I quite enjoyed Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin (if “enjoyed” is the right word for such stomach-churning subject matter), and his new book The Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning looks promising. From a review and an interview in The Atlantic:
In Black Earth, Hitler’s quest for lebensraum is placed in a global context. Snyder, for example, asserts that Hitler was inspired in part by the wide-open spaces of the American West, quoting the German leader as complaining, “Neither the current living space nor that achieved through the restoration of the borders of 1914 permits us to lead a life comparable to that of the American people.” The book focuses on the integral role that the state and its institutions played in determining the effectiveness of Hitler’s genocide. Where states were destroyed, Jews were murdered; where the state remained intact, Jews could find some protection in bureaucracies and passports. It was in the stateless regions of Eastern Europe where the Nazis were able to experiment with and calibrate the Final Solution, which they then tried to export back west….
Hitler is often depicted as the prototypical totalitarian—a man who believed in the superiority of the German state, a German nationalist to the extreme. But according to Snyder, this depiction is deeply flawed. Rather, Hitler was a “racial anarchist”—a man for whom states were transitory, laws meaningless, ethics a facade. “There is in fact no way of thinking about the world, says Hitler, which allows us to see human beings as human beings. Any idea which allows us to see each other as human beings … come[s] from Jews,” Snyder told me in an interview. As Snyder sees it, Hitler believed the only way for the world to revert to its natural order—that of brutal racial competition—was to eradicate the Jews.
More at the link.