Among books of Jewish interest, three that I find evoke reflective, often sophisticated, and sometimes passionate responses from students are:
Primo Levi, Survival in Auschwitz (Classic House Books, 2008 )
Which, in its bare-bones sobriety, strips away so much of the phony sentimentality, emotional exploitation, and political instrumentalization that frequently attach to literature of the Shoah.
Maxime Rodinson, Israel: A Colonial- Settler State? (Anchor Foundation, 1988 ), which I generally teach together with J. L. Talmon, Israel among the Nations (Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 1970)
Two cogently and eloquently argued statements of diametrically opposed views of the nature of the Arab-Israeli conflict by two of the great historians of the last generation.
Isaiah Trunk, Judenrat: The Jewish Councils in Eastern Europe under Nazi Occupation (University of Nebraska Press, 1996)
One of the great humane works of historical scholarship of the late twentieth century and also an effective antidote to Hannah Arendt's unhistorical, indeed one might say anti- historical, Eichmann in Jerusalem.