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Publisher's Summary

Hitler’s rise to power, Germany’s march to the abyss, as seen through the eyes of Americans—diplomats, military, expats, visiting authors, Olympic athletes—who watched horrified and up close. By tapping a rich vein of personal testimonies, Hitlerland offers a gripping narrative full of surprising twists—and a startlingly fresh perspective on this heavily dissected era.

Some of the Americans in Weimar and then Hitler’s Germany were merely casual observers, others deliberately blind; a few were Nazi apologists. But most slowly began to understand the horror of what was unfolding, even when they found it difficult to grasp the breadth of the catastrophe. Among the journalists, William Shirer, Edgar Mowrer, and Dorothy Thompson were increasingly alarmed. Consul General George Messersmith stood out among the American diplomats because of his passion and courage. Truman Smith, the first American official to meet Hitler, was an astute political observer and a remarkably resourceful military attaché. Historian William Dodd, whom FDR tapped as ambassador in Hitler’s Berlin, left disillusioned; his daughter Martha scandalized the embassy with her procession of lovers from her initial infatuation with Nazis she took up with. She ended as a Soviet spy.

On the scene were George Kennan, who would become famous as the architect of containment; Richard Helms, who rose to the top of the CIA; Howard K. Smith, who would one day coanchor the ABC Evening News. The list of prominent visitors included writers Sinclair Lewis and Thomas Wolfe, famed aviator Charles Lindbergh, the great athlete Jesse Owens, newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst, and black sociologist and historian W.E.B. Dubois. Observing Hitler and his movement up close, the most perceptive of these Americans helped their reluctant countrymen begin to understand the nature of Nazi Germany as it ruthlessly eliminated political opponents, instilled hatred of Jews and anyone deemed a member of an inferior race, and readied its military and its people for a war for global domination. They helped prepare Americans for the years of struggle ahead.

©2012 Andrew Nagorski (P)2012 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"An engrossing study of the times made more fascinating and incredible in retrospect... contextually rich... [a] well marshaled study." (Kirkus)
"Andrew Nagorski, a deft storyteller, has plumbed the dispatches, diaries, letters, and interviews of American journalists, diplomats and others who were present in Berlin to write a fascinating account of a fateful era." (Henry Kissinger)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Story

Interesting book

Hitlerland is a collection of individual recollections and anecdotes about the period from 1930 through the start of US involvement in World War 2. While it is full of interesting information, and contains much that I never knew before about the period, it is worth mentioning that it is not a serious history of the period. Rather it centers on the observations of various observers, mostly reporters, about events during the period and how they reported the rise of the Nazis.

It is thoroughly enjoyable and I found myself reluctant to stop listening, but in the end left me feeling that there was not much real history in the book. If you would like an interesting "gossip" piece about the period, this is your book. If you are looking for something serious, you might want to look elsewhere.

I gave it 4 stars because I was expecting something "meatier" than this, but I would stress that it is very interesting and Robert Fass' reading is first class. I am not sure that the classification "light book" can be reasonably applied to anything written about this terrible period of history, but if it can, then this book is qualifies and is first class. I do not mean to suggest that this book treats the period lightly, but only that it is not a period history like Richard J Evans' The Third Reich In Power.

20 of 20 people found this review helpful

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A new perspective on the rise of the Third Reich

I am a fan of WWII history, but many books on the subject, particularly those that focus on the European theater, typically focus on the grand figures and political moments that lead to the "inevitable" outcome of the war.

This book is different. It tells the story of the inter-war Germany from the perspective of American ex-pats living there and witnessing the Nazi rise to power. You get to see the very flawed and human perspectives that shaped history as it happened.

I'd recommend the book to anyone with an interest in WWII and wants to understand what it was like to see the Nazi party take power.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Jumps Around a Fair Bit

Would you try another book from Andrew Nagorski and/or Robert Fass?

I would probably read the dead tree version rather than listen to it.

What did you like best about this story?

The most interesting aspect was the varied levels of support or opposition to Hitler and National Socialism with the stories told. The time was in the 1930's the stigma of being associated with fascists and communists was as (to me) fraught as after the war. You have to remember that the people's perspectives are always from not knowing what's coming next; while the informed listener always knows how the story ends. The opportunities for a different outcome abound.

What does Robert Fass bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

I think this type of non-fiction is a bit more difficult to follow than others. It's not an issue with the reader, rather the book itself perhaps does not lend itself to audio.

Could you see Hitlerland being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

A focused story of some of the involved parties could be very interesting, especially as a period piece (1920's to mid 1940's)

Any additional comments?

I enjoy this kind of content, the audio book format does not do it justice.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Don't let history repeat itself

Chaotic desperate times make us vulnerable to suggestions and pursuit of leaders that we would reject in normal times
This book is. A vivid reminder of how awful the consequences can be
Steven lamm md

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Mark
  • Madison, AL, United States
  • 03-18-13

Factual, Informative, and well performed

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Informative book from the perspective of intelligent and articulate eye witnesses. An excellent insight to the 3rd Reich. I've gone on to read the Rise and Fall of the 3rd Reich by one of the witnesses. Both highly recommended.<br/><br/>

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Just not that interesting

Very dry and the was it is told, boring. What sounded promising turned out to be disappointing

  • Overall
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Informative and fascinating! Great book!

Easy listen/read. Excellent research molded into an entertaining account of life in Hitlerland. Highly recommend.

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I liked it; you might not

Would you try another book from Andrew Nagorski and/or Robert Fass?

yes<br/>The book is very (almost nauseatingly) detailed. If you're not into trivia, avoid this.

What did you like best about this story?

the personal details of the main characters in the German journey, especially the Americans who were observers of "the rise and fall of the third reich." Much of it was not included in the Shirer book of that title.

Have you listened to any of Robert Fass’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

no

Do you think Hitlerland needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

no. he came, conquered, and died. that's all. thankfully.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Dinah
  • Chateaneuf-Grasse, France
  • 04-24-13

I thought this would be told as individual stories

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

History buffs who don't mind long narratives

What could Andrew Nagorski have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Tell "eyewitness" stories from the point of view of different actor eyewitnesses, not as a narrative.

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

This format doesn't lead to much more interpretation - one narrator telling stories in this way is just boring.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Hitlerland?

I couldn't get through more than 15 minutes of it. I thought the narrator was giving an introduction, then realized he speaks this way throughout the entire audiobook.

1 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Boring

What would have made Hitlerland better?

I found the entire narrative uninteresting, and the narrator's voice particularly hard to listen to.

Would you ever listen to anything by Andrew Nagorski again?

I doubt it.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Robert Fass?

I'm not sure.

Any additional comments?

My disappointment over this book was the main reason I discontinued my membership.

0 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Mr. Acapella
  • 09-29-14

Listen on ...

Fascinating insight into the terrible world of Nazi Germany, leavened with much in the way of personal experience and lucid description. Shirer's diaries are much quoted and if you want to learn more about this period, try his famous Berlin Diaries.