An eye-opening account of the rise of science in Germany through to Hitler’s regime, and the frightening Nazi experiments that occurred during the Reich
A shocking account of Nazi science, and a compelling look at the the dramatic rise of German science in the nineteenth century, its preeminence in the early twentieth, and the frightening developments that led to its collapse in 1945, this is the compelling story of German scientists under Hitler’s regime. Weaving the history of science and technology with the fortunes of war and the stories of men and women whose discoveries brought both benefits and destruction to the world, Hitler's Scientists raises questions that are still urgent today. As science becomes embroiled in new generations of weapons of mass destruction and the war against terrorism, as advances in biotechnology outstrip traditional ethics, this powerful account of Nazi science forms a crucial commentary on the ethical role of science.
Cornwell's devastating bestseller Hitler's Pope is a tough act to follow. Here, the author again claims the moral high ground to critique the ethical and political choices of scientists in Hitler's Germany and to caution that science under the Western democracies in the Cold War and the war on terrorism also wielded and continues to wield the "Janus-faced power for good and evil." Today's best writers on the Hitler era have outgrown the kind of marginalizing polemic Cornwell employs here. His analysis of Nazi science, while built on sound research and often thoughtful critique, sinks to the sensationalism of "Faustian bargains," "scientific prostitutions" and Arendt's "banality of evil." Unsavory concepts are qualified as "pseudo-science," "half-baked," or simply "science" in quotation marks so that the undiscerning reader won't mistake them for the real thing. All the hot-button issues are on display here: racial hygiene; eugenics; the Nazi purge of academia and Germany's forfeiture of its greatest physicists to the Allies because they were Jewish; and human experimentation on concentration camp inmates. The author also details the science of war in Germany, from rockets and secret codes to radar and the atomic bomb, and how the Allies plundered the country's military technology and expertise after the fall of the Third Reich. Cornwell is a gifted writer with a fascinating story to tell, which he ably and engagingly accomplishes despite the hyperbole. But in his pursuit of comfort in right over wrong, the author forfeits objectivity and perhaps a greater understanding of the sources and the whys of the Nazi phenomenon. Despite this,, the author's articulate though subtly lurid repackaging of Nazi-era crimes and curiosities should guarantee much attention and brisk sales with general readers. Illus. not seen by PW.