• Adolf Hitler

  • By: John Toland
  • Narrated by: Ralph Cosham
  • Length: 44 hrs and 42 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (876 ratings)
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Adolf Hitler  By  cover art

Adolf Hitler

By: John Toland
Narrated by: Ralph Cosham
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Publisher's summary

Based on previously unpublished documents, diaries, notes, photographs, and dramatic interviews with Hitler's colleagues and associates, this is the definitive biography of one of the most despised yet fascinating figures of the 20th century. Painstakingly documented, it is a work that will not soon be forgotten.

©1976 John Toland (P)2014 Blackstone Audio

What listeners say about Adolf Hitler

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Strange Person

What can you say about a man who had this much impact on history? How could a person rise from such humble beginnings to mesmerize and captivate a nation, instilling god-like devotion in his followers and inspiring them to wage war on the rest of the world?

This book provides some of the answers, but the true inner Hitler will always remain something of a mystery. He had an unusual early life: He was born in Austria, not Germany. His father was illegitimate and his grandfather may have been Jewish, no one knows for sure. In early adulthood he aspired to be an artist, but he struggled greatly to make a successful career out of this. His failure resulted in him living, for a time, on the streets, in dire poverty. At this stage there were no obvious signs that he was a monster: He loved and cared greatly for his mother and was heartbroken when she died. Strangely, he greatly respected the Jewish doctor who treated her for cancer.

In World War One, he miraculously survived four years of trench warfare as a lowly corporal. Germany’s defeat was very painful for him, but he enjoyed and revelled in warfare more than any other activity. From this time onwards he was motivated by two main passions: the rise of Germany and the destruction of the Jews. In order to bring this about he needed to rise to power, and to acquire this power he used his extraordinary talent for oration. He was a brilliant speaker. Despite his unremarkable appearance and diminutive stature, he captivated his audiences wherever he went.

He used this talent to harness the German people's patriotism, their fear of communism and their anti-Semitism, persuading them to go to war to create a new German Empire. His method of waging war, ‘blitzkrieg’, was innovative and immensely successful. This military success continued for a while, but it nurtured an unrealistic optimism in Hitler. As the tide of war started to turn, when the USSR and USA joined the fight against Germany, he continued attacking, against overwhelming enemy forces, in the mistaken belief that he could repeat his early successes. This approach, which incurred massive loss of life, continued right to Hitler’s end. In his final few days, even as he could hear Russian artillery fire from his bunker in Berlin, he was ordering counterattacks in the deluded belief that the war could still be won. Finally, when he realized that the war was lost, he committed suicide to avoid the humiliation of capture by the Russians.

Why did he hate Jews and treat them so abominably? I didn't find an answer in this book. The Jews have been persecuted throughout history, so antipathy towards them is not particularly rare, but the extent of Hitler's hatred of the Jews and the appalling cruelty he perpetrated upon them was exceptional and truly shocking. Clearly, he used anti-Semitism as a means of motivating others to fight for his cause, but why he wanted to go as far as to commit genocide is unclear. There doesn't seem to have been an incident in his life where he was badly treated by Jews, so it is hard to identify how this came about.

Listening, for 44 hours, to the story of the rise and fall of Adolf Hitler was certainly interesting, although there are certain feelings of guilt and self-accusations of morbid fascination associated with it! I wasn’t able to completely solve the puzzle of what formed this man’s character and how he succeeded so spectacularly, but I did gain some valuable insights into his life and times. If you are interested in history, this book is definitely worth listening to.

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46 people found this helpful

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Absolutely fascinating, in depth and jarring.

Where does Adolf Hitler rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This is one of the best audio books I've listened to.

What other book might you compare Adolf Hitler to and why?

This is a brilliant companion piece to "A World Undone" by GJ Meyer [a chronicle of WWI] and "No Simple Victory" by Norman Davies [WWII] in that it gives you an in depth look at how the world got from the First World War to the Second and even supports the premise that both were actually parts of a single World War.

Which scene was your favorite?

Obviously well researched, one of the most jarring statements made in the book was that if Hitler had died in the mid 30s, he would most likely have been remembered as a truly great leader and savior of the German people.

Any additional comments?

Toland goes to great pains to avoid passing judgment on Hitler, Nazis, and so on. And to an astonishing degree, he is successful. The book is vivid, thorough, and detailed. And yet, somehow the 40-some hours have flown by.

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37 people found this helpful

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About as good as it gets.

As an old history major, I can appreciate how difficult and depressing a subject this is. Toland not only writes very well, interspersing the narrative with interesting quotes and anecdotes, but manages to write very objectively. He succeeds in giving an understanding of what happened and to an extent, why, leaving partisan rancor to others.

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11 people found this helpful

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The best Hitler biography out there

Hitler is a figure that is problematic for many historians, because it's not always easy to write about his life from an unbiased perspective. John Toland says in the introduction that he tried to write this book as if Hitler lived a thousand years ago, to try to remove bias as much as possible. I have to say that he largely succeeded.

No matter what your position towards the life and works of the great German dictator is, this book will provide lots of facts and obscure insights about the life of Hitler. There are details about his conversations with his intimate circles, his relationship with Eva Braun, his obsesive love for the German people, and above all, a very clear description of the thoughts and actions during the times before becoming chancellor, as well as his years as Führer and at the war that destroyed his dreams.

Even though there are small obligated mentions of the holocaust, the book is worth listening for all the other information it contains, it is both scholarly and very entertaining.

Ralph Cosham narrative is also superb.

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6 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Well read and interesting documentary

Performance was very good, and this documentary of a truly remarkable if not stilted man gives a fair reflection of how a strong enough personality can make and break a nation.

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Excellent

A very well thought out exposition of the private life of one of history's most loathed tyrants, presented in a calm, thoughtful tone that manages to convey Toland's (almost) perfect impartiality while still holding the interest of the reader. A fascinating listen.

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6 people found this helpful

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One of the most riveting biographies

This superbly written biography uses details the way an artist uses a brush to create a vivid image of Hitler and the reactions of those around him.

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5 people found this helpful

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  • Dr
  • 02-25-15

Good Read

An interesting and accurate account revealing some detail on lessor known events, interesting insight into Hitler's manner towards secretaries etc.

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5 people found this helpful

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snuffy narraror

just a horrible narrator. I ould not listen to more than one hour. shame.

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4 people found this helpful

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A close look at the most influential villain of modern history

This book explores the story of Adolf Hitler from his early years to his end, acknowledging his sins but not making him into a quasi-cartoon villain like some other books about him seem to love to do. Overall, this is a story of a man who let his anger and indignation take him down a dark path full of death and destruction. A difficult listen, but a necessary one if you want to know the man behind the hate.

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