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December 3, 2010

Book Names That Make You Nervous

Berlin at WarI'm currently reading Roger Moorhouse's new book, Berlin at War, which examines the life of the German capital during World War II. We've seen a lot of history books about Hitler, the generals, the armies, the back and forth battles, but Moorhouse's aim is to see what the day to day life of the civilians was like.

I'm not very far into it right now, so I can't comment on the book itself. However, reading about German society during the Nazi era, it reminded me of a book I was reading back in 2007, Jeffrey Herf's The Jewish Enemy: Nazi Propaganda During World War II and the Holocaust.

And thinking of that book got me remembering an old blog post I did on my Livejournal blog, about books with uncomfortable titles and/or covers.

First, I have to say that the book is simply phenomenal. My review of it is on Curled Up With a Good Book, and that review has actually been linked to on the book's Harvard University Press page, something I'm immensely proud of.

I reprint it for you below (and after the break), unedited. I'd be interested in your thoughts on the whole thing!

I'm currently reading a book called The Jewish Enemy: Nazi Propaganda During World War II and the Holocaust by Jeffrey Herf. I haven't gotten very far (about 30 pages so far), but it's definitely a worthy read at this point. It's an examination of the techniques that the Nazis used to demonise the Jews to the point where the Final Solution wasn't looked down upon by the general populace.

Unfortunately, the name of the book bothers me a bit. Here's the cover:

The Jewish Enemy: Nazi Propaganda during World War II and the Holocaust

Now, the spine of the book only has "The Jewish Enemy" on it. If I'm reading the book at work and a co-worker comes up to me and notices, they'll probably see the whole title and realize that this is a scholarly book on the subject.

But what if you're just riding the bus? What if the person next to you only sees the spine? Or the person across from you can only see "The Jewish Enemy" in big bold letters but not the rest? What will they think?

Thankfully, I drive to work so I don't have the "reading in public" problem (though I probably won't take this book anywhere else I go) and my co-workers are intelligent enough and know me well enough that it wouldn't be an issue. But despite knowing it won't cause any problems for me personally, it still makes me a bit uncomfortable.

Any other books with unfortunate titles that you can think of? Titles that, to the unknowledgeable, would present a different picture of what you're truly reading and perhaps give somebody the wrong impression of you?


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