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Vanderbilt University Press
The following review appeared in the November 2016 issue of CHOICE. The review is for your internal use only. Please review our Permission and Reprints Guidelines or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Social & Behavioral Sciences
History, Geography & Area Studies - Western Europe
Odd Nansen was a prominent Norwegian architect, graphic artist, protector of refugees, and son of Norway’s great explorer-statesman Fridtjof Nansen. Openly critical of arch-traitor Vidkun Quisling, he became a “court hostage” imprisoned along with 40,000 other Norwegians in Nazi concentration camps during 1942–45. A compulsive diarist, he secretly chronicled in fine detail the wretched daily existence of camp participants—overlords and inmates—in Norway and Germany. Subjected at first to hateful but relatively mild conditions at Grini prison camp near Oslo, he had to work as an architect for camp expansion. Then followed months of hard construction labor in northern Norway and a return to Grini, where conditions worsened as German brutality and corruption grew while hopes for Nazi victory faded. Much worse came in 1943–45, when Nansen was transferred to Sachsenhausen concentration camp in Germany. There, he shared the impact of Nazi oppression and described in well-chosen words and accurate drawings the daily lives of persons who inflicted and those who endured insane levels of cruelty and deprivation. Nansen survived imprisonment and published his diary, which appeared in English translation in 1949. The current edition relates Nansen’s contemporary analysis to 21st-century scholarship.--G. H. Davis, Georgia State University