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The Lampshade: A Holocaust Detective Story from Buchenwald to New Orleans

The Lampshade: A Holocaust Detective Story from Buchenwald to New Orleans - Mark Jacobson As a “Holocaust detective story,” The Lampshade has few actual clues. Jacobson has a DNA profile made at the lab that identified the meager remains of many 9/11 victims, which shows that the lampshade is likely to be human, though the age and degradation of the material makes an absolute determination impossible. There’s little opportunity for a Sherlock Holmes to deduce the lampshade’s origins with much clarity.But the heart of “The Lampshade” is less the quest for the lampshade’s origins, than it is an investigation of the tangled stories of racism and injustice in Germany and the United States. The book starts with Goethe, whose favorite walking site would become the location of the Buchenwald concentration camp, and with Robert Johnson at the crossroads in Clarksville, Mississippi, where the man who gives the lampshade to Jacobson spent years trying to get fitting recognition paid to the area’s rich musical legacy. Throughout the book, Jacobson illuminates connections between lynchings, neo-Nazi marches, grave robbing, medical cadavers, Mardi Gras krewes, and care for the dead. He discovers that Holocaust deniers are more open to the lampshade’s possible Holocaust connections than are the Holocaust museums in Washington, DC, and Jerusalem, and that Buchenwald itself, tainted for half a century by East Germany’s Cold War interpretation of the camp and struggling to overcome the heroic anti-fascist myths of the Communist era, isn’t particularly interested in a homecoming.full review here