Using new technology, recently discovered documents, and sophisticated investigative techniques, an international team led by an obsessed retired FBI agent has finally solved the mystery that has haunted generations since World War II: who betrayed Anne Frank and her family—and why?
Sullivan writes with absolute dedication and precision, bringing a previously obscure suspect to the fore ... Shaped like a procedural or a whodunit, The Betrayal of Anne Frank nonetheless hums with living history, human warmth and indignation. It agilely shifts the idea of 'collaboration' over eight decades and nearly 400 pages, from dark and insidious crime to noble quest with algorithmic transparency ... The banality of evil that Hannah Arendt provocatively located in the form of Adolf Eichmann is superseded in these pages by the bureaucracy of evil, which is so often also 'the bureaucracy of the absurd,' as Sullivan notes: an alphabet soup of agencies that helped render the vilest crimes against humanity pseudolegal and systematic. Names and terms accumulate and the mind can blur. But the facts of Frank’s devastatingly curtailed life command attention. Here, her famous diary is not literary work to be plundered at will, but Exhibit A in a mountain of damning evidence.
... intermittently gripping ... meticulous ... Sullivan describes the Cold Case Team’s interdisciplinary methods, from criminal profiling, historical research and crowdsourcing to a Microsoft artificial intelligence program that found connections within a blizzard of archival documents. But the book is most engrossing as a portrait of wartime Amsterdam, a city of conflicting and cross-cutting loyalties, where personal peril could erase the line between heroism and villainy ... Then she painstakingly escorts us down various blind alleys that the investigative team pursued, as it whittled 30 theories down to a dozen possible scenarios. Sullivan details and debunks some of these at length ... How much readers care about these dead-ends will depend on both their investment in the Anne Frank saga and their patience. Sullivan’s meandering narrative can be tedious when it focuses on the mystery’s many red herrings ... Sullivan’s dissection of Nazi-occupied Amsterdam’s labyrinthine ethical byways—and how genocidal war produced moral rot—may be a greater contribution than the true-crime story that inspired the project.
... a deep dive into life in the Netherlands in the grotesque and difficult year that was 1944. It describes the lives of occupiers and occupied, of perpetrators and victims, of collaborators and those who looked away. For this alone, Sullivan has made a significant contribution, even if the narrative only begins to draw the reader in late in the game, after a long haul through much introductory material, many characters who turn out to be insignificant, and a raft of theories that are raised, then knocked down ... What might have been a page-turner doesn’t begin to seize until Chapter 35 (out of 43), a few hundred pages in ... I read the pages with an eye honed by decades spent seeking to prove facts about long-ago crimes in a variety of courts. I may not be a typical reader, but I feel bound to share that the conclusion reached would have zero prospect of being endorsed by any court, or anyone with any modicum of legal training ... Ultimately, The Betrayal of Anne Frank induces a feeling of discomfort ... If Van den Bergh had any role or responsibility for what happened at Prinsengracht 263, the evidence is not to be found in this book.