Dimensions: 208 pages, 3.37 × 2.34 × 0.32 in
Published: February 14, 2012
Publisher: Farrar, Straus And Giroux
The following ISBNs are associated with this title:
ISBN - 10: 0374143420
ISBN - 13: 9780374143428
About the Book
Fifty years after Hannah Arendt examined the dynamics of conformity in her seminal account of the Eichmann trial, "Beautiful Souls" explores the flipside of the banality of evil, mapping out what impels ordinary people to defy the sway of authority and convention.
Read from the Book
1. DISOBEYING THE LAW I. Underhanded Practices One night in November 1938, a fourteen-year-old boy named Erich Billig slipped across the Austrian border into Switzerland. It was, he hoped, the final leg of a hastily arranged journey that had begun ten days earlier, on November 9–10, when Billig and Jews throughout Vienna hid in their apartments or ducked for cover while Nazi storm troopers led a bloody rampage through the streets. In the organized pogrom known as Kristallnacht, which turned Austria’s stately capital into a cauldron of terror and violence, hundreds of Jewish shops were vandalized, dozens of temples burned down, and scores of injuries and fatalities recorded. The shattered storefronts and smoldering synagogues left little doubt what the unification of Austria and Germany, which Adolf Hitler had announced before cheering throngs of jubilant supporters in Vienna’s Heldenplatz (“Heroes’ Square”) in March, would mean for Jews. Erich Billig already had a sense. A few months earlier his father had been deported to Dachau, a concentration camp near Munich; his older brother, Herbert, had fled the country after landing on the Gestapo’s wanted list, and was now in Zurich. After Kristallnacht, Billig’s mother, Hilde, put her youngest son on a train bound for Altach, a town near the Swiss border, where he holed up in an abandoned shed and pondered how to get to Zurich himself. There was one problem: Switzerland
From the Publisher
On the Swiss border with Austria in 1938, a police captain refuses to enforce a law barring Jewish refugees from entering his country. In the Balkans half a century later, a Serb from the war-blasted city of Vukovar defies his superiors in order to save the lives of Croats. At the height of the Second Intifada, a member of Israel''s most elite military unit informs his commander he doesn''t want to serve in the occupied territories.
Fifty years after Hannah Arendt examined the dynamics of conformity in her seminal account of the Eichmann trial, Beautiful Souls explores the flipside of the banality of evil, mapping out what impels ordinary people to defy the sway of authority and convention. Through the dramatic stories of unlikely resisters who feel the flicker of conscience when thrust into morally compromising situations, Eyal Press shows that the boldest acts of dissent are often carried out not by radicals seeking to overthrow the system but by true believers who cling with unusual fierceness to their convictions. Drawing on groundbreaking research by moral psychologists and neuroscientists, Beautiful Souls culminates with the story of a financial industry whistleblower who loses her job after refusing to sell a toxic product she rightly suspects is being misleadingly advertised. At a time of economic calamity and political unrest, this deeply reported work of narrative journalism examines the choices and dilemmas we all face when our principles collide with the loyalties we harbor and the duties we are expected to fulfill.
About the Author
Eyal Press is an author and journalist based in New York. His work has appeared in the New York Review of Books, The New York Times Magazine, The Nation, The Raritan Review and numerous other publications. A 2011 Schwartz fellow at the New America Foundation, he is the author of Absolute Convictions, and a past recipient of the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism.
Too often we think of courage only as something required to charge into gunfire or scale an icy peak. Eyal Press looks at courage of a different and far more important kind. His examples spread across decades and continents, and he is wise enough to know that it can take as much bravery to defy an unethical corporation as it does to resist a totalitarian regime. This is an important and inspiring book.