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.
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!
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.
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.
Learn, understand, then decide whether you accept or reject.
I've been interested in reading an audiobook covering the life of Adolf Hitler, and stumbled across this book. While thorough, it seems to take the negative approach instead of leaving only the facts, using eye-rolling phrases like "crocodile tears" and "but of course, he was lying" (paraphrasing here).
If you're interested in listening to an audiobook about Hitler's life, buy the book by John Toland. It's much more subjective and spares you the reverse-propaganda.
For me to sit down and read the print version of this work would be impossible, listening for while driving to my various appointments made completing this work possible.
A masterful book. Beautiful reading voice, but ... couldn't the narrator have been taught proper German pronunciation? If one pronounces Lebensraum as Liebensraum it means "loving space", not "living space". Etcetera.
Great insight into the psychology of the Dictator and the behaviour of the German (and Austrian) people. Ian Kershaw manages to explain the unbelievable - Hitler's rise to power based on his ability to talk, as he himself said, and the Germans of all ranks who were eager to follow him and accept his ideas. In the last months of the war his delusions and disconnect from reality were even worse than I had thought previously. Without Hitler, the Germans would have won the war- but of course it would not have started in the first place.
Researched, Fluffed, Informative
Learning about his childhood was very interesting.
It was just ok. The sound editor made his inflections too powerful.
As a historian I wanted to learn more about Hitler. This book has a lot of good information about him but it does spend an awful amount of time on his subordinates. The book could be half as long if the author didn't have such an emphasis on that. But still pretty good.
I absolutely loved this book. The information was so extensive but easily comprehensible. My only wish was that the reader would have been better in German pronunciation but overall, he was outstanding. I would recommend this to anyone who has enough interest in WWII and/or nazism to devote 45 hours to the cause. Very informative.
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