Taylorsville author wins an Allbooks Review Editor's Choice Award
by Marie Nesmith
Jan 10, 2011 | 1323 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
More than a year after it was published, Jonathan Maxwell's first book is receiving acclaim on an international stage. Announced Dec. 29, the Taylorsville resident's "Murderous Intellectuals: German Elites and the Nazi SS" received the 2011 Allbooks Review Editor's Choice Award in the nonfiction category.

"I stumbled on the Allbooks Review website about a year ago," Maxwell said. "It's a Canadian online literary journal. I submitted a copy of my book to get a review. If you submitted a copy, then you would automatically be placed in the running. I never thought that I would win though, or even be nominated. The thought never crossed my mind. I didn't think I was important enough to win anything. I was simply hoping for a positive review. ... I was tremendously honored, obviously. It proves that I'm a professional writer and not an amateur. I'm still not sure if I truly deserve it. Some writers work their entire lives and never win awards. I received one with my first book. I think that I was lucky more than anything else. There's a lot of great work out there, whether it's from traditionally published authors or self-published ones."

In the nonfiction category, hundreds of entries were paired down to 24 in the final judging.

"This book shone above the others," said Shirley A. Roe, managing editor for Allbooks Review International. "It is always a difficult decision, however, this book is an excellent account of a difficult subject and extremely well written."

Maxwell developed an interest in the Holocaust at an early age, stemming from his father's military experiences in Germany and school lessons.

"I've always had an interest in the Holocaust," he said. "My father served as a soldier in Germany during the 1960s. From time to time, he would talk about his experiences there. He loved the German people and was amazed by their culture, the beautiful architecture, the music, the art. At the same time, I was learning in school that many of the Germans during the 1930s and the 1940s at least did terrible things to innocent people. By age 12, I was wondering how the Germans on one level could be so advanced, while, on another level, they could be savage. I started reading books about Nazi Germany, but none of them answered why this could be the case. Eventually, I just got frustrated and decided to write a book about the subject myself. ... Today, most people believe that the Nazis were mere thugs and street brawlers.

"To a degree, this is true. At the same time, though, there were many Nazis who were well-educated, were successful, and who came from stable middle or upper class backgrounds. The truth is far more disturbing. Josef Mengele is perhaps the most famous Nazi intellectual. He held two doctorate degrees and came from the upper class. He wasn't particularly exceptional, though. The Nazi party was full of doctors, lawyers, scientists and the like. Two Nazi scientists won Nobel Prizes. One death squad commander out in the Ukraine had been a college professor, while another one, like Josef Mengele, possessed two doctoral degrees."

The fact that his book addresses Nazi intellectuals is what Maxwell believes sets his work apart from other offerings on the Holocaust.

"I learned a lot of things, most of them disturbing," Maxwell said, about information he discovered while researching for "Murderous Intellectuals." "Oftentimes, the best-educated Nazis were also the most brutal of them. Most leaders in the Gestapo, the dreaded secret police, were lawyers. It was the intellectuals, the so-called 'best and brightest,' who were driving the genocide."

Published in November 2009 by Salt Lake City-based American Book Publishing, Maxwell's 322-page book retails for $17.55. "Murderous Intellectuals" can be purchased online at www.amazon.com and www.barnesandnoble.com and locally at Acworth Bookstore and Library. Currently working on his fifth literary work, Maxwell's second nonfiction book, "Piltdown Man and Other Hoaxes" will debut around June.