Sir Martin Gilbert (1936-2015) was a leading British historian and the author of more than eighty books. Specializing in 20th century history, he was the official biographer of Winston Churchill and wrote a best-selling eight-volume biography of the war leader’s life.
Born in London in 1936, Martin Gilbert was evacuated to Canada with his family at the beginning of World War II as part of the British government’s efforts to protect children from the brutal bombings of the Luftwaffe. He was made a Fellow of Merton College, Oxford, in 1962. He is the author of several definitive historical works examining the Holocaust, the First and Second World Wars, and the history of the 20th century.
In 1990, Gilbert was designated a Commander of the Order of the British Empire, and was awarded a Knighthood in 1995. Oxford University awarded him a Doctorate in 1999. Gilbert was a sought-after speaker on Churchill, Jewish history, and the history of the 20th century, and traveled frequently to lecture at colleges, universities, and organizations around the world.
Sir Martin first met "Auntie Fori" in 1958,when he arrived in New Delhi with a letter of introduction from her son, a fellow Oxford student. Their friendship flourished for forty years through correspondence and visits to the capitals where her husband, the diplomat B. K. Nehru, was posted. Then, at her ninetieth birthday celebration in 1998, Auntie Fori told her "adopted nephew" that she was not of Indian birth but was actually Hungarian–and Jewish. She did not know what this Jewish identity involved, historically or spiritually, and she asked him to enlighten her.
In response, Sir Martin embarked on the series of letters that have been gathered to form this book, shaping each one as a concise, individually formed story. He presents Jewish history as the narrative expression–the timeline–of the Jewish faith, and the faith as it is informed by the history. Starting with Adam and Eve, he then brings us to Abraham and his descendants, who worshiped a God who repeatedly, and often dramatically, intervened in their lives. The stories of Genesis and Exodus lead seamlessly on to those of the eras when the land was ruled by the Israelite kings and then by Assyria, Babylonia, Persia, Greece, and Rome–the Biblical and post-Biblical periods. In Sir Martin’s hands, these stories are rich in incident and achievement. He then traces the long history of the Jews in the Diaspora, ending with an unexpected visit to an outpost of Jewry in Anchorage, Alaska. Ranging through almost every country in the world–including China and India–he maintains a chronological structure, weaving in the history of other peoples and faiths, to give Auntie Fori, and us, a sense of the larger stage on which Jewish history has played out.
"An unforgettable contribution to the history of the last war." –Jewish ChronicleWhy did they wait so long? Among the myriad questions of what the Allies could have done differently in World War II, understanding why it took them so long to respond to the horrors of the Nazi concentration camps—specifically Auschwitz—remains vital today.In Auschwitz and the Allies, Martin Gilbert presents a comprehensive look into the series of decisions that helped shape this particular course of the war, and the fate of millions of people, through his eminent blend of exhaustive devotion to the facts and accessible, graceful writing.Featuring 20 maps prepared specifically for this history and 34 photographs, along with firsthand accounts by escaped Auschwitz prisoners, Gilbert reconstructs the span of time between Allied awareness and definitive action in the face of overwhelming evidence of Nazi atrocities.
In 1996, prominent Holocaust historian Sir Martin Gilbert embarked on a fourteen-day journey into the past with a group of his MA students from University College, London. Their destination? Places where the terrible events of the Holocaust had left their mark in Europe.From the railway lines near Auschwitz to the site of Oskar Schindler's heroic efforts in Krakow, Poland, Holocaust Journey features intimate personal meditations from one of our greatest modern historians, and is supported by wartime documents, letters, and diaries as well as over 50 photographs and maps by the author, all of which help interweave Gilbert’s trip with his students with the surrounding history of the towns, camps, and other locations visited. The result is a narrative of the Holocaust that ties the past to the present with poignancy and power.