Chesnoff, Richard Z. 1937- (Richard Zeltner Chesnoff)

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Chesnoff, Richard Z. 1937- (Richard Zeltner Chesnoff)


Born June 4, 1937, in New York, NY; son of Lewis (a musician) and Martha Chesnoff; married Yora Yedlin (a ceramicist), June 14, 1959 (divorced, March, 1968); married Susan M. Warburg, September 10, 1972; children: (first marriage) Adam Louis, (stepchildren from second marriage) Ian Edward Warburg, Paul Jason Warburg. Education: Studied at New York University, 1955-57, and Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1957-60. Religion: Jewish.


Home—Saint-Siffret, France. Office—New York Daily News, 450 W. 33 St., New York, NY 10001. E-mail—[email protected].


Journalist and writer. Correspondent in Israel for New York Herald Tribune, 1964-66, and for Newsweek and National Broadcasting Co. (NBC) News, 1965-66; Newsweek, New York, NY, associate editor for foreign news, 1966-68, correspondent, specializing in Middle East affairs, and deputy bureau chief, Paris, France, 1968-72, Newsweek International, general editor, 1973-74, assistant managing editor, 1974-75, executive editor, 1975-78; Richesu, Inc., president, beginning 1979; U.S. News and World Report, senior correspondent; New York Daily News, op-ed columnist, 1994—.


Overseas Press Club Award; National Press Club Award.


(With Edward Klein and Robert Littell) If Israel Lost the War, Coward (New York, NY), 1969.

AWOL (screenplay), produced by BFB Productions, 1972.

Philippines, Abrams (New York, NY), 1978, concise edition, 1980.

Pack of Thieves: How Hitler and Europe Plundered the Jews and Committed the Greatest Theft in History, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1999.

The Arrogance of the French: Why They Can't Stand Us, and Why the Feeling Is Mutual, Sentinel (New York, NY), 2005.

Also contributor of articles to periodicals, including Esquire, GQ, New York Times Magazine, New Republic, and American Enterprise.


"Terrible things are happening outside. At any time of night and day, poor helpless people are being dragged out of their homes. They're allowed to take only a knapsack and a little cash, and even then, they're robbed of these possessions on the way." Those words, excerpted from Anne Frank's famous wartime diary, are a touchpoint in journalist Richard Z. Ches- noff's acclaimed book, Pack of Thieves: How Hitler and Europe Plundered the Jews and Committed the Greatest Theft in History.

In this 1999 publication, Chesnoff, who has worked as a senior correspondent for U.S. News and World Report, contends that it was not only the Nazis who stole money and possessions from their Jewish prisoners during and after World War II. In fact, the powers-that-be in many nations—including Swiss bankers, French museums, Italian insurance companies, and Sweden's influential Wallenberg family—took advantage of political turmoil to "plunder," as the author puts it, Europe's Jews in what Chesnoff calls history's largest robbery.

Pack of Thieves begins with an examination of Germany, providing "a summary of how Berlin developed models for spoliation, most of which is already known," as Milton Goldin stated on the H-Net Reviews Web site. Chesnoff, Goldin continued, "is more original in discussions of seven countries allied with or occupied by Germany, five neutral countries and the Vatican." The author "argues that whether among communist atheists in Poland or the faithful in Rome during the postwar years, ideology might be dead, but greed was very much alive … and receivers of stolen property or property left for safekeeping held tight to what they had."

Using interviews, documentation, and evidence, Chesnoff examines the lingering effects of "homes taken … of life insurance unpaid, of recompense for slave labor ignored," and property stolen across Europe, according to Anne Roiphe's New York Observer review. While the author asserted that Pack of Thieves is not an inventory of what was stolen, he is careful to keep track of the extent of the theft through documentation.

Not every critic found Pack of Thieves engrossing. A Kirkus Reviews contributor saw the work as "unfocused and underdocumented," maintaining that Chesnoff's anecdotal approach adds little new information on the goings-on in Austria, the Netherlands, Norway, France, Poland, and Hungary. However, many critics took a different view. Roiphe contended that the book "makes the blood boil" in its unrelenting picture of the lingering social crimes that accompanied the slaughter of six million.

In his argument for restitution, a reviewer for Publishers Weekly explained that Chesnoff "criticizes as perverse those who argue that [these demands reinforce] the stereotype of the money-grubbing Jew." As quoted by Sandee Brawarsky in New York Jewish Week, Chesnoff asks: "What do these people prefer, that the money remain with those who stole it?"

In his next book, The Arrogance of the French: Why They Can't Stand Us, and Why the Feeling Is Mutual, Chesnoff writes of the disintegrating relationship between France and the United States and how the populace of each country perceives each other. As he examines faults within the French government, the author cites examples of what he perceives as their misguided policies toward Israel and about their collaboration with Saddam Hussein on oil deals prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq and overthrow of Hussein in 2003. "It's a love-hate relationship like any other," Chernoff said of the two countries' differences in an interview with Caroline Hsu in U.S. News & World Report. "It's tied up with concepts of jealously, envy, anxiety, and all kinds of sexual elements." A Publishers Weekly contributor commented on the author's "drawing on a lifetime's anecdotes of etranger insult with a variety of untempered history lessons thrown in." Jim Doyle, writing in the Library Journal, noted Chernoff's "virulent and itemized condemnation."



Chesnoff, Richard Z., Pack of Thieves: How Hitler and Europe Plundered the Jews and Committed the Greatest Theft in History, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1999.


International Wire, May 5, 2005, "Interview with Richard Chesnoff."

Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 1999, review of Pack of Thieves, p. 1538.

Library Journal, April 1, 2005, Jim Doyle, review of The Arrogance of the French: Why They Can't Stand Us, and Why the Feeling Is Mutual, p. 107.

New York Jewish Weekly, December 10, 1999, Sandee Brawarsky, review of Pack of Thieves.

New York Observer, January 10, 2000, Anne Roiphe, review of Pack of Thieves.

Publishers Weekly, October 25, 1999, review of Pack of Thieves, p. 59; February 21, 2005, review of The Arrogance of the French, p. 168.

U.S. News and World Report, November 15, 1999, review of Pack of Thieves; April 25, 2005, Caroline Hsu, "Frying the French," interview with author, p. 20.

ONLINE, (May 6, 2005), Bill O'Reilly, interview with author, (partial transcript from the O'Reilly Factor).

H-Net Reviews,, (March 14, 2000), Milton Goldin, review of Pack of Thieves.

New York Daily News Web site, (December 26, 2006), brief profile of author.