Edwin Black is an American syndicated columnist, and journalist specializing in human rights, the historical interplay between economics and politics in the Middle East, petroleum policy, the abuses practiced by corporations, and the financial underpinnings of Nazi Germany, among other topics. Black's ten works of non-fiction have been translated into an array of non-English languages, including French, Polish, Hungarian, Dutch, German, Spanish, Japanese, Portuguese, and Hebrew.
Black is the son of Polish Jews who were survivors of the Holocaust. His mother, Ethel "Edjya" Katz, hailed from Białystok, and had only managed to survive the Holocaust when as a 13-year old in August 1943 she was pushed to safety by her mother and other prisoners through the vent of a boxcar en route to the Treblinka extermination camp. She was subsequently shot by militiamen and left for dead in a shallow grave, from which she was pulled to safety.
Black's father had escaped his own murder by successfully fleeing to the woods from a long march to an isolated "shooting pit" and had subsequently fought the fascists as a Betar partisan. The pair had survived World War II by hiding in the forests of Poland for two years, emerging only after the end of the conflict and emigrating to the United States.
Of his own origins, Black has written: "I was born in Chicago, raised in Jewish neighborhoods, and my parents never tried to speak of their experience again."
In his book The Transfer Agreement Black notes that following in the beliefs of his parents he was from his earliest days a supporter of the State of Israel. As a young man he spent time on a kibbutz, visited Israel on several other occasions, and gave earnest consideration to permanent residency there.
Black began working as a professional journalist while still in high school, later attending university where he further developed the craft. In the late 1970s he was a founder of the investigative magazine, The Chicago Monthly. He also was a frequent freelance contributor to the four major Chicago newspapers of the day, the Tribune, the Daily News, the Sun-Times, and Chicago Today, as well as such weeklies as Chicago Reader and Chicago Magazine.
In 1978 Black interviewed the American Civil Liberties Union lawyer who represented members of the American Nazi Party which in an intended provocation had marched through the predominantly Jewish Chicago suburb of Skokie. In preparing himself for that interview, Black's interest was piqued in the hidden history of relations between the government of Adolf Hitler and German-Jewish Zionists during the first years of the Nazi regime. Five years of research followed, ending in the 1984 publication of his controversial first book, The Transfer Agreement: The Dramatic Story of the Pact Between the Third Reich and Jewish Palestine.
Black's books have typically made use of networks of volunteer and professional researchers assembled for each project. Three years before completion of his 2001 book, IBM and the Holocaust, Black began to put together what would ultimately become a team of more than 100 researchers, translators, and assistants to work on discovery and analysis of primary source documents written in German, French, and Polish. In all, more than 20,000 documents from some 50 different libraries, archives, museums, and other collections were assembled and analyzed in the writing of the book.
In the fall of 2012 it was reported that Plan B, a production company owned by actor Brad Pitt, had taken an option on a cinematic adaptation of Black's IBM and the Holocaust. Marcus Hinchey, co-writer of the 2010 film All Good Things, was tapped for script-writing responsibilities.
Black has written on topics beyond that of 1933-1945 German history, including books on the issue of oil dependence, the history of Iraq, and alternative energy. He is presently a contributor to the online magazine, The Cutting Edge. In March 2013, the author began the Edwin Black Show on the IBC-TV network which delves into various aspects of his books and human rights.
Black has also occasionally written on the subject of film and television music, contributing opinion pieces and composer interviews to various print and online publications. An aficionado of musical soundtracks, Black regularly credits specific works which have provided "musical inspiration that propelled the writing" in the introductory notes to each book.
Black lives today in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.
Selected literary awards
- 1985: Carl Sandburg Award of the Friends of the Chicago Public Library for best non-fiction book of 1984, for The Transfer Agreement.
- 2003: Outstanding Book Award: General Nonfiction from the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) for the book IBM and the Holocaust.
- 2003: Donald Robinson Award for Investigative Journalism from the ASJA for the article "Final Solutions: How IBM Helped Automate the Nazi Death Machine in Poland," published in The Village Voice.
- 2005: Best World Affairs Book Award from the Great Lakes chapter of the World Affairs Council for Banking on Baghdad.
- 2007: Honorable Mention for General Non-Fiction Books from the ASJA for the book Internal Combustion.
- The Transfer Agreement: The Dramatic Story of the Pact Between the Third Reich and Jewish Palestine. New York: Macmillan, 1984.
- Format C: (novel) Washington, DC: Dialog Press, 1999.
- IBM and the Holocaust: The Strategic Alliance between Nazi Germany and America's Most Powerful Corporation. New York: Crown Publishers, 2001.
- War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to Create a Master Race. New York: Basic Books, 2003.
- Banking on Baghdad: Inside Iraq's 7,000-Year History of War, Profit, and Conflict. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2004.
- Internal Combustion: How Corporations and Governments Addicted the World to Oil and Derailed the Alternatives. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2006.
- The Plan: How to Rescue Society When the Oil Stops — or the Day Before. (cover title) Washington, DC: Dialog Press, 2008.
- Nazi Nexus: America's Corporate Connections to Hitler's Holocaust. Washington, DC: Dialog Press, 2009.
- The Farhud: The Arab-Nazi Alliance in the Holocaust. Washington, DC: Dialog Press, 2010.
- British Petroleum and the Redline Agreement. Washington, DC: Dialog Press, 2011.
- Financing the Flames: How Tax-Exempt and Public Money Fuel a Culture of Confrontation and Terror in Israel. Washington, DC: Dialog Press, 2013.
- Götz Aly and Karl Heinz Roth, The Nazi Census: Identification and Control in the Third Reich. Introduction and translation by Edwin Black. Additional translation by Assenka Oksiloff. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2004.
- John Friedman (ed.), The Secret Histories: Hidden Truths That Challenged the Past and Changed the World. New York: Picador Books, 2005.
- Eric Katz (ed.), Death By Design: Science, Technology, and Engineering in Nazi Germany. New York: Pearson Longman, 2006.
- Alan Dershowitz (ed.), What Israel Means to Me: By 80 Prominent Writers, Performers, Scholars, Politicians, and Journalists. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2006.
- Michael T. Wilson (ed.), Democracy: Opposing Viewpoints. Farmington Hills, MI : Greenhaven Press/Thomson Gale, 2006.
- Tobias Daniel Wabbel (ed.), Das Heilige Nichts: Gott nach dem Holocaust (The Holy Nothingness: God after the Holocaust), Düsseldorf, Germany: Patmos Publishers, 2007.
Contributions to video documentaries
- IBM's Role and the Holocaust, Guerrilla News Network, 2001.
- The King of Capitalism, BBC, 2002.
- The Corporation Big Picture Media Corporation/Hello Cool World.com, 2002.
- Saddam and the Third Reich, History Channel, 2007.
- Racism: A History, BBC, 2007.
- War Against the Weak—The Movie, 2009.
- One Mainframe to Rule Them All, Faull Brothers, 2010.
- "Edwin Black" author search, WorldCat, Online Computer Library Center. Retrieved May 8, 2010.
- Edwin Black, "After Escaping from Nazi Boxcar, Polish Jew Shared Inspiring Life Story," Our Jerusalem, http://www.ourjerusalem.com/
- Black, "Introduction to the 1984 Edition," The Transfer Agreement, pp. xxii-xxiii.
- Edwin Black, "Introduction to the 1984 Edition," The Transfer Agreement: The Dramatic Story of the Pact Between the Third Reich and Jewish Palestine. Washington, DC: Dialog Press, 2009; pg. xxii.
- The Transfer Agreement one-sheet, Israel Visit.co.il. Retrieved May 9, 2010.
- "Edwin Black" biography, Feature Group.com Retrieved May 9, 2010.
- Edwin Black, "Introduction to the 1984 Edition," The Transfer Agreement, pg. xxi.
- Edwin Black interview with Stuart Weinblatt, The Transfer Agreement. (video) Rockville, Maryland, October 30, 2009. C-SPAN Book TV.
- Edwin Black, IBM and the Holocaust: The Strategic Alliance Between Nazi Germany and America's Most Powerful Corporation. Washington, DC: Dialog Press, 2001; pg. 12.
- Black, IBM and the Holocaust, pg. 13.
- "Brad Pitt to Produce Movie on IBM & the Holocaust," The Jewish Voice, Sept. 19, 2012.
- "About Us", The Cutting Edge, www.thecuttingedgenews.com/ Retrieved April 7, 2012.
- Jerry Goldsmith talks to Edwin Black
- See, for example, Edwin Black, Financing the Flames: How Tax-Exempt and Public Money Fuel a Culture of Confrontation and Terror in Israel. Washington, DC: Dialog Press, 2013; pg. xxiii, in which he credits specific works by Jerry Zimmer, Anthony Gonzalez, and Jerry Goldsmith.
- Martin Barillas, "Author Holds Historic Event on The Transfer Agreement," The Cutting Edge.com, October 12, 2009. Retrieved May 9, 2010.
- "ASJA Presents 2003 Writing Awards," American Society of Journalists and Authors, ASJA.org. Retrieved May 9, 2010.
- "Awards," Edwin Black.com. Retrieved May 9, 2010.
- "2007 Awards," American Society of Journalists and Authors, ASJA.org. Retrieved May 9, 2010.
- Edwin Black official website, Edwin Black.com.
- The Edwin Black Show index page, IBC-TV.
- Edwin Black interviewed by Stuart Weinblatt, The Transfer Agreement. (video) Barnes and Noble Booksellers, Rockville, Maryland, October 30, 2009. C-SPAN Book TV. Air date: January 17, 2010.
- Edwin Black presentation, Nazi Nexus: America's Corporate Connections to Hitler's Holocaust. (video) East Park Synagogue, New York City. C-SPAN Book TV. Air date: May 16, 2009.
- Edwin Black presentation, The Plan: How to Rescue Society When the Oil Stops — or on the Day Before. (video) Temple Beth Tikvah, Fullerton, California. C-SPAN Book TV. Air date: January 3, 2009.