The Short, Strange Life of Herschel Grynszpan: A Boy Avenger, a Nazi Diplomat, and a Murder in Paris

Author(s): Jonathan Kirsch

Biographies & Memoirs

On 7 November 1938, Herschel Grynszpan, a seventeen-year-old Jewish refugee, walked into the German embassy in Paris and shot Ernst vom Rath, a Nazi diplomat. Two days later, the Third Reich exploited the murder to unleash Kristallnacht. Jonathan Kirsch brings to light this wrenching story, re-examining the historical details and moral dimensions of one of the Second World War's most enigmatic cases. Kirsch questions whether Grynszpan was a psychopath, as Hannah Arendt claimed, or an early resistance fighter, and whether he and his victim were intimately connected, as Grynszpan claimed. Part page-turning thriller and part legal drama this biography illuminates a life cast into the shadows of history.


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[An] excellent account...Reading this excellent, thought-provoking biography, one is all too easily reminded of Camus's 1942 novel, The Stranger. --Philip Kerr

Jonathan Kirsch is the author of the bestsellers Harlot by the Side of the Road and The Grand Inquisitor's Manual. He contributes book reviews to the Los Angeles Times.

General Fields

  • : 9780871404527
  • : WW Norton & Co
  • : WW Norton & Co
  • : June 2013
  • : 242mm X 166mm X 29mm
  • : United States
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : 8 pages of photographs
  • : Jonathan Kirsch
  • : Hardback
  • : 940.531842
  • : 336