Defying Hitler: A Memoir Audiobook | Sebastian Haffner | Audible.com
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Defying Hitler: A Memoir | [Sebastian Haffner]

Defying Hitler: A Memoir

When the famous German author Sebastian Haffner died at the age of 91 in 1999, a manuscript was discovered among his unpublished papers. The book was begun in 1939, but with the advent of World War II, Haffner had set it aside. His family made the decision to publish it, and the book became a best seller in Germany in 2002. Spanning the period from 1907 to 1933, it offers a unique perspective on how the average educated German grappled with the rise of Hitler.
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Publisher's Summary

When the famous German author Sebastian Haffner died at the age of 91 in 1999, a manuscript was discovered among his unpublished papers. The book was begun in 1939, but with the advent of World War II, Haffner had set it aside. His family made the decision to publish it, and the book became a best seller in Germany in 2002. Spanning the period from 1907 to 1933, it offers a unique perspective on how the average educated German grappled with the rise of Hitler, the growing influence of Nazism, and a rapidly changing society.

Haffner's astute and compelling eyewitness accounts provide a broad overview of a country in a constant state of flux. He examines the pervasive influence of groups such as the Free Corps and the Hitler Youth movement that swept the nation. His own family's financial struggles illustrate the disaster that befell many of Germany's citizens during the apocalyptic year of 1923 when inflation devastated the country. The later peaceful but dangerously uninspiring Stresemann years contributed still further to Hitler's rise to power. This is an invaluable chronicling of day-to-day changes in attitudes, beliefs, politics, and prejudices.

A major best seller in Germany now available for the first time in English, Defying Hitler is an illuminating portrait of a time, a place, and a people.

©2000 Sarah Haffner and Oliver Pretzel; (P)2000 Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, Stuttgart/Munchen. Translation ©2002 Oliver Pretzel

What the Critics Say

"his is a gem of a book, with as much intellectual force as, say, The Diary of Anne Frank has emotional force....Essential reading about that fearsome era." (Booklist)
"[A] masterpiece...A series of vignettes that vividly convey the texture of life under an emerging totalitarian regime." (The New York Times Book Review)
"A vivid examination of just how Hitler's ascension affected an ordinary German....This intimate self-portrait stands with Victor Klemperer's two-part memoir, I Will Bear Witness, as evidence that the personal can offer insight into the political tragedy of Nazism." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

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4.0 (280 )
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3.9 (58 )
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  •  
    Douglas mission viejo, CA, USA 06-12-04
    Douglas mission viejo, CA, USA 06-12-04 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    198
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    160
    24
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    Overall
    "Great Read"

    Gripping and intelligent. What would my reaction have been were I a young man in Nazi Germany? I hope I would be even just a little like this man. I left this book feeling much deeper sense of the internal struggles with the myriad of external struggles. This is a captivating and must read both for its historical content but also, and most importantly, its ethical content.

    29 of 29 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anne Davis, CA, USA 07-21-04
    Anne Davis, CA, USA 07-21-04
    HELPFUL VOTES
    56
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    29
    7
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    Overall
    "simple, powerful, and meaningful"

    This book puts a human, individual face on the rise of Nazism in Germany from the story of one good, young man growing up within it. In contrast to the many war stories displaying simply good and evil, this book helps us understand how Nazism could have risen to such power and horror, and how or why the populace didn't stop it. The writing is honest, poignant, and clear. The reader is excellent and the story is engrossing--not depressing, simply full of wisdom. Most alarming is how swiftly good Germans and their state fell to the desires of a violent minority, and one can't help finding relevant comparisons to the world today. I'm glad I read this book. It added to my understanding of the world and how things can quickly change in a way you never thought possible.

    25 of 25 people found this review helpful
  •  
    GLENN Ventura, CA, United States 08-27-04
    GLENN Ventura, CA, United States 08-27-04
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    5
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    "A story of moral courage"

    Being interested in the history of World War II, I found the title intriguing, but felt uneasy about starting this book. I expected horrors. I was surprised at how reassuring this book was. The persistence of one person's moral center of gravity during a society's terrible moral collapse is profoundly moving. The chapter on "comradeship" is a brilliant essay on the way even a self-aware person can temporarily lose himself in group loyalty. The description of atrocities is chillingly understated. Haffner shows an astonishing ability to connect social, political, psychological and ethical themes. The prose is musical. I came away with a better understanding of how the world, at least the Western world, has changed since fascism, and with greater confidence in the future.

    15 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    W. A. Losurdo 01-19-06 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    12
    ratings
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    28
    3
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    1
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    Overall
    "Great reader"

    Undeniably, the best reader I have ever listened to- you actually feel as though he is the author. As for the book, I have always been fascinated by this period in history; wrongfully accusing the entire German population for the attrocities witnessed. Finally, a story that provides insight into the hellish Nazi peiod that divided a once proud people.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Adi Brooklyn, NY, USA 06-17-05
    Adi Brooklyn, NY, USA 06-17-05
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
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    1
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    "Simply Brilliant"

    Honest and thoughtful account of life in Germany leading up to World War II. The author provides a brief history of the main events that led to the Nazi takeover of government. Nevertheless, the majority of the book is his analysis of the mindset of the ordinary Germans in that trying time. The narrator is fantastic and the story is gripping. One of the best audiobooks I've listened to.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jay Horicon, WI, USA 10-13-05
    Jay Horicon, WI, USA 10-13-05 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
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    4
    2
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    Overall
    "One of the best I've heard"

    It is very easy for a historical account to be rather dry. This book brings this troubled time to life with a vibrant, enegetic narrative.

    I've been here for 3 years and this is easily one of the best books of any genre I've heard.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Doug Pemberton 03-27-05 Member Since 2001
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
    ratings
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    2
    1
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    Overall
    "Great read"

    I am very interested in World War II history. This book gives an intimate glance at what an ordinary citizen in Germany might be feeling at the time of Hitler's rise. The suspense, at times, reads like the greatest fiction. But it is a true account. Highly rated.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    gtcaz Tucson, AZ 02-10-08
    gtcaz Tucson, AZ 02-10-08 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    49
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    247
    4
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    Overall
    "Excellent"

    This is one of the best audiobooks I've purchased. An excellent view of how Hitler's Germany came to be from the perspective of an ordinary, that is to say incredibly talented and perceptive but not highly placed, German. Highly recommended.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Spencer San Juan Capistrano, CA, USA 01-11-06
    Spencer San Juan Capistrano, CA, USA 01-11-06 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    14
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    291
    11
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    Overall
    "Great Listen"

    This book put a real human look at the german people under the nazi rule. It helped to answer the questions of why--why didn't they stop this monster that took over their country. It gave a great look into the time before WWII in Germany and how that shaped the thought of the people. Very Interesting thoughts that will make you ponder for days.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    kent armeon 09-29-05
    kent armeon 09-29-05 Member Since 2001
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
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    18
    3
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    Overall
    "Excellent! A rare find..."

    What an insight into life inside Germany of WW11 as it was happening! Haven't we all wondered 'What would I have done?'

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
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