Recalling horror stories of World War II death camps, including the persistent tale that the skin of murdered prisoners was used to make lampshades and other "mementos," journalist Mark Jacobson tells the story of how he came into possession of one of these awful objects, and of his determined search to establish its true origin and its larger meaning in human history.
"Antic, improbable and resonant ... an entangling meditation on not merely Nazi atrocities but on the nature of authenticity."—NYTimes
"Jacobson's writing is ... both gonzo and fiercely, fiercely smart. The Lampshade is an awfully good book and it's exceptionally heartfelt."—Daily Beast
"The origins of this story go back to Buchenwald, the Nazi concentration camp, where Ilse Koch, the sadistic wife of the commandant, developed a liking for things (gloves, lampshades) made out of human skin. Flash forward to the present: the author receives a strange artifact in the mail from a friend: a lampshade that appears to be made from human skin. This fascinating and frequently unsettling book chronicles Jacobson's quest to find a proper home for the lampshade and, if possible, to find out exactly where it came from. The book also explores the history of torture by flaying (the gods of Greek mythology did it; so did Ed Gein, the American serial killer of the 1950s), and the impact of the Nuremburg trials. Journalist Jacobson avoids sensationalizing this inherently sensational story, taking a reportorial approach to the material. A chilling reminder that the aftereffects of World War II and the Holocaust continue to be felt, even in the most unlikely of ways."—Booklist