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Publisher's Summary

Reinhard Heydrich is widely recognized as one of the great iconic villains of the 20th century, an appalling figure even within the context of the Nazi leadership. Chief of the Nazi Criminal Police, the SS Security Service, and the Gestapo, ruthless overlord of Nazi-occupied Bohemia and Moravia, and leading planner of the "Final Solution," Heydrich played a central role in Hitler's Germany. He shouldered a major share of responsibility for some of the worst Nazi atrocities, and up to his assassination in Prague in 1942, he was widely seen as one of the most dangerous men in Nazi Germany.

Yet Heydrich has received remarkably modest attention in the extensive literature of the Third Reich. Robert Gerwarth weaves together little-known stories of Heydrich's private life with his deeds as head of the Nazi Reich Security Main Office. Fully exploring Heydrich's progression from a privileged middle-class youth to a rapacious mass murderer, Gerwarth sheds new light on the complexity of Heydrich's adult character, his motivations, the incremental steps that led to unimaginable atrocities, and the consequences of his murderous efforts toward recreating the entire ethnic makeup of Europe.

©2011 Robert Gerwarth (P)2016 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"This admirable biography makes plausible what actually happened and makes human what we might prefer to dismiss as monstrous." ( The Wall Street Journal)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Book=Amazing. Reader=Comically Bad

The book exceeded my expectations, but I almost had to stop and read it the old school way, from ink on paper! The reader and the edits in the audio were so poorly done, it was distracting and was possibly a dis-service to the memory of many who died under this man's tyranny. The main characters name is inserted, in about half it's appearances, as an audio clip. So the name does not match the sound of the audio around it and whilst discussing the extermination of hundreds of thousands of innocent people, Heydricks last name pops up in the nararrators voice as if he were speaking of butterflies or flowers. I have never had this experience with an audio book before.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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A different perspective on the Third Reich

This is an important book for anyone interested in WWII. Robert Gerwarth is a master story-teller, skillfully documenting Heydrich's life and the influences on his development and thinking from his birth to his death. Having the lesser-known Nazi, Heydrich, as the central figure in the story brings a different perspective to this fateful era of modern history. The atrocities committed in the aftermath of Heydrich's death bring this necessarily grim book to its all-too-predictable terrible conclusion. To complement the master story-teller, Napoleon Ryan is the master narrator - perfect voice for the topic: accent, tone, pauses, voices spot-on, and he is proficient with German pronunciations (at least to my non-German ear). Few things ruin a good book so much as mangled attempts at foreign words.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Essential reading

Drawing on more recent scholarship than earlier accounts detailing the life and crimes of Reinhard Heydrich, this book is all the more terrifying a read. Heydrich has often been portrayed as arriving of arriving as Hitler's hang man fully formed. This excellent work shows the making of the monster, and should be read by anyone with a serious interest in where the very worst of Hitler's henchmen came from.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Pure evil

The book gives you a good look into the nazi death machine. The cold blooded way they decided who lived and who died like they were solving a business problem is just chilling. Heydrich was a true believer and encouraged his people to be just as radical as he was. The book also covers his assassination and the repercussions.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Even a twisted mind can justify murder.

A detailed account of Germany and lts implementation of the 'Final solution '. A lot of background information on the reasoning or need to eliminate the Jewish people.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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insight to an ss monster

a well thought out historical account; enjoyed the content and my first experience with the audible app and player- can no longer handle a 400 page read but the audio version put me back on track and allowed me to enjoy or rather appreciate a great non fiction masterpiece.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Excellent work

I found Gerwarths’ work to be thoroughly compelling, of historical importance, coupled with great narration

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very good book but kind of boring

this is nothing against the author but I just found this book kind of boring.

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Understanding the Hangman

Everyone knows that Reinhart Heydrich was an evil, sick man, but how he got that way is worth knowing. The author proposed looking at him differently, and accomplishes that goal, so that you learn how Heydrich became the twisted, brutal person he was at the time of his death. On the other hand, I had forgotten how "dramatic" Napoleon Ryan can be when doing "quotations" when he narrates, so that was the only drawback.

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Factually rich and objective

Heydrich, as a key part of the Nazi terror machine, seems to be surprisingly overlooked as a subject of popular research. This book is a wealth of factual information, although one might wish for a deeper character analysis. Heydrich strikes one as being profoundly cold, although he appeared to be devoted to his family. A look into this contrast would be welcome, although perhaps the material simply doesn't exist.

Regarding the narration...I died a little inside every time the narrator said the name Eichmann. Certainly, no one expects a narrator to be fluent in the language of a subject, but his pronunciation of key (and extremely well-known) names was very distracting, and I can't see a reason for a narrator not being able to learn the correct pronunciation. Additionally, pauses between new chapters were often negligible, and a moment to reflect and mentally close the chapter would have been welcome.

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  • john
  • 11-11-16

Trying subject matter

A difficult listen, very dark, but mesmerizing and full of detail.

However, the narration is superb.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Phillip Lawrence
  • 01-02-18

Interesting, but nothing new

Overall, this was an interesting listen
However, I felt the listen was off-putting due to the narration.
The narrator insisted on saying foreign words in an accent (mainly German), which only served to sound like a demented sat-Nav voice blurting out a word incorrectly. Also, when using a voice, it only served to come over more camp than C-3PO.
Truly, there was no need for these inflections and would have been a more enjoyable experience if they had been spoken without both of these ‘performance’ issues

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  • C. Hamilton-welsh
  • 08-26-17

overall good

interesting book but spoiled for me by what was either poor editing or very odd intersections of another voice - sometimes words were said by 2 narrators in the same sentence. not sure if I would try to listen again.

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  • Jo B
  • 04-20-17

Fascinating, You Won't Want to Stop

What made the experience of listening to Hitler's Hangman the most enjoyable?

Such a well read and written book, the narrator's voice is perfect for this history lesson which gripped me from page one. A mass of background information makes you learn so much about Heydrich whom I had barely heard of before. His upbringing, his teenage years, his life as a son, man, husband, father and killer. How did he turn into such a horrific monster, or was he always one? I will listen to this again, brilliant.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Hitler's Hangman?

Too many to mention

What does Napoleon Ryan bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

His lilt is perfect for the book, the prounounciation of the German, Czech, Polish and Russian words/names really made the whole read authentic. No American twang to desensitise or glamorise. I was really impressed.

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

Definitely

Any additional comments?

I'll be looking up some more Napoleon Ryan narrations and Robert Gewarth books!

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  • SLM
  • 04-20-17

Very interesting read well performed.

lots of detail in here and I liked the deatil regarding the actions within the protectorate which you don't hear of very often.

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  • AnnieG
  • 03-20-17

Startlingly Well Researched Definitive Biography

A startlingly well researched work which succeeds in painting a fully rounded portrait of Heydreich and allows the reader to grapple with the deeply human complexities of the man as opposed to painting him as a one dimensional caricature of history .
Possibly the definitive Biography of Heydreich .

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  • Charlie
  • 11-15-16

robot narrator

Great book but it sounds like it is being narrated by a computer. Fascinating insight into the workings of the third reich.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Stuart Sorensen
  • 01-13-18

Interesting account.

Gave more context to my ongoing study of modern neoNazism and its ideological heritage. can see many lesser understood parallels as well as the more obvious extermination of those of us who disagree fantasies. Know thy enemy! Understanding Nazi archetypes helps us understand the evils in modern ideologies of hatred and prejudice. Just swap the term 'Muslim' for 'Jew' & much modern, political rhetoric becomes eerily familiar!

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Clive
  • 04-12-17

Disappointed

i had expected more. Two main criticisms.

1. i never grasped from this how or even why this man turned inro such a inhumane killer by proxy. There was no real psychological assessment at all. Indeed this just seemed to be a horror chronology. Sometimes far too much time spent on tangents that did not seem necessary.

2. The narration is appalling. The over dramatic exaggeration of German names was so annoying i nearly gave up.

On the whole not an entirely successful biography.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Brenton
  • 04-08-17

A chilling insite into a ambitious monster

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

For those interested in this subject the book is very good

Who was your favorite character and why?

Heydrich given the book was about his life story

Which scene did you most enjoy?

The assassination scene when one of the assins gun jams while standing in front of the car

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Ambition by nature

Any additional comments?

No