last year and probably one of the best books I have ever read. It’s not just a book about the genocide of the Jews during the war, but also about human nature. It will make you sick, but you should read it anyway, because it’s a really important book. It shows how a group of ordinary men, hence the title of the book, ended up taking part in the murder of thousands of Jews during the war, even though they weren’t ideologues. Most of them weren’t particularly antisemitic, they were just conformist and cowardly, as no doubt most people would be in similar circumstances. This does not, of course, excuse them in any way, but it’s a very useful reminder of what even ordinary people can do and that one must not cultivate cowardice even in small matters. The second edition also has a great afterword in which Browning replies to Daniel Goldhagen’s nonsensical book.

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