Lebor, Adam 1961-
Lebor, Adam 1961-
Born 1961, in London, England. Education: Leeds University, B.A., 1983.
Home—Budapest, Hungary. E-mail—[email protected]
Journalist and author. Foreign correspondent in central and eastern Europe, reporting for the Independent and the London Times, beginning 1991; Central European correspondent for London Times.
City of Oranges: An Intimate History of Arabs and Jews in Jaffa was named an Editor's Choice by the New York Times, and book of the week by the London Guardian.
Hitler's Secret Bankers: The Myth of Swiss Neutrality during the Holocaust, Carol Publishing Group (Secaucus, NJ), 1997, published as Hitler's Secret Bankers: How Switzerland Profited from Nazi Genocide, Simon and Schuster (London, England), 1997.
A Heart Turned East: Among the Muslims of Europe and America, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1998.
(With Roger Boyes) Surviving Hitler: Choice, Corruption, and Compromise in the Third Reich, Simon & Schuster (London, England), 2000, published as Seduced by Hitler: The Choices of a Nation and the Ethics of Survival, Sourcebooks (Naperville, IL), 2001.
City of Oranges: Arabs and Jews in Jaffa, Bloomsbury (London, England), 2006, published as City of Oranges: An Intimate History of Arabs and Jews in Jaffa, W.W. Norton (New York, NY), 2007.
Contributor to Literary Review, Condé Nast Traveller, New York Times, Times (of London), Sunday Times, Economist, Budapest Sun.
British journalist Adam LeBor has worked for years covering political and cultural happenings in Europe and elsewhere. After earning his B.A., he wrote for a number of national British newspapers; in 1991, he became a foreign correspondent, traveling throughout central and eastern Europe. From 1991 to 1993, he served as a war correspondent in Croatia and Bosnia, and reported extensively for the Independent and the London Times. These experiences led him to translate his immense amount of research and experience into a number of books covering similar topics. His books have been published in ten languages.
LeBor's first book, Hitler's Secret Bankers: The Myth of Swiss Neutrality during the Holocaust, was published in 1997 and also appeared as Hitler's Secret Bankers: How Switzerland Profited from Nazi Genocide. In the volume LeBor explains how Swiss bankers benefited from the Holocaust by taking large deposits from fearful Jews in the 1930s and withholding these deposits from surviving family members after World War II. In addition, LeBor claims, the banks allowed Nazi officials to open accounts filled with stolen goods before and during the war, and kept these accounts open and accessible after the war was over.
Hitler's Secret Bankers was generally well received by critics. Many focused on a certain aspect of LeBor's analysis as a benefit to the literature on this subject. Randall L. Schroeder, for example, reviewing the book for Library Journal, commented that LeBor's study "makes for fascinating reading and could point to the next Holocaust banking scandal." Other reviewers found the book to have the potential for broader appeal. "LeBor's highly charged work will appeal to readers interested in WWII, and will be embraced by Holocaust survivors and their families who are trying to seek restitution from Switzerland's banks," commented a reviewer for Publishers Weekly.
LeBor's next work, A Heart Turned East: Among the Muslims of Europe and America, was published in 1998. Drawing on his years as a journalist, he combines interviews and research to tell the account of the diverse Muslim communities present throughout Western Europe and in the United States. He outlines how the source of Muslim resentment for Western government is economic exclusion, and how this hostility can potentially threaten each country's security and stability. His interviews include ones with Muslims from France, England, Germany, Turkey, Bosnia, and the United States, and LeBor also provides a brief guide to the foundations of Islam.
Reviews of A Heart Turned East found some weaknesses in LeBor's book but generally lauded his effort. Robert J. Pauly, Jr., writing for the International Journal of Politics and Ethics, commented that LeBor's theme is "likely to prove palatable for members of the general population struggling to gain a better understanding of Islam and its adherents in the aftermath of the events of September 11," when the United States was attacked by terrorists. Some wrote of LeBor's abilities to pull from a variety of sources and viewpoints. "An eclectic surveyor with decided opinions, LeBor ably canvasses the spectrum of Muslim views on life in nominally Christian countries," wrote Booklist contributor Gilbert Taylor.
In 2000, LeBor collaborated with fellow journalist Roger Boyes to publish Seduced by Hitler: The Choices of a Nation and the Ethics of Survival. With this book the authors explore the question of why so few Germans attempted to resist the Nazi state during the reign of German dictator Adolf Hitler. They describe the daily lives of these people and the choices they were forced to make to survive.
Seduced by Hitler garnered a mixture of praise and criticism by reviewers. "Although this book is informative and thought-provoking, it is also curiously ill focused and disorganized," wrote Eric Robbins in Booklist. Other reviewers were drawn to the authors' use of detailed personal accounts. "The personal stories presented here make for compelling—and disturbing—reading," commented Library Journal contributor Thomas A. Karel.
Drawing from his experience covering the wars in Bosnia and Croatia, LeBor wrote Milosevic: A Biography in 2002. Through lengthy interviews, including ones with Milosevic's wife, Mira Markovic, LeBor tells the story of Slobodan Milosevic, the former leader of Yugoslavia. He covers Milosevic's childhood and early years, the politician's rise to power, the turbulent years of his dictatorship, and his overthrow. The book also contains illustrations, maps, and an extensive bibliography.
Laura Secor, writing for the Nation, contended that "what LeBor has written is not a character study but a history of the disintegration of Yugoslavia through the lens of Serbian politics." In general, reviewers found Milosevic to be an important addition to literature on the subject. "LeBor's biography is straightforward, clearly written, and quite objective, and it should be engaging even to a wide-ranging readership," wrote Dennis Reinhartz in History: Review of New Books.
LeBor's next effort, City of Oranges: Arabs and Jews in Jaffa, takes a look at the long and varied history of the city of Jaffa, once a golden jewel of the Mediterranean and still a city where despite decades of neglect, Jews, Muslims, and Christians live side by side. The city's history can be traced back thousands of years, and figures heavily in ancient biblical tales as well as the history of religion, playing host to individuals ranging from Alexander the Great to King Richard the Lionheart to Napoleon. LeBor traces the city's past through multiple generations of a number of families, both Jewish and Arab, to give readers a feel for the shifts in prosperity and culture. Gershom Gorenberg, in a contribution for the New York Times Book Review Online Web site, called LeBor's work "an engaging, well-constructed book, even if its characters are more colorful than complex." He went on to conclude that "it's a picture of a comfortable, gentrified Middle East. But it underestimates how deeply both Jews and Palestinians experience nationality as intrinsic to identity." However, a reviewer for Publishers Weekly wrote that "there's almost no way to approach the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with objectivity … but English journalist Le- Bor … has achieved the near-impossible." A contributor for Kirkus Reviews dubbed the book "a provocative, ultimately hopeful view of a tormented place."
LeBor told CA: "I first decided to become a writer when I was a teenager and read a copy of The Road to Wigan Pier, by George Orwell. This study of working class poverty in Northern England in the 1930s is not one of Orwell's best known-works, compared to, for example, 1984 or Animal Farm. But its vivid, immediate reporting is as fresh today as when Orwell first wrote the book. I still remember my sense of youthful outrage that people had to live in these conditions. All of my books have been shaped by a concern for social justice and engagement with contemporary issues, and several have been directly inspired by my journalism, such as A Heart Turned East and Milosevic. I write to make a record of these events, as best I can, and most of all, because I hope my books can make a difference, if nothing else, in the way the readers have their preconceptions altered. That was certainly my aim with City of Oranges, and I strongly hope that both Jews and Arabs will read this book and see the ‘other’ as human beings, with dreams, hopes and fears of their own."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, February 1, 1998, Gilbert Taylor, review of A Heart Turned East: Among the Muslims of Europe and America, p. 880; March 15, 2001, Eric Robbins, review of Seduced by Hitler: The Choices of a Nation and the Ethics of Survival, p. 1351; May 1, 2004, Gilbert Taylor, review of Milosevic: A Biography, p. 1539.
Economist, July 19, 1997, review of A Heart Turned East, p. S8.
Guardian (Manchester, England), October 26, 2002, Ian Traynor, "Big Lies, Little Lies: Ian Traynor on the Rise and Fall of Slobodan Milosevic," p. 15.
History: Review of New Books, fall, 2004, Dennis Reinhartz, review of Milosevic, p. 24.
International Journal of Politics and Ethics, spring, 2002, Robert J. Pauly, Jr., review of A Heart Turned East, p. 83.
Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2007, review of City of Oranges: Arabs and Jews in Jaffa.
Library Journal, July, 1997, Randall L. Schroeder, review of Hitler's Secret Bankers: How Switzerland Profited from Nazi Genocide, p. 103; February 1, 1998, Jill Jaracz, review of A Heart Turned East, p. 89; May 1, 2001, Thomas A. Karel, review of Seduced by Hitler, p. 104; May 1, 2004, Marcia L. Sprules, review of Milosevic, p. 120.
Nation, April 19, 2004, Laura Secor, review of Milosevic, p. 30.
New Statesman, November 25, 2002, Neil Clark, review of Milosevic, p. 52.
Publishers Weekly, May 19, 1997, review of Hitler's Secret Bankers: The Myth of Swiss Neutrality during the Holocaust, p. 59; March 26, 2001, review of Seduced by Hitler, p. 73; March 22, 2004, review of Milosevic, p. 79; March 12, 2007, review of City of Oranges, p. 46.
Quadrant, April, 1998, Paul Monk, "The Profits of Genocide," p. 83.
Adam Lebor Home Page,http://adamlebor.com (February 7, 2008).
Bloomsbury Web site,http://www.bloomsbury.com/ (November 10, 2004).
New York Times Book Review Online,http://www.nytimes.com/ (May 27, 2007), Gershom Gorenberg, "Crossing Cultures."