Richard Overy

Blood & Soil

Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning

By

The Bodley Head 462pp £25 order from our bookshop

The title of Timothy Snyder’s new book is more cryptic than his unambiguously named Bloodlands, in which he explored the phenomenal violence imposed on the territories between Russia proper and the shifting eastern frontier of Germany in the late 1930s. However, the term ‘black earth’ describes a large part of this territory – namely, the fertile regions of Ukraine, where much of the Soviet food surplus was produced. In practice, therefore, this book returns to the ‘bloodlands’ again, reiterating much of what is now familiar from Snyder’s previous work.

The difference lies in the approach. This time Snyder argues that Hitler’s world-view, expressed in Mein Kampf and the so-called ‘Second Book’ (an unpublished manuscript composed around 1928) was moulded by the idea of ecological disaster, specifically the notion that Germany could not feed itself adequately from its shrunken post-Versailles territory

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • With our February issue about to go to press, enjoy a slice of LR history - Hilary Mantel on Joan Haslip's biograph… ,
    • What did London look like in the 6th Century? Rory Naismith's 'Citadel of the Saxons' tries to answer that questi… ,
    • Start your week with a dose of Russian Revolutionary zeal. Donald Rayfield reviews Tobie Mathew's 'Greetings From t… ,
    • A treat from the LR Archive: exactly 20 years ago, Malcolm Bradbury reviewed John Updike's 'Bech at Bay' ,
    • ‘When bullets come close, the noise they make as they go past changes from a zing to a crack’ John Lanchester's dy… ,
    • Man with a Bloody Paintbrush: Robin Simon on Lucian Freud ,
    • Jane Ridley reviews The Diaries of Kenneth Rose (ed. D R Thorpe) ,