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Hitler

A Global Biography
Narrated by: Leighton Pugh
Length: 29 hrs and 17 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (8 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

From a prize-winning historian, the definitive biography of Adolph Hitler

Hitler offers a deeply learned and radically revisionist biography, arguing that the dictator's main strategic enemy, from the start of his political career in the 1920s, was not communism or the Soviet Union, but capitalism and the United States. Whereas most historians have argued that Hitler underestimated the American threat, Simms shows that Hitler embarked on a preemptive war with the United States precisely because he considered it such a potent adversary. The war against the Jews was driven both by his anxiety about combating the supposed forces of international plutocracy and by a broader desire to maintain the domestic cohesion he thought necessary for survival on the international scene.

A powerfully argued and utterly definitive account of a murderous tyrant we thought we understood, Hitler is essential listening for anyone seeking to understand the origins and outcomes of the Second World War.

©2019 Brendan Simms (P)2019 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"Brendan Simms has a bold hypothesis - that it was Hitler's fixation on the United States and Great Britain, and his fear of German decay and degeneracy that drove his strategic thinking and behavior, and he argues it with exceptional eloquence and force. This fascinating book will force us to rethink the strategy of the Second World War in a way that none other has in more than a generation." (Eliot Cohen, Robert E. Osgood Professor of Strategic Studies at the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University)

"[Simms] builds on previous scholarship to make a bold thesis-that Hitler's principal obsession was not communism but rather 'Anglo-America' and global capitalism...A vigorous, original study that adds to the ongoing scholarship." (Kirkus)

"A pathbreaking and elegantly written account of Hitler and his foreign policy that is rooted in the existing literature but goes beyond it to make new claims. Simms marshals considerable evidence to show that Hitler was more preoccupied with a worldwide struggle with America and Britain then he was by Jews and Bolshevism. His claims of Aryan racial superiority masked concerns about German inferiority; he hoped to improve the 'racial stock' by positive as well as negative eugenics. Simms rejects revisionist claims that see Hitler's foreign policy as constrained or compelled by German society and institutions. A must read for anyone interested in the Third Reich and the long shadow it cast over the 20th century." (Richard Ned Lebow, professor of War Studies, King's College London)

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A good biography with a different viewpoint

An interesting contrarian biography of Hitler. A good read, but not for those without a prior background in the subject. This is a political biography and not in any way an account of his personal life.

In the beginning the author outlines three points he intends to develop:

1. “Hitler’s principal preoccupation throughout his career was Anglo-America and global capitalism, rather than the Soviet Union and Bolshevism”
2. “Hitler’s view of the German Volk–even when purged of Jews and other ‘undesirables’–was highly ambivalent, reflecting a sense of inferiority by comparison with the ‘Anglo-Saxons”
3. “we have–for very understandable reasons–focused too much on Hitler’s murderous ‘negative eugenics’ against the Jews and other ‘undesirables’ and not enough on what he regarded as his ‘positive eugenics’, which were designed to ‘elevate’ the German people to the level of their British and American rivals."

The second and third points are used mainly to support the first.

Most biographies of Hitler have looked east to the Soviet Union and focused on his obsession with “Jewish Bolshevism” as the primary driver of his beliefs and actions. This biography looks west and presents Hitler’s perception of Anglo-America, global capitalism and the generations of German immigrants that made such a vital contribution to America (to the detriment of Germany) as the primary driver of his beliefs and actions.

The author brings to light a great deal of important information either neglected or omitted in other works on Hitler. There is a wealth of new material here that is critical in understanding Hitler and how the evil he unleashed developed. But in swinging the pendulum west, the author neglects the role the Soviet Union and communism played in Hitler’s thinking and planning. What is needed here is also needed in other biographies – a balance that looks both east and west for an explanation of Hitler. This in no way diminishes the important information the author presents. But the reader should be aware that both east and west were significant factors in Hitler’s thinking and planning and that there is more to the story than what is presented here (or in any other single biography). This focus west sometimes leads to some distortions (my opinion) regarding the weight the author places on Anglo American actions and the effect they had on the Nazi war effort (such as the impact of bombing and the campaign in North Africa) as compared with Soviet actions.

The original research the author did on the development of Hitler’s thinking from 1919 – 1925 is very impressive. He makes an attempt at finding a unifying thread in Hitler’s thinking / philosophy and gets off to a good start here. But at some point (probably around 1925) Hitler’s thinking is consumed by the pursuit of power and his “philosophy” becomes whatever fits a particular time and circumstance. What he says depends almost entirely on his audience and his intentions at that moment and can and often is completely disconnected from what has come before or will come after.

The author avoids rewriting much that has already been written exhaustively about Hitler. The use of Rosenberg’s writings is interesting (and a welcome relief from the same quotations from Goebbels). This is not just another rewriting of his life using the same information, same evidence, same stories. This will make the book very interesting for people who have already read much about Hitler. But on the opposite side, this is not an ideal book for someone who has not read other biographies of Hitler (Ian Kershaw’s “Hitler” is a much better starting point). The lack of information about the impact Albert Speer had on Hitler’s understanding of the United States is disappointing given Speer’s role in industrial reorganization / management. The same could be said of Joseph Goebbels’ role in the tension between those that looked east and those that looked west for a solution to the post 1941 failing war effort.

The reader should have some knowledge of the Third Reich and the Holocaust before reading this work (Richard Evan’s “The Third Reich in Power” and Henry Friedlander’s “The Origins of Nazi Genocide” are excellent). This is not a history of the Third Reich, the Holocaust or World War II – it is a political biography of Hitler. Since the author brings to light much about Hitler’s thinking regarding the United States and Britain, the reader should consider "The Rise and Fall of the British Empire" by Lawrence James, “The American West and the Nazi East” by Carol Kakel and “Hitler's Ostkrieg and the Indian Wars" by Edward B. Westermann as excellent companions for this book. "Hitler's 'National Community': Society and Culture in Nazi Germany" by Lisa Pine would also be excellent to read with / after this biography.

Overall a good biography, definitely one with a different viewpoint. It has flaws like all biographies, but the different viewpoint makes it a worthwhile read with an important perspective.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful