An Interview with 2014 Nonfiction Award Finalist Neal Bascomb

The Nazi HuntersNeal Bascomb is the author of The Nazi Hunters, a finalist for YALSA’s 2014 Award for Excellence in Nonfiction. The book is a rewrite of his 2009 book for adults, Chasing Eichmann: How a Band of Survivors and a Young Spy Agency Chased Down the World’s Most Notorious Nazi, and tells the story of the effort to capture Nazi Adolf Eichmann after he was discovered to be living in Argentina. The book is a work of narrative nonfiction, and also includes throughout archival photos and objects, like passports, travel documents, and more. 

Congratulations on your nomination! I understand The Nazi Hunters is an adaptation of your previous work, Hunting Eichmann. What prompted you to approach this subject again? How did you go about creating this new work from the old one (i.e. how much is new, how much is reshaped, etc)?

While researching the story of Eichmann’s hunt and capture, I came across a statement by David Ben Gurion, the leader of the Israeli State, on why he ordered the dangerous operation to seize the Nazi war criminal and bring him to Tel Aviv to face a trial. It would have been much easier—and much less risky on many levels—to simply have Eichmann killed quietly. But Ben-Gurion wanted Eichmann captured alive for two reasons: 1) To remind his country’s youth why the State of Israel needed to exist; 2) To remind the world what happened in the Holocaust.

At its heart, this secret operation was about education, about informing the world of deeds past. In that sense, the story was tailor-made to be written for a younger audience. Unfortunately, I was too dim to see it myself, but then I received a call from a wonderful editor at Scholastic, Cheryl Klein, who had read Hunting Eichmann and saw its potential for this audience.

To adapt the book for younger readers, I focused more on the narrative of events than the layers of history that surrounded it. I wanted to get to the center of who these individuals were who captured Eichmann and explain why they risked their lives to bring him to Israel. Everything else hit the cutting room floor. One could say that Nazi Hunters is truer to the events than the much longer adult book!

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2014 Morris/Nonfiction Reading Challenge Check-in #6

yalsa morris nonfiction sealsNot signed up for YALSA’s 2014 Morris/Nonfiction Reading Challenge? Read the official rules and sign up on the original post. If you’re finished, fill out the form at the bottom of this post to let us know!

I have to be honest: I’m not doing so hot on the challenge this year.  Last year I blazed through both lists and really enjoyed the diversity, the new authors, the experience of reading outside my comfort zone.  I have no doubt at all that the nominated titles this year have just as much to offer, but everything seems to be conspiring against me.  I still haven’t managed to round up copies up of all the books, and interview-centric reading has kicked into high gear again.  Plus, like many of you, I suspect, there’s that pile of books I received over the holidays, so new and shiny and enticing…

In the Shadow of BlackbirdsThat said, I did finish Elizabeth Ross’ Belle Epoque and The Nazi Hunters by Neal Bascomb, both of which were wonderful and an excellent reminder of why this challenge is so great.  And I’ve got a copy of In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters and a whole weekend ahead of me so I’m certainly not giving up!

What about you?  What does your weekend hold?

 

–Julie Bartel, who will be reading In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters, as soon as I finish these last 30 pages…

 

2014 Morris/Nonfiction Reading Challenge Check-in #5

yalsa morris nonfiction sealsNot signed up for YALSA’s 2014 Morris/Nonfiction Reading Challenge? Read the official rules and sign up on the original post. If you’re finished, fill out the form at the bottom of this post to let us know!

I haven’t made any progress on the Morris/Nonfiction Reading Challenge.  As I mentioned Friday I was reading other stuff. I am in the middle of two challenge books right now though, which is progress right? I’ve started both Go and Sex and Violence so I am feeling a little bit more accomplished than normal since I tend to suck at reading challenges.

So how are you doing? Do we have any new signups? Any one finish yet? What are your favorites so far?  Let me know in the comments and same me into reading more.

– Faythe Arredondo, currently reading Go: A Kidd’s Guide to Graphic Design by Chip Kidd