History Book Club

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Meets the last Monday of each month. New members are always welcome!

Cover, Ordinary Men by Christopher R. BrowningMonday, April 26th at 7:00 pm

Ordinary Men by Christopher R. Browning


“A remarkable—and singularly chilling—glimpse of human behavior. . .This meticulously researched book...represents a major contribution to the literature of the Holocaust."—Newsweek

Christopher R. Browning’s shocking account of how a unit of average middle-aged Germans became the cold-blooded murderers of tens of thousands of Jews—now with a new afterword and additional photographs.

Ordinary Men is the true story of Reserve Police Battalion 101 of the German Order Police, which was responsible for mass shootings as well as round-ups of Jewish people for deportation to Nazi death camps in Poland in 1942. Browning argues that most of the men of  RPB 101 were not fanatical Nazis but, rather, ordinary middle-aged, working-class men who committed these atrocities out of a mixture of motives, including the group dynamics of conformity, deference to authority, role adaptation, and the altering of moral norms to justify their actions. Very quickly three groups emerged within the battalion: a core of eager killers, a plurality who carried out their duties reliably but without initiative, and a small minority who evaded participation in the acts of killing without diminishing the murderous efficiency of the battalion whatsoever.

While this book discusses a specific Reserve Unit during WWII, the general argument Browning makes is that most people succumb to the pressures of a group setting and commit actions they would never do of their own volition. 

Ordinary Men is a powerful, chilling, and important work with themes and arguments that continue to resonate today.


2021 Book List

January- Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky    

February- Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe    

March- Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

April- Ordinary Men by Christopher R. Browning    

May- Ida: A Sword Among Lions by Paula J. Giddings    

June- My Bondage and My Freedom by Frederick Douglass    

July- 1776 by David McCullough    

August- The Woman Who Smashed Codes    by Jason Fagone    

September- Empire of the Summer Moon by S C Gwynne    

October- Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond    

November- TBD                 

December- TBD            

Book Links:

Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062303028
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Harper Perennial - February 28th, 2017