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Publisher's Summary

No career in modern American letters is at once so brilliant, varied, and controversial as that of Norman Mailer. In a span of more than six decades, Mailer has delved into subjects ranging from World War II to Ancient Egypt, from the march on the Pentagon to Marilyn Monroe, from Henry Miller and Mohammad Ali to Jesus Christ. Now, in The Castle in the Forest, his first major work of fiction in more than a decade, Mailer offers what may be his consummate literary endeavor: he has set out to explore the evil of Adolf Hitler.

The narrator, a mysterious SS man who is later revealed to be an exceptional presence, follows the young Adolf from birth through his adolescence. En route, revealing portraits are offered of Hitler's father and mother, sisters, and brothers.

A tapestry of unforgettable characters, The Castle in the Forest delivers its myriad twists and surprises with astonishing insight into the nature of the struggle between good and evil that exists in us all. At its core is a hypothesis that is employed with stunning originality. Norman Mailer may well be saying more than he ever has before.

©2007 Norman Mailer. All rights reserved; (P)2007 Simon and Schuster Inc. All rights reserved.

Critic Reviews

"Mailer arrives at a somber, compelling portrait of a monstrous soul." (Publishers Weekly)
"This remarkable novel about the young Adolf Hitler, his family and their shifting circumstances, is Mailer's most perfect apprehension of the absolutely alien. No wonder it is narrated by a devil. Mailer doesn't inhabit these historical figures so much as possess them." (The New York Times Book Review)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall


I have always loved Norman Mailer from his first novel, The Naked and the Dead, up to and including his recent effort, The Castle in the Forest.

This forensic psychological portrait of Hitler is both deeply disturbing and highly compelling, and I find myself looking forward to a quiet moment of the day when I can sit back enjoy some time with Mailer's extraodinary prose.

I'm a big fan of the printed word and I never thought I would choose an audio book of Mailer's work to listen to. Some of his phrases are so delicious, I like to re-read and savor them again and again. Perhaps I will buy a copy of the book to keep, too, but the narrator's voice on this is so wonderful I almost forget where I am. It is deep and resonant with diabolical mockery: Just listen to his charcterization of Himmler if you want a few goosebumps with your prose.

All and all a wonderful audiobook on all accounts. Mailer is at the peak of his powers as a novelist and the choice of narrator is perfect. You absolutely must get this!

12 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Chris
  • Woodland Hills, CA, United States
  • 02-09-07

Worthy of Mailer

I was at first unimpressed and felt that the device of devils and angels was a bit clunky, but Mailer won me over. I find it, as I near the end, to be a very powerful work. The prose, at first, seem weak by Mailer's normal standards--the tone has hints of a mid-twentieth century English translation of Thomas Mann. I realized a quarter of the way through that this was certainly a choice. And a good one. The cumulative effects of the prose were stunning. As is the portrait of humanity that emerges. And the portrait of Hitler! To see and begin to comprehend the forces that molded so awful, so powerful an individual is a bit of insight that I truly appreciate. My big fear--since this clearly a first volume to a much larger work--is that Mailer will not be able to finish it, and leave us with another unfinished half masterpiece, which of course should be renamed "Hitler's Ghost."

The reader is top notch, and has a tone akin to Mailer?s, making it very pleasing to listen to.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • BKK
  • Marietta, GA USA
  • 02-04-07

Great one

This is one of the book you would like if you have read Mailer's other books like The Naked And The Dead, The Armies of The Night, The Executioner's Song, Miami and the Siege of Chicago, Advertisements For Myself and etc.

Taking a cue from CS Lewis, a Devil who works for Satan narrates the early days of the Hitler. A lot is told about Alois' Hitler and his background.

This book is a mixture brilliance, excitement and sometimes dullness. I consider this book a great listen.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • stephen
  • muncie, IN, United States
  • 02-03-07

Skip This Silliness

One of the Devil’s agents narrates this rambling and irrelevant look at the formative years of Hitler. The most insightful and interesting story element deals with beekeeping. Maybe that says it all. It is just plain goofy.

I kept hoping this iconic author would redeem himself along the way. But, as the story plodded along, it became apparent that this work was the rambling of an artist whose time has past him by. The only reason this manuscript got published was the name Mailer was typed on the first page.

I would say the ending was a disappointment; however, it was a welcome relief.

6 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Laughably Amateur Narrator, At Best

I like Mailer, I've read The Executioners Song, Harlots Ghost, and The Naked and the Dead, but I had no chance to see if I liked this story because the narrator was AWFUL. He reminds me of the not so good volunteer readers on the Librivox app. I yelled at this book at least 20x before I gave up. It's already a difficult subject, and the story is frankly perverse and scatological (I have no problem w that) so in a truly gifted narrators hands, this story might have come across as an oddly whimsical and enjoyable dark fairytale. It was certainly interesting, but his flatness, his lack of inflection, and pathetic attempts at character voices were too distracting. Will not finish, though I may pick up the actual book. Not recommended if you care about narration.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Interesting Premis

A strange book to be sure, but interesting if not a little disturbing for my taste.
All I kept thinking was off all the times when the course of history could have been altered for the better had Hitler's childhood / Education gone another way or had he not survived at all. I found the most interesting part was his chapter on Czar Nicholas II.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Charles
  • Pleasant Grove, UT, United States
  • 02-25-07

Mailer's Swan Song

Let us at least hope this is his swan song(think Sebelius' "Swan of Tuonela" floating down the river to death!). I am sure Mr. Mailer realizes that much of his book is vulgar, venal and scatological. The sexual perversity and explicit speech about all bodily functions not only gets old FAST but clearly over states the Freudian trip through all the stages of humanity's dark sides which is so de regeur in our universities these days especially if it also pays obeisance to queer theory. I lasted down to final 2 hours where a vulgar homosexual/pedophlic scene so churned my stomach that I didn't care anymore where the book was going nor what Mailer in Deiter's pedagogy( the devil who is the narrative voice) was so fatuously attempting to illustrate. Gunter Grass(porno-Grass) move over- literature has a new baD boy/expositor of Vapid vulgarity making Grass' work seem like a child's simple storybook. AH! But I forgot- Mailer has a humpbacked person in his story too! Shame on you Mr. Mailer for plagiarizing another great writer's icon in the name of how depraved Nazi Germany became. Or as another demon with erudite slyness gave away yet another secret if their ilk: our best work is done when we can get a man to sit in a cold room starring at a dead fire!

8 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Overall


I was very disappointed in this book. I started the book hoping to gain another perspective about the most evil person in history. Instead, the book was written from the standpoint of a devil. To explain Hitler's behavior that "the devil made him do it" is an insult to the six million Jews he murdered, not to mention homosexuals and mentally challenged people whom he and his cronies tortured and killed. Additionally, I felt the book dragged. The focus was on Hitler's father and little about the young Hitler's makeup.

0 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Charles
  • Fremont, CA, United States
  • 01-22-10

Pure DRECK!! Should be ZERO stars!

Here is a letter I just wrote to Audible:
I want my CREDIT back!!!
I bought this book thinking it was a legitimate historical novel. It turns out it is a FANTASY! The "narrator," who is purported to be an SS officer, turns out to be a minon of SATAN, not just metaphorically but a real honest-to-God (no pun) agent of THE devil! Normal Mailer must have been going SENILE when he wrote this piece of dreck! Introducing an agent of Satan as being the reason for the monster that was Adolf Hitler is a COP-OUT and seems to falsely mitigate the true, very human, HORROR that was the man (not a "Rosemary's baby") and those who did his work. I want this piece of literary dung flushed out of my library, I assure you I'll be deleting it from my computer, and I want my credit BACK!!

1 of 11 people found this review helpful