What’s Wrong with Ken Burns’s New Holocaust Documentary + Free Book

Ken Burns’s documentary The U.S. and The Holocaust has not finished its run on PBS. Nevertheless, the content that has aired is biased toward both the United States and President Franklin Roosevelt.

The documentary states that the United States took in more Jewish refugees than any other sovereign nation during the Nazi era. As Dr. Rafael Medoff asked in his September 13, 2022 article in The Jerusalem Post, why didn’t Burns simply use the word country instead of sovereign nation? Because, though it was not a sovereign nation, Palestine let in more Jews than the U.S. Of course, if you’re not paying attention to the very careful wording, you might assume that the U.S. was more generous toward Jewish refugees than any other land. Interestingly, as Medoff notes, the statement is false even with the words “sovereign nation.” The Soviet Union, a sovereign nation, allowed more Jews in than the U.S.

The other major problem with the documentary is its favoritism towards FDR. Viewers are repeatedly told that there was nothing FDR could have done for the Jews because, well, insert excuse. Because Congress wouldn’t approve higher immigration quotas. Because even Jews close to FDR could not decide whether having him make a statement on Nazi atrocities would help or hurt Jews in Europe. Historian Deborah Lipstadt states that it was not as though FDR could have “snapped his fingers” and helped the Jews of Europe himself. After all, there was “plenty of blame to go around.”

Yet in 1944 FDR did the equivalent of snapping his fingers and helping Jews. He accomplished this by signing an executive order that created the War Refugee Board. The War Refugee Board had the power to “rescue the victims of enemy oppression who are in imminent danger of death.” As I explain in my book Passionate Crusaders, the WRB’s members provided physical rescue and humanitarian relief to thousands of persecuted people, though they were not all Jewish. Hard numbers are difficult to come by, but there is no question that if FDR had established the WRB earlier, more Jews would have survived the Holocaust.

As a result of my disagreements with Ken Burns’s documentary, I am making my book Passionate Crusaders FREE on Amazon Kindle from today, September 20th to September 24th.

Link to my book: https://amzn.to/1GDI2qq

Link to Dr. Medoff’s article: https://www.jpost.com/opinion/article-716987

Limited Time Book Sale for Holocaust and U.S. History Buffs!

My book Passionate Crusaders: How Members of the U.S. War Refugee Board Saved Jews and Altered American Foreign Policy during World War II is ON SALE until Christmas here: http://amzn.to/2gBVVD8

It’s the story of a few good men who tried to save Jews and others from the Holocaust at the last minute. These ordinary people had hope in the face of impossible odds, and isn’t that what we could all use this holiday season?

Available for $0.99 on Kindle and $8.99 paperback. Happy holidays to my readers.


My History Book is Finally Published!

My proof copy of my book, Passionate Crusaders: How Members of the U.S. War Refugee Board Saved Jews and Altered American Foreign Policy during World War II arrived in the mail this week. After finding, as my friend’s daughter would say, a couple of “uh-ohs” in the proof, it’s finally done. I promised to limit myself to a few photos and my Amazon link for my fellow history buffs.


My book's selfie

My book’s selfie


Reading my book with my favorite dog, Zoey


One happy author!

Isn’t my cover designer (Jane Dixon-Smith) great?

My Book’s Back Cover Copy: Thoughts?

I’m looking for my readers’ opinions on my back cover copy for Passionate Crusaders: How Members of the U.S. War Refugee Board Saved Jews and Altered American Foreign Policy During World War II. Comments welcome!

Passionate Crusaders tells the gripping story of a few righteous Americans who sought to do what many thought impossible in 1944—save Jews who had not yet been murdered in the Holocaust.

By January 1944, Treasury Department officials Henry Morgenthau, John Pehle, and Josiah DuBois had already convinced President Franklin Roosevelt to create the War Refugee Board, an agency with the authority to provide rescue and relief for Jews and other groups persecuted by the Nazis.

Scholars have criticized the Board for its inability to save more Jews and maintained that the agency should have been created sooner. Heather Voight’s research shows that despite its shortcomings, the War Refugee Board changed history and forever altered American foreign policy. Its creation ended the cycle of indifference that the government and the American public had shown to victims of the Holocaust. In the words of Henry Morgenthau, from 1944-1945 “crusaders, passionately persuaded of the need for speed and action” risked their reputations and sometimes their lives to save Jews.

In addition to saving more than 100,000 lives, Board members also made a lasting impact on international law. They pressured the War Crimes Commission to broaden its definition of war crimes by including the murder of civilians by their own countrymen. This definition of war crimes was applied to genocides committed many decades later in Bosnia and Rwanda, and continues to be used today.

“[Passionate Crusaders] shows that the efforts of an honorable and courageous few can create small steps to change history. This detailed, well-told, and inspiring story will be of value to students of the Holocaust, American history, and human rights.” –From the Foreword by Dr. Leon Stein, Professor Emeritus of History and Education Director Emeritus, Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center.

Heather Voight is a successful freelance writer and history blogger. Since 2009, she has published articles on a variety of topics including the Gibson Girl, healthcare, and the writings of C.S. Lewis. She has a B.A. in History and English.


How to Choose an Editor for a Self-Published Book

As those of you who read this blog regularly know, I am in the process of self-publishing my book, Passionate Crusaders: How the U.S. War Refugee Board Saved Jews and Altered American Foreign Policy during World War II. After reading some great books on self-publishing, I knew I needed a professional editor. It took a lot of work for me to find the editor that was right for my book. Hopefully this post will make the process of finding one easier for others.

Step One: Contact other self-published authors you admire and ask them for recommendations.

I’ve found that many self-published authors are happy to share the names of editors with whom they or someone they know has worked. Sometimes an author will include the name of an editor in the acknowledgements of his or her book, so that’s another way to build your list.

Step Two: Realize that you are not finished after step one.

Please don’t assume that you have the perfect editor for your book once you have a few names. You need to get to know your potential editors first by moving to step three.

Step Three: Visit the editor’s website to see how seriously this person views editing as a career.

If the spelling/grammar on the site is poor, you know it’s time to move on. (I’m not kidding—I’ve seen editor websites that had multiple spelling and grammar errors). Also, see what other services this person offers. Does he/she offer primarily editing and proofreading services, or is editing tacked on to a long list of other things? Most of the time, people who tell you that they can provide everything your book needs are better at some tasks than others. You don’t want to find out that their weakness is editing.  

Step Four: Find out if this person edits books in your genre/uses your style manual.

For example, as a history writer, I wanted someone with experience editing similar books and who could make sure my book conformed to the Chicago Manual of Style. An editor who worked exclusively on mystery novels might be talented, but not a good fit for my book.

Step Five: Initiate e-mail contact with a few editors and ask for basic information.

This will give you a chance to find out more about these people. You can ask about pricing, if they’re taking new clients, when they might be free to work on the book, etc. See if their writing style and personality fits with yours.

Step Six: Study the editors’ responses for mistakes or other quirks.

I got to this step with one editor and realized that she had misspelled my first name, which is in the dictionary. Needless to say, I didn’t hire her.

Step Seven: Ask the editors who are still on your list to copy edit a few pages of your book.

Before any freelance editors who are reading this get angry with me, I’m not saying that an editor can’t charge a fee for a sample of their work. However, self-published authors need to see how the right editor can transform their manuscripts. When I received my sample manuscript pages from the editor I later chose, I was amazed at how much he had improved my work. For example, after adding material to the first chapter, I forgot to include one historical figure’s title–secretary of war–the first time his name appeared. Fortunately, my editor saw my mistake, along with others.

Step Eight: Hire the editor who amazes you!