Over the course of 1961, the New Yorker published Hannah Arendt’s reports on the trial of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann. Her articles would give rise to a controversy in which Arendt would lose friends, as well as the support of many in the Jewish community. They also gave rise to one of the most significant philosophical concepts to emerge in the aftermath of the Holocaust: the idea of the banality of evil. Arendt painted a picture of Eichmann as a bureaucrat and a follower, who committed atrocities not out of ideology or hatred, but rather through a pronounced inability to think for himself. She writes,
[I]t would have been very comforting indeed to believe that Eichmann was a monster, even though if he had been Israel’s case against him would have collapsed or, at the very least, lost all interest. Surely, one can hardly call upon the whole world and gather correspondents from the four corners of the earth in order to display Bluebeard in the dock. The trouble with Eichmann was precisely that so many were like him, and that the many were neither perverted nor sadistic, that they were and still are, terribly and terrifyingly normal.' (Introduction)
Also discusses George Eliot's Daniel Deronda.