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Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland Paperback – Oct 29 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; unknown edition (Oct. 29 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142002402
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142002407
  • Product Dimensions: 19.7 x 12.8 x 1.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 204 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #105,137 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents


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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on Sept. 18 2002
Format: Hardcover
"Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne,
Poland" is a controversial book whose reputation suffers the more
independent research is done on it. Gross' number of 1600 victims has been reduced to 400 or less, as the mass graves were investigated by authorities with Rabbis standing by.
(In comparison 3,000,000 Polish-Jews were killed in the rest of Poland by Nazis. Notably also 2,000,000 (half by Soviets) non-Jewish Poles died at the same time. How many at the hands of the hundreds of (well documented) Jewish Commissars? Probably many times more than 400.)
By his own admission in recent interviews; Gross concludes that his exploration of the evidence was "incomplete", as the presence of German soldiers everywhere was brought out by witnesses some from as far away as Israel. What was the purpose of this book - one could speculate - self hatred?
It's a narrowly (amateurishly) researched book, long on drama short on verity. Many exist significantly more broadly based.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Cameron Willis on Aug. 7 2009
Format: Paperback
Many of the reviewers who have tackled this book have done so as Polish nationalists, or as opponents of Gross' often somewhat questionable methodology, or as both, using his methodology to push a Polish nationalist interpretation of the events Gross narrates. That the agenda with many of these negative reviews is to repudiate Gross' insistence on the role that everyday Poles played in the Jedwabne, and thus his insistence that some Poles at least publicly admit they, or their families, or their communities, played an active role in the Holocaust. This is undoubtedly a contentious position, but it is, I believe, a correct one, and one supported tentatively by the Institute of National Remembrance in Poland; his methodology might be somewhat questionable, but it is hardly easy to disprove as well, despite the insistence of his many detractors. The period when this book was written and researched was at the end of a decade of (justly) resurgent Polish nationalism, frequently (and understandably) conservative and Catholic, but also a time when prominent parties, individuals and groups insisted with vitriol that no Poles had played any part in the Holocaust, and that anyway, the Jews were all Bolshevik conspirators anyway (and thus, in some way, deserved their fate). For that reason alone it needs to be important, needs to be read, despite the many flaws.

Many reviews here have already pointed out the major flaws with his book: reliance on evidence that was sometimes extracted by torture, and his significant minimization of the role of the German Army, state and police. What rarely goes noted, in the rush to condemn this book for 'tarnishing' Poland's image, or for blaming at least some massacres of Jews on Poles, is how typical and pedestrian, and Polish nationalist, Gross' position is.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on Nov. 20 2002
Format: Paperback
While interesting reading, and somewhat overdone in terms of the gory detail, one is still lead to not fully take at face value all that is stated by Gross as "fact" in the book.
By his own admission in the chapter titled "New Approach To Sources", Gross offers us the new way of studying history by suggesting that we should accept "...what we read in a particular account as fact, until we find persuasive arguments to the contrary, we would avoid more mistakes than we are likely to commit by adopting the opposite approach, which calls for cautious skepticism toward any testimony until independent confirmation of it's content has been found".
If all "historians" were to follow that approach than our historical texts (which are based on empirical evidence) might be full of false information. I am not suggesting that the events described in the book did not happen at all (to the contrary there is independent confirmation of some of what is written), but I am suggesting that all historical subjects be treated with the same "cautious skepticism". The Holocaust of the WW II era should not be afforded any different treatment, just because it may be politically correct to do so.
Gross has cheated the process by which a historical thesis is made, investigated, proven, and documented, by simply taking a few uncorroborated testimonies at face value. As a respected historian and Professor at New York University, Gross should both know better, and should be ashamed of his behavior as a "historian" in the writing of this book.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on Sept. 4 2003
Format: Paperback
While interesting reading, and somewhat overdone in terms of the gory detail, one is still lead to not fully take at face value all that is stated by Gross as "fact" in the book.
By his own admission in the chapter titled "New Approach To Sources", Gross offers us the new way of studying history by suggesting that we should accept "...what we read in a particular account as fact, until we find persuasive arguments to the contrary, we would avoid more mistakes than we are likely to commit by adopting the opposite approach, which calls for cautious skepticism toward any testimony until independent confirmation of it's content has been found".
If all "historians" were to follow that approach than our historical texts (which are based on empirical evidence) might be full of false information. I am not suggesting that the events described in the book did not happen at all (to the contrary there is independent confirmation of some of what is written), but I am suggesting that all historical subjects be treated with the same "cautious skepticism". The Holocaust of the WW II era should not be afforded any different treatment, just because it may be politically correct to do so.
Gross has cheated the process by which a historical thesis is made, investigated, proven, and documented, by simply taking a few uncorroborated testimonies at face value. As a respected historian and Professor at New York University, Gross should both know better, and should be ashamed of his behavior as a "historian" in the writing of this book.
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