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Journalist. Newspaper reporter in Chicago, IL, c. 1970s, for area newspapers, including Chicago Tribune, Chicago Today, Chicago Daily News, and Chicago Sun-Times; former editor of Chicago Monthly magazine. Lecturer; has also appeared on television and on radio programs.
Chicago Award, 1978, for best feature article in Chicago Reader; Eagle Award, 1978, for excellence in editing; Carl Sandburg Award, 1984, for The Transfer Agreement: The Dramatic Story of the Pact between the Third Reich and Jewish Palestine; Pulitzer Prize nominations, 1984, for The Transfer Agreement, 1986, 1987, 1990, for investigation of Senator David Durenberger, 2002, for IBM and the Holocaust: The Strategic Alliance between Nazi Germany and America's Most Powerful Corporation, and twice in 2003, for War against the Weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to Create a Master Race and for article "Funding Hate"; SDX Service Award nominations, 1987 and 1994; Smolar Award, 1987, for excellence in public affairs journalism; Rockower Award, American Jewish Press Association, 1988, for excellence in Jewish commentary, 2003, for best investigative article of the year, and nomination, 2003, for article "Funding Hate"; two Folio Awards, 1995, for undercover reporting and for publishing excellence; Roger Mann Award honorable mention, AOFAS, 1996, for best article on health care; American Society of Journalist and Authors awards, 2003, for best investigative journalism article and for IBM and the Holocaust; Best Book award, World Affairs Council—Great Lakes, and Best Book nomination, American Society of Journalists and Authors, both 2003, both for War against the Weak; IRE Award nomination.
Format C: (novel), Brookline Books (Cambridge, MA), 1999.
IBM and the Holocaust: The Strategic Alliance between Nazi Germany and America's Most Powerful Corporation, Crown (New York, NY), 2001.
War against the Weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to Create a Master Race, Four Walls Eight Windows (New York, NY), 2003.
Banking on Baghdad: Inside Iraq's 7,000-Year History of War, Profit, and Conflict, Wiley & Sons (Hoboken, NJ), 2004.
(Translator and author of forword) Götz Aly and Karl Heinz Roth, The Nazi Census: Identification and Control in the Third Reich, Temple University Press (Philadelphia, PA), 2004.
Contributor to numerous periodicals, including Los Angeles Times, Jerusalem Post, Playboy, Der Spiegel, New York Times, Village Voice, Washington Post, B'nai B'rith Monthly, and Reform Judaism. Author of weekly column "The Cutting Edge," beginning 1984.
Edwin Black, the son of Jewish immigrants who fled Nazi oppression, is an award-winning journalist who has written a number of revealing nonfiction books examining connections between Nazi Germany and some unlikely allies ranging from Jewish businessmen in Palestine to American corporations. It is for his nonfiction that Black has garnered the most attention and honors, including a Carl Sandburg Award and several nominations for the Pulitzer Prize.
With his first book, The Transfer Agreement: The Dramatic Story of the Pact between the Third Reich and Jewish Palestine, Black relates the true story of an agreement made in 1933 between Zionists in Palestine and officials of German Chancellor Adolf Hitler's government. The pact allowed for the release of 50,000 German Jews from Germany so that they could escape to Palestine, as well as transfer some of their assets to the Middle East; in exchange, Jewish businesses agreed to purchase exports from Germany that allowed the German economy to survive at the same time many other nations were boycotting Hitler's regime. The agreement also helped to establish Jewish settlements in Palestine and make them economically viable. Los Angeles Times Book Review contributor Gladwin Hill praised the book, especially for its research. The author, commented Hill, "has meticulously documented this obscure but important slice of world history … [and] the book outlines brilliantly the historic roots of German anti-Semitism, the German economic plight that aggravated it, and the resulting contention among world Jewry that still reverberates."
Another link between Hitler and other parties that should have been allied against the German dictator is revealed in Black's IBM and the Holocaust: The Strategic Alliance between Nazi Germany and America's Most Powerful Corporation. According to Black's research, the American corporation International Business Machines (IBM) provided Hitler's regime with a punch-card system that helped the Nazis run everything from transportation systems to death camps. The system was also relied on to keep track of which people belonged to which ethnic or religious groups, thus making it easier to target them for arrest. While IBM's founder, Thomas J. Watson, Sr., admired the Nazis, according to Black, he also allowed the company to play both sides of the game. For instance, the company helped the U.S. military build factories and training facilities, and it created a system that helped England break an important Axis code. IBM and the Holocaust was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, and according to London Sunday Times writer Tom Rhodes, Holocaust scholar Simon Wiesenthal praised the author for putting "together an impressive array of facts which result in a shocking conclusion never realised before."
Another connection between the United States and Nazi Germany is examined in Black's 2003 book, War against the Weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to Create a Master Race. Although it is commonly known that one of the motivations behind the Holocaust was Hitler's desire to breed a master race based on the burgeoning science of eugenics, few know that Hitler was inspired by the work of American scientists and that Hitler praised Americans in his book, Mein Kampf, for their anti-immigration and sterilization laws. Back in the early part of the twentieth century, the eugenics movement gained the favor of many scientists and government officials in the United States; it was an effort to eliminate those people perceived to have poor genetic qualities and was even supported by a 1927 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the case of Buck v. Bell, in which a woman who had become pregnant out of wedlock was institutionalized because she was deemed "feebleminded." Writing "with the zeal of an avenger," commented a Washington Post Book World contributor, and through extensive research into government documents, Black discusses other facts about the eugenics movement, spearheaded by American scientist Charles Benedict Davenport, including how tens of thousands of people were forcibly sterilized in the United States between 1907 and 1927. The Nazis, says Black, drew on these practices as inspiration for their own horrific scientific experiments and murder of not only Jews and other minorities, but also the physically and mentally handicapped. Although eugenics fell into disfavor in the United States after the Holocaust, Black asserts that in recent years it has reared its ugly head again in the field of bioengineering, in which it is now possible for parents to select the sex and other traits of their children, and in the debate over euthanasia. "Black's warning is well worth heeding," according to National Review critic Wesley J. Smith. "Over the last 30 years, academics and bioethicists have espoused beliefs and attitudes that are eerily reminiscent of those of Charles Davenport and his ilk." Kevin P. Quinn, writing in America, concluded that the author "has given us an astonishingly gripping narrative of the evils of eugenics."
In the midst of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, Black wrote Banking on Baghdad: Inside Iraq's 7,000-Year History of War, Profit, and Conflict, in which the author draws parallels between events in Iraq and its long history of being a focal point where nations have needed its resources. The book explains how foreign interests, including those of the United States, have resulted in continuing misery and conflict in this ancient land.
In addition to his nonfiction, Black has written the novel Format C:, which is similar to his other books in that it also involves a conspiracy. In this case, a computer company owner who is the wealthiest man on Earth takes advantage of people's fears about the Y2K computer glitch to try to gain world domination. The result is a battle between good and evil of almost biblical proportions in a tale that Library Journal contributor Debra Mitts called "an entertaining and provocative examination of our dependency on computers." Harriet Klausner, in a Bookbrowser.com review, noted that "Edwin Black has written one of the best millennium doomsday novels of the decade."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
America, March 29, 2004, Kevin P. Quinn, "The 'Perfect' Life," p. 26.
Booklist, March 1, 1999, Gilbert Taylor, review of Format C:, p. 1103; August, 2001, Whitney Scott, review of IBM and the Holocaust: The Strategic Alliance between Nazi Germany and America's Most Powerful Corporation, p. 2143.
Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 1999, review of Format C:, p. 666.
Library Journal, May 1, 1999, Debra Mitts, review of Format C:, p. 108; July, 2003, Gregg Sapp, review of War against the Weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to Create a Master Race, p. 118.
Los Angeles Times Book Review, May 13, 1984, Gladwin Hill, "An Escape Clause; a Deal with Hitler for Life and Debt," p. 2; September 7, 2003, Tony Platt, "Breeding Only the Best; American Eugenics: Race, Queer Anatomy, and the Science of Nationalism," p. 12.
Nation, May 21, 2001, John Friedman, "Hitler's Willing Executives," p. 40.
National Review, September 29, 2003, Wesley J. Smith, "Pandora Revisited."
Newsweek, February 19, 2001, Michael Hirsh, "Dark Questions for IBM: A New Book Says Its Technology Helped Hitler's Reich," p. 38.
New York Times Book Review, June 10, 1984, A. J. Sherman, "Coping with a Cruel Dilemma," p. 26; October 5, 2003, Daniel J. Kevles, "Here Comes the Master Race," p. 8.
Publishers Weekly, March 29, 1999, review of Format C:, p. 88; May 17, 1999, Judith Rosen, "Brookline's Big Gamble," p. 28; August 25, 2003, review of War against the Weak, p. 52.
Sunday Times (London, England), February 11, 2001, Tom Rhodes, "IBM Link to Final Solution Revealed," p. 21.
Washington Post Book World, October 19, 2003, "Five Studies on the Widely Varied Uses—and Abuses—of Science," p. 10.
Banking on Baghdad Web site,http://www.bankingonbaghdad.com/ (October 4, 2004).
Bookbrowser.com,http://www.bookbrowser.com/ (October 4, 2004), Harriet Klausner, review of Format C:.
Format C: Web site,http://www.formatnovel.com/ (September 3, 2004).
IBM and the Holocaust Web site,http://www.ibmandtheholocaust.com/ (September 3, 2004).
Transfer Agreement Web site,http://www.transferagreement.com/ (September 3, 2004).
War against the Weak Web site,http://www.waragainsttheweak.com/ (September 3, 2004).