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John W Primomo

Published Author

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John W Primomo is a retired United States Magistrate Judge for the Western District of Texas in San Antonio.  He has authored The Rio Grande Sniper Killings;Caught in the Sights of A Drug Conspiracy, Architect of Death at Auschwitz: A Biography of Rudolf Höss, and The Appomattox Generals; The Parallel Lives of Joshua L. Chamberlain, USA, and John B. Gordon, CSA, Commanders at the Surrender Ceremony of April 12, 1865.  For 30 years, he volunteered with Camp Discovery, a summer camp in South Texas for children with cancer.  He also served as the President of the non-profit corporation that operates Camp Discovery and other camps for children with cancer and their families.

The Rio Grande Sniper Killings is the tragic true story of the murders of Charlotte Kay Elliott and Kevin Edwin Frase on the night of July 13, 1980, at Pepe's On the River, an outdoor bar on the Rio Grande River in Mission, Texas. A hitman, hired to kill a federal grand jury witness in a drug case, fired a high-powered rifle into the bar, missing his target and killing the two young bystanders.


The book details the drug and murder conspiracies and the events that led to the assassin's identification. When state court prosecutions for capital murder faltered, he was charged in federal court with attempting to intimidate a federal witness. As a member of the judge’s staff, the author was present throughout the trial. Based on his recollections and 29-year career as a federal judge, the author presents his unique perspective and legal analysis of the killer’s federal trial.


"John Primomo's The Rio Grande Sniper Killings is an exhaustively researched and straightforward analysis of a time and a crime that most today are likely to know little, if anything, about. At a macro level, the entirety of the Loop 360 Deal operation shows us how drug-crime investigations of the period were handled, for better or worse, by the DEA and TDPS, roles in this book that are specifically represented by investigators like Richard Braziel and Robert Nesteroff. On a much more personal scale, Primomo's sensitive portrayal of the victims' families adds a powerful emotional dimension and humanizes the broader crime discussion. As a reader who is deeply entrenched in advocating for the disenfranchised, Primomo's extension of the crimes' impact into socio-cultural aspects, like the brunt domino effect on the community surrounding Pepe's on the River, which was implicated in the crime, connects the individual incidents to larger societal contexts. The diversity of strengths the book and Primomo's writing have are the cornerstone of solid crime analysis and non-fiction, making The Rio Grande Sniper Killings a solid and substantive read."

Asher Sayed for Reader's Favorite

Rudolf Höss has been called the greatest mass murderer in history.  As the creator and commandant of Auschwitz, he supervised the killing of more than 1.1 million people.  Unlike many Nazis who denied either knowing about or participating in the Holocaust, Höss frankly acknowledged his role in Hitler’s Final Solution.  Utilizing Auschwitz records, as well as the testimony of numerous survivors and even SS, Architect of Death at Auschwitz describes the plight of hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children forcibly taken from their homes, packed into cattle cars, and transported to their deaths in the Auschwitz gas chambers.  The book also details the tortuous camp life endured by those found sufficiently fit to work.

Although forthcoming about the horrors of Auschwitz, Höss denied personal responsibility, insisting that disobedient subordinates imposed cruelty on Auschwitz inmates.  He also blamed Hitler and Himmler for the Final Solution, claiming to be  an unknowing “cog in the wheel of the great extermination machine.”  In truth, Höss utilized his own ingenuity in systematically and efficiently executing Hitler’s order to exterminate European Jews.  Contrary to his claim that he was never cruel or mistreated any prisoners, Höss acted with ruthless brutality, wielding his power over life and death mercilessly and without emotion.

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Official Review: Architect of Death at Auschwitz

Post by Kansas City Teacher » August 9, 2020, 20:57

[Following is an official review of "Architect of Death at Auschwitz" by John W Primomo.]

4 out of 4 stars

Architect of Death at Auschwitz, written by John W. Primomo, chronicles the life of one of Nazi Germany’s most notorious commanders. Born into a Catholic family, Rudolf Höss had the attributes of a leader from a very young age. A strong-willed and determined young man, he was fascinated by the military and joined the Nazi Party, pledging allegiance to the Third Reich and Hitler. Rising through the ranks, he worked under Heinrich Himmler and eventually became the commander at Auschwitz, where more than one million “enemies of the state” were sent to their deaths. Höss was the most forthcoming of all the high-ranking Nazis. Through his memoirs and interviews with Allied investigators, the world gains insight into the twisted psyche of the Nazi mentality.

There is no shortage of books about the horrors of the Holocaust. This book is different from others because it tells a story of a man from different angles through an objective and comprehensive lens. What was it that led this man to commit such heinous acts? Like many thought-provoking books will do, the book prompted me to read about the other Nazi leaders and the Nuremberg War Trials, which in turn had me listening to testimonies of Auschwitz survivors. Scores of stories from many nations tell different sides of the same story. While each experience is different, there is also a unifying element: the suffering and abuse at the hands of Rudolf Höss and his subordinates.

The best part of this book is the insightful and objective analysis of a man who by any standard is the definition of evil. After a preface that serves as an outline for the book, each chapter provides an abundance of descriptive detail written in academic but straightforward language. Photographs complement the text. The book is carefully researched; the author was meticulous in annotating his reputable sources to support his ideas. I feel this gives a sense of authenticity and validity to the writing. There are poignant details in this book that I have not learned from any other source. Also worth noting is the superb editing; given the complexity and length of the text, it is unexpected to find so few errors. For the detailed analysis, historical context, and informative nature of the writing, I give this book 4 out of 4 stars.

There is nothing I disliked about the book; the author’s portrayal of the events at Auschwitz and the life of Rudolf Höss is nothing less than captivating. The only negative thing I could say is that I found some parts of the book to be repetitive. However, when telling a life story and describing legal proceedings, it may be necessary to create a holistic representation of events. The restating of descriptions and events can also be attributed to the organization of the book and the author’s writing style.

Kansas City Teacher

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Joshua L. Chamberlain of Maine and John B. Gordon of Georgia led the Union and Confederate armies, respectively, at the formal surrender ceremony at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia on April 12, 1865.  Both men were volunteers and began their service as low-level officers.  Throughout the Civil War, Chamberlain and Gordon continuously demonstrated remarkable aptitude and extraordinary courage, earning them the respect and accolades of their superiors and subordinates.  At the surrender ceremony, Chamberlain, in recognition of Southern bravery and the loss of brothers-in-arms, ordered the Union Army to salute the vanquished foe.  Gordon and his men responded in kind - - honor answering answer.

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"Nothing in the field of American History could be more timely than the lesson of respectful, civil discourse between two sides of a conflict. The additional theme of individual similarity, even in the midst of representing two different sides of a conflict, should give our current political leaders pause for thought. This should be required reading for undergraduates in Leadership Studies and our current elected officials."


                                                                          October 21, 2013


“For evil to flourish, it only requires good men to do nothing.”

Simon Weisenthal

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