And if the stories have a familiar—maybe heroic?—ring, they also beg for the unromantic telling that Nagorski, who met and interviewed every living protagonist, brings them.
The iconic Nazi hunter is Simon Wiesenthal, an Austrian Holocaust survivor who pursued war criminals relentlessly. Jan Sehn was a Polish judge who prosecuted Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Höss. Benjamin Ferencz and William Denson were the young American prosecutors at the immediate postwar trials in Nuremberg and Dachau.
My favorite—perhaps precisely because he stand out in this crowd—is the scholarly lawyer Fritz Bauer, thanklessly facing his homeland’s ugly record of mass murder as a state attorney general in West Germany.
Rafi Eitan, who led the Israeli Mossad team that nabbed Adolf Eichmann in Argentina, cuts a more romantic figure, but Nagorski captures his ordinariness. Beate and Serge Klarsfeld are still at work in France, on the Nazi trail, as is Eli Rosenbaum, who rose to head the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations that belatedly sought to expel war criminals who were living quietly in the United States.