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Hitler: A Biography | [Ian Kershaw]

Hitler: A Biography

Hailed as the most compelling biography of the German dictator yet written, Ian Kershaw's Hitler brings us closer than ever before to the heart of its subject's immense darkness. From his illegitimate birth in a small Austrian village to his fiery death in a bunker under the Reich chancellery in Berlin, Adolf Hitler left a murky trail, strewn with contradictory tales and overgrown with self-created myths. One truth prevails: the sheer scale of the evils that he unleashed on the world has made him a demonic figure without equal in the 20th century.
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Publisher's Summary

Hailed as the most compelling biography of the German dictator yet written, Ian Kershaw's Hitler brings us closer than ever before to the heart of its subject's immense darkness. From his illegitimate birth in a small Austrian village to his fiery death in a bunker under the Reich chancellery in Berlin, Adolf Hitler left a murky trail, strewn with contradictory tales and overgrown with self-created myths. One truth prevails: the sheer scale of the evils that he unleashed on the world has made him a demonic figure without equal in the 20th century.

Ian Kershaw's Hitler brings us closer than ever before to the character of the bizarre misfit in his 30-year ascent from a Viennese shelter for the indigent to uncontested rule over the German nation that had tried and rejected democracy in the crippling aftermath of World War I. With extraordinary vividness, Kershaw recreates the settings that made Hitler's rise possible: the virulent anti-Semitism of prewar Vienna, the crucible of a war with immense casualties, the toxic nationalism that gripped Bavaria in the 1920s, the undermining of the Weimar Republic by extremists of the Right and the Left, the hysteria that accompanied Hitler's seizure of power in 1933 and then mounted in brutal attacks by his storm troopers on Jews and others condemned as enemies of the Aryan race.

In an account drawing on many previously untapped sources, Hitler metamorphoses from an obscure fantasist, a "drummer" sounding an insistent beat of hatred in Munich beer halls, to the instigator of an infamous failed putsch and, ultimately, to the leadership of a ragtag alliance of right-wing parties fused into a movement that enthralled the German people.

©1998, 2000, 2008 Ian Kershaw (P)2013 Audible, Inc.

What Members Say

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  •  
    Christopher Bloomington, IL, United States 10-12-13
    Christopher Bloomington, IL, United States 10-12-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Superb, well crafted and well narrated."

    This is an excellent book on a difficult subject. With so many books on or about this subject it is always difficult to find one that covers it so comprehensively and especially as it is a truncated version of his two volume biography it certainly does not seem so.

    Excellent information on Hitler's early life and influences much of which I had not read about before all the way up to his last days in the bunker which is covered with good detail using sources close to the final days in the bunker.

    All in all a very good listen.

    Highly recommended.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rodney Florida 09-19-13
    Rodney Florida 09-19-13 Member Since 2010
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    "An Excellent Read"

    I've read a ton of WWII books so I wouldn't say there is much I learned from this book, but it is a great single volume collection and it's very readable. Another reviewer said that you needed to be a historian or something to read this, that is nonsense. While the book is long it moves at a a good pace and to me always remained interesting. I think the early years of any biography are the most difficult to keep interesting but again I think Kershaw did a good job of providing detail but not getting bogged down in detail. Everything is covered and at times I actually wish there was more detail if anything, not less. Again this is a 40-hour long book so there is a good amount of detail, but I never was bored by it.

    The reader does an excellent job throughout.

    Overall if you're of average intelligence and can stand the length this book will pose no challenges for you. Even though I knew almost everything that was about to happen I still found myself getting wrapped up in the story. This is a historical-biography written in an interesting manner, which is no easy feat. I highly recommend.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Curatina Moab 06-15-14
    Curatina Moab 06-15-14 Member Since 2004
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    "Excellent"

    This is an excellent biography of a difficult subject who still remains opaque when one tries to view him as a person. Perhaps that is the ultimate triumph of will.

    I have only two slight complaints. The first is my own lack of judgment. I chose to listen to this book instead of the several volume work in the interest if economy. I regret that decision because this version does seem a bit truncated and I fear I missed some details I would have liked. Perhaps this will only be a problem for those who have read extensively in this era if history. I do urge people who love indulging in the details of history to listen to the other books.

    The second is the narrarator who overall is excellent. He brutally mispronounces many German words. Naturally, being British, he does it with a savior faire that almost convinces one that he must be correct, but when he constantly says "Liebensraum" instead of "Lebensraum," my ears protest. Surely the producer of the audiobook should have noticed. This is not merely a mispronunciation but the substitution of one word for another and an entirely different concept!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alan Sunrise, FL, United States 08-13-13
    Alan Sunrise, FL, United States 08-13-13 Member Since 2010
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    "OMG it's 43 hours long"

    This thrilling work by Ian Kershaw is not for the casual reader. It's not even for the occasional history buff. It's for the serious student of history circa 1900 - 1945. You must be willing to literally devote 2 full days of your life to listening to this excellent work.

    Did I mention that it's 43 hours long.

    The biggest problem with this work is not the lack of editing, it's the author's use of run on sentences. I dont believe there is a single sentence in this book that is less then six words long. A single paragraph can literally take ten minutes.

    Putting the improper use of sentence structure aside, this is an excellent work about Hitler and his lfe. Keep in mind that this is a book about Hitler, and not about military strategy. This book deals with Hitler and the events around him as probably seen thru his eyes. This book deals a lot with Hitler's political reasoning such as his rationale for invading Russia and opening up a two front war. This book also investigates Hitler's opinions of other world leaders of the day and how these impressions ( whether right or wrong ) influenced his decisions. Hitler's hatred for the Jews is given a lot of coverage as a lot of his decisions were rooted in this hatred.

    This book is well worth the 1 credit to purchase. It is also well worth the time investment to listen to it.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeff Charlotte, N.C. 04-21-14
    Jeff Charlotte, N.C. 04-21-14 Member Since 2012
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    "For people who seek an in-depth look at the man"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Hitler to be better than the print version?

    Don't know, have not read the print version.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The specificity


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Spare me, in a history that covers fifty years?


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    No


    Any additional comments?

    For those history buffs who want a very close look at this brilliant lunatic. Hitler's triumph was based on virtually all of the pieces surrounding his life falling into place, and his manipulation of them once presented, in ways that defy one's imagination ... until the end of course. The author presents that history to the listener in ways that make the listen hard to turn off.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eric James Johnson Michigan, USA 12-11-13
    Eric James Johnson Michigan, USA 12-11-13 Member Since 2012
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    "A chore I leave unfinished"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    I cannot recommend this. What was one of the most dramatic, and controversial episodes of history is boring, negative, and tedious in this tome. In addition to a generally flat reading of text, the presentation is also marred by mispronounced German words, and at best secondary pronunciation of some English words. Perhaps if the story were better, these would be memorable eccentricities. Instead, they are distractions.Too many (hundreds ?) names are recited without further reference or development of who that person was, whence he came, why he is there, et cetera. The reader may as well have been reading the phone book. Dreadful.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    I don't know... My previous selections have been wonderful experiences. I hated for them to end, and was so eager to have another. This thing makes me entertain the notion of never again listening to another audio book.


    What aspect of Alan Robertson’s performance would you have changed?

    Pronunciation, and intonation. But the text is the real culprit.


    Was Hitler worth the listening time?

    No. We all know Hitler was a bad guy.. yeah, yeah, yeah. No new meaningful information is presented in this material... just additional, boring minutiae of calendars and guest lists. In contrast to Winston Churchill, and Thomas Jefferson, perhaps Hitler left behind too little information about himself. The book lacks an even-handed(!) examination of the ideas, and Zeitgeist that made the Third Reich possible. Hitler had a lot of support, and not just in Germany. What were the ideas that had broad international support? Instead we hear, as on the nightly TV news, that Hitler was a bad guy who thought only bad, and unjust thoughts. And, outside of a few 'close friends' whom we also know from public school history, nobody thought or believed such things. So simplistic-- 60 hours of it! Ugh.


    Any additional comments?

    Life is too short to waste your time on this.

    1 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeff Summertown, TN, United States 12-09-13
    Jeff Summertown, TN, United States 12-09-13 Member Since 2013
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    "Long winded, but complete"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Hitler to be better than the print version?

    43 hours...yes...43 hours. Took me 2 months of 30 minute commutes to finish this doozy. Was a good, detailed history of how Hitler came to power and how he really should have been the joke of town who died reading Soldier of Fortune magazine, while talking about what he 'should have done'.

    My biggest issue with the book is that you need to know some of the setup for Germany's government or you'll wonder what the auther is talking about. Google was my friend. Many central elements in the book (things like 'the reichstag', 'Wehrmacht' or even why they called it the 3rd Reich (what was a 'reich')) are never covered, so you're on your own to understand whats going on when you get to those parts.

    Overall, a good book. BIG (and trimmed from the first version), but worth the time. Just wish more time had been spent on the setup and less time repeating why he hated the Jews or that people were 'working toward the Fuhrer'.


    What three words best describe Alan Robertson’s voice?

    monotone


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    Hitler - Part VIII


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peter United States 11-14-13
    Peter United States 11-14-13 Member Since 2012
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    "not bad but no new insight on this evil man"
    Would you try another book from Ian Kershaw and/or Alan Robertson?

    yea but Ibut I would not go out of my way for one


    Would you ever listen to anything by Ian Kershaw again?

    Sure


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    he just did not add much to it


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    dissipointment where was all the new stuff instead we go through everything which had been stated a thousand times before


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kealani 04-02-14
    Kealani 04-02-14
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    "Language matters"
    What did you love best about Hitler?

    Depth of content, details and dates. It's all here.


    What other book might you compare Hitler to and why?

    While it compares to any extensively researched biography, "Hitler" cannot hide the writer's not uncommon bias against the dictator. The only biographies I've read with comparable distasteful of the subject were about Magda Goebbles or about Unity Valkyrie Mitford.


    What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

    Inexcusable error: the reader has a painful inability pronounce the German words. Understandably there are a lot of German nouns. This reader manages to butcher most especially frequently repeated nouns. I'm no stickler for German correctness, but I'm not deaf either - however I might wish to be in this case

    Compounding the trouble: in English the reader comes off as affected, pompous even. Helpfully, the sharp edge does dull a bit by part2.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Alas no, the reader made that impossible. Still I would love to read it all in one go.


    Any additional comments?

    Thanks for trying

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
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