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Thu Jun 30 21:25:44 SAST 2016

Look whose book is back

Andrew Donaldson | 06 January, 2016 00:39
Andrew Donaldson. File photo

January's hottest police procedural

Eva Dolan's DI Zigic and DS Ferreira series (Vintage)

Dolan's acclaimed debut, 2014's Long Way Home, introduced her two detectives with a hate crimes unit in Peterborough, an English post-industrial peri-urban backwater where racial and ideological tensions run high. The first novel unpacks the killings of migrant workers against a backdrop of slum landlords and political nastiness. Her follow-up, 2015's Tell No Tales, mines a neo-Nazi murk with a villain who's reminiscent of Clive Derby-Lewis. Zigic and Ferreira return at the end of the month for their third outing, After You Die.

The issue

A new version of Mein Kampf will be released in Germany on Friday - eight days after a 70-year embargo on its republishing expired. It was banned by the Allies at the end of the war, and sole copyright was passed on to the state of Bavaria which had since steadfastly refused to release Adolf Hitler's anti-Semitic, racist text. But, under German law, that copyright expired on Thursday, December 31.

For the past three years, researchers at Munich's Institute for Contemporary History have been working on the new version, a two-volume, 2000-page edition with more than 3500 academic annotations that contextualise and emphasise its flaws, slurs and outright lies.

Hitler has, to the discomfort of some, gradually crept back into Germany's popular culture; a film, for example, of Timur Vermes's best-selling comic novel, Look Who's Back, in which a resurrected Führer stumbles Borat-style through modern German society, was a box-office smash there in October.

But some Jewish groups have cautiously approved Mein Kampf's reappearance. As Josef Schuster, of Germany's Central Council of Jews, put it, "Knowledge of Mein Kampf is still important to explain National Socialism and the Holocaust. Therefore, there are no objections to a scientifically annotated edition for research and teaching purposes."

Washington's David Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies has, meanwhile, come up with a novel approach to the controversy: comics. Its director, Rafael Medoff, told the New York Times; "Teenagers are much more likely to read a comic book than a 300-page history book, and I say that as the author of more than a few 300-page history books."

Medoff wrote the first in the series The Book That Hitler Didn't Want You To Read. Drawn by Dean Motter, it relates how journalist Alan Cranston, offended by the bowdlerised, English translation of Hitler's book on sale in the US, printed his own "version" in 1937. Trimmed of repetitious waffle with the hatred restored, he produced a 32-page tabloid version of Mein Kampf that suitably horrified readers.

It was a runaway success and sold half-a-million copies before Hitler successfully sued Cranston for copyright violation.

The bottom line

"Be quiet, you little bastard!" - Stories I Tell Myself: Growing Up With Hunter S Thompson by Juan F Thompson (Alfred A Knopf)

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