Letters from Nuremberg
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
Review Date: 12 Feb 2013
Full Title: Letters from Nuremberg: My Father's Narrative of a Quest for Justice
Between 1945 and 1946, attorney Thomas Dodd served as a prosecutor at the war crimes trial in Nuremberg (Nürnberg), Germany, leaving a wife and several young children at home for an extended amount of time. Decades later, his son, Christopher Dodd, who had followed his father's footsteps into public service (both would enter the United States Senate), discovered a series of letters that the elder Dodd had written and published some of them under the title Letters from Nuremberg. Without the modern conveniences that we had taken for granted in our day, he wrote regularly. What came through at the foremost was the emotions he felt after being separated from his family, disconnected from the daily happenings. Although his inquiries of his wife's visits to the doctor, of his orders at the tailor, and his reminders for her to send checks to Germany for him to sign were rather mundane at the surface, these writings, not originally intended for publication, revealed the mindset of someone taken away from his home in the service of his country, a story so common during the WW2 period.
Of course, as a history enthusiast, what drew me to his book was the historical aspect of this book. In that arena, this book was lacking, as the personal letters much more so went along the lines of being a diary rather than an objective historical analysis. Nevertheless, Dodd's interactions with major figures such as Wilhelm Keitel and Franz von Papen provided insight to them not simply as leaders of a warring power but, to a certain degree, human beings. Dodd's mention of Keitel's loving concern for his wife was a good example in that respect.
My biggest complaint about Letters from Nuremberg centered around the early parts of this book, where the younger Dodd inserted his own political views of the present world. This left a poor impression on me, as I got the feeling that he attempted to turn his father's service into a political campaigning tool for his own benefit. This left a very poor opening impression on me, and to be honest, I found myself fast-forward a few seconds at a time, searching for the parts about Thomas Dodd's experience and service, and not Christopher Dodd's petty politicking.
As hinted in the last sentence, I had reviewed this title in its audio book format. Already noted in previous reviews, Michael Prichard had become one of my favorite readers, and he did a great job with this letter as well. Not being an expert on voice acting, I would not be able to tell you how, but throughout the reading of his letters, I really felt that it was the elder Dodd who was reading the letters to me in person.
For those in search of the likes of diaries and memoirs from the WW2 period, Letters from Nuremberg might interest you, especially for its candidness in revealing the original author's personal mindset and fairly unretouched emotions. For those in search of something in the discipline of history, little would be missed should this book be bypassed.
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Thomas Dodd, late 1945