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The crucial technology was a precursor to the computer, the IBM Hollerith punch card machine, which Black glimpsed on exhibit at the U.S. Holocaust Museum, inspiring his five-year, top-secret book project. The Hollerith was used to tabulate and alphabetize census data. Black says the Hollerith and its punch card data ("hole 3 signified homosexual ... hole 8 designated a Jew") was indispensable in rounding up prisoners, keeping the trains fully packed and on time, tallying the deaths, and organizing the entire war effort. Hitler's regime was fantastically, suicidally chaotic; could IBM have been the cause of its sole competence: mass-murdering civilians? Better scholars than I must sift through and appraise Black's mountainous evidence, but clearly the assessment is overdue.
The moral argument turns on one question: How much did IBM New York know about IBM Germany's work, and when? Black documents a scary game of brinksmanship orchestrated by IBM chief Watson, who walked a fine line between enraging U.S. officials and infuriating Hitler. He shamefully delayed returning the Nazi medal until forced to--and when he did return it, the Nazis almost kicked IBM and its crucial machines out of Germany. (Hitler was prone to self-defeating decisions, as demonstrated in How Hitler Could Have Won World War II.)
Black has created a must-read work of history. But it's also a fascinating business book examining the colliding influences of personality, morality, and cold strategic calculation. --Tim Appelo --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
I am astonished that Holocaust research has advanced so far and no one has yet detailed or even mentioned the involvement of IBM in organizing the Holocaust--from identification to... Read morePublished on July 15 2002 by Harry Churchill
The book is very well written and the author obviously did his homework. I think it is a bit wordy and describes events and conversations contributing little to the overall story.Published on May 24 2002 by Spook
The bottom line here is simple. After reading this book, I will never purchase or have any part of an IBM product.
This book is not the best I have ever read. Read more
Edwin Black's book has unveiled a whole new understanding of the Holocaust era. I was alternately driven to rage, tears and appreciation as I read his book. Read morePublished on May 6 2002 by Leona Hyde
This book is one of the most interesting factual books I have ever read. It is worth the read, but not for the assumptions made in it, to say that IBM can be held as a responsible... Read morePublished on April 9 2002
"It was an irony of the war that IBM equipment was used to encode and decode for both sides of the conflict" (p. 344). Read morePublished on Feb. 4 2002 by The BPR Reference Guide
IBM and the Holocaust is not the first Holocaust book I have read--but what an eye-opener. Why has this topic not been covered in any of the thousands of books or papers presented... Read morePublished on Jan. 18 2002 by Sally Ferster