As we see flashes of an emboldened right-wing across Europe and the Americas, the thing that fascinates me most is how does a liberal, modern society transform into a population capable of killing on the scale seen during the 1930s and 40s.
Timothy Snyder’s book Black Earth gets closest to this answer than anything I’ve read previously, but what’s most disturbing about it isn’t the descriptions of violent death and acts of cruelty carried out by the Nazi’s, it’s that western societies are scarily close to repeating history.
For weeks I’ve been earnestly waiting for the release of Ian McEwan’s latest novel, Machines Like Me. McEwan is one of my favourite authors, he has an uncanny ability to be able to build a series of apparently independent scenes which, only when reviewed in the full context of the story, mesh beautifully with the theme of the novel. So when it was announced that he was to release a science-fiction novel I was ecstatic, especially one dealing with artificial intelligence. So, when it arrived I jumped straight in.
The Tattooist of Auschwitz is the story of Lale Sokolov, a 24-year-old Jewish Slovakian, who arrived in Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1949. After working his way through a series of roles in the camp, he is assigned the role of Tattooist. His task: scratching identification numbers into the arms of his fellow victims.