Book Review: The Order of the Day by Eric Vuillard


Winner of the 2017 Prix Goncourt, this behind-the-scenes account of the manipulation, hubris, and greed that together led to Nazi Germany’s annexation of Austria brilliantly dismantles the myth of an effortless victory and offers a dire warning for our current political crisis. 

“The sun is a cold star.”

The words used to introduce us to a world we wish never even existed in literature, let alone in real life. Imagine a single day in history. One day. 24 hours. Now, imagine that God chose to abandon us for that day.

The players that Vuillard writes about are all well known: Siemens, Opel, Reuter, Krupp. The folks who run businesses such as Bayern, Agfa, Farben, Allianz, Varta. They are the titans of industry, the owners of mass-media, and they are all there, on the marbled steps of the Reichstag, in the presence of Hermann Göring. All of them waiting for Hitler.

This is how the vertigo that is this novel starts. Heads are supposed to spin. It is almost scandalous to imagine all these bankers, business owners, all of them contributing towards the plague that would cover the world for more than a decade. Their money, their donations, their influence will seal the fate of millions and millions of people.

We’re all familiar with Oskar Schindler’s story and the impressive number of Jews he saved, but at the same time,  companies such as Bayern, BMW, or Daimler never complained about the free labor force they were receiving from Dachau or Mauthausen.

There are numerous questions one must try to answer while reading The Order of the Day.

What is a company? What does it mean to buy products from a company that contributed to the Holocaust? A company is not a real person, and yet..

I highly recommend The Order of the Day, if only for this shift in perspective when it comes to purchasing products from certain companies.

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