Mengele: Unmasking the "Angel of Death" (Paperback)
A "gripping…sober and meticulous" (David Margolick, Wall Street Journal) biography of the infamous Nazi doctor, from a former Justice Department official tasked with uncovering his fate.
Perhaps the most notorious war criminal of all time, Josef Mengele was the embodiment of bloodless efficiency and passionate devotion to a grotesque worldview. Aided by the role he has assumed in works of popular culture, Mengele has come to symbolize the Holocaust itself as well as the failure of justice that allowed countless Nazi murderers and their accomplices to escape justice. Whether as the demonic doctor who directed mass killings or the elusive fugitive who escaped capture, Mengele has loomed so large that even with conclusive proof, many refused to believe that he had died.
As chief of investigative research at the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations in the 1980s, David G. Marwell worked on the Mengele case, interviewing his victims, visiting the scenes of his crimes, and ultimately holding his bones in his hands. Drawing on his own experience as well as new scholarship and sources, Marwell examines in scrupulous detail Mengele’s life and career. He chronicles Mengele’s university studies, which led to two PhDs and a promising career as a scientist; his wartime service both in frontline combat and at Auschwitz, where his “selections” sent innumerable innocents to their deaths and his “scientific” pursuits—including his studies of twins and eye color—traumatized or killed countless more; and his postwar flight from Europe and refuge in South America.
Mengele describes the international search for the Nazi doctor in 1985 that ended in a cemetery in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and the dogged forensic investigation that produced overwhelming evidence that Mengele had died—but failed to convince those who, arguably, most wanted him dead. This is the riveting story of science without limits, escape without freedom, and resolution without justice.
— Adam Gopnik - The New Yorker
[David] Marwell comprehensively recounts this case of justice denied, and how—helped by his wealthy family, loyal friends and Nazi sympathizers—Mengele succeeded in evading his would-be captors.
— Steven Aschheim - The New York Times Book Review
Definitive…Marwell’s authority as a scholar of this era is commanding.
— Wendy Lower and Jonathan Petropoulos - Times Literary Supplement
Has all the pleasures of a suspenseful crime novel, and all the inside detail of a police procedural…This absorbing, exhaustively researched work is surely destined to become the standard reference on its subject.
— Bob Goldfarb - Jewish Book Council
Compelling…[A]t once a compact biography of the notorious war criminal, a detailed account of Mengele’s flight to South America, and an absorbing narrative of the quest to bring him to justice.
— Patricia Heberer Rice - Science
Authoritative…[A]n adventure in pathology and criminology.
— Robert Siegel - Moment
Chilling and masterful.
— Jonathan Mark - New York Jewish Week
Gripping and disturbing.
— Molly Odintz - LitHub CrimeReads
The most thorough-going account of Mengele’s life available to date.
— Christopher Priest - The Spectator