This is a very good book. It covers a critically important topic in history that is often neglected, and does it in good detail with great prose. One thing in particular I liked about it was that on several occasions it discusses some other events going on in Europe at the time, and is thus even more informative than it would be otherwise.
I have read so much on John Adams that I didn't think this book would contain much information that I didn't already know, but it does. It is well written and tells you a lot about the Adamses in general, and their marriage in particular. John and Abigail (and John Quincy for that matter) left behind so many letters and writings that scholars still haven't been able to go through them all. Because of this, there is so much information about them that one or two books about them doesn't tell you even many of the basics. This book also shines a light on daily life in their day, which we can only see because the Adamses left behind so many writings. I highly recommend this book, along with the John Adams biography by David McCullough, the Abigail biography by Woody Holton, and the John Quincy biography by Paul Nagel. I have gone through all of these and they all contained a lot of information that I hadn't known before.
I have read a lot, and few books that I have read are as good and informative as this. The author does a good job of explaining the life of Genghis Khan. But what I really liked is his summary of the history of the Mongolian empire after Genghis Khan's death, and its broader impact in world history. I also really liked the author's discussion of the way the Mongols were seen in 18th century Europe, and how that impacted the way they viewed Asians and led to eastern colonialism. I highly recommend this book.
Painter, musician, bibliophile...
In this well-researched book, the author goes to great lengths to show how Hitler saw himself, whether or not we agree with or understand that self-concept. Hitler saw himself, first and foremost, as an artist.
So many myths and legends continue to be put about regarding Hitler's artistic impulses, from accusing him of "having no talent" to saying he was a housepainter. (Neither is true).
The author speaks of the great outrage that attends any book speaking about Hitler as possibly having human qualities. This tendency can eclipse a more balanced view of certain areas of his character and motivations, which is in no way to defend his undeniable responsibility for atrocities.
I was fascinated at an experience the author described. Showing prints of Hitler's watercolors (without signature) he described people's reactions to the pieces. Most expressed appreciation for the pleasing if unimaginative renderings of street scenes and architecture. Then he told them who painted them and the surprise was rather dramatic.
Hitler's obsession --- and it was indeed an obsession --- with all the arts is subdivided into several sections:
The Reluctant Dictator
The Artful Leader
The Artist of Destruction
The Failed Painter
The Art Dictator
The Perfect Wagnerite
The Music Master
The Master Builder
The book is a fascinating selection for anyone interested in Hitler's psychology, the Third Reich's policies regarding the arts, and German history. It provides valuable insights into a somewhat neglected area, and while it in no way defends or praises Hitler, it does illuminate aspects of his character which are not found in broader histories.