Synopses & Reviews
A ruthless dictator who saved his country from economic ruin only to nearly destroy itand an entire peoplein his quest for world domination, Adolf Hitler forever changed the course of history. In this masterful account of Hitlers life, biographer A.N. Wilson pulls back the curtain to reveal the man behind the mythic figure, shedding new light on Hitlers personality, his desires, and his complex relationship with the German people.
While Hitler maintained that his life had been characterized by struggle” from its very beginnings, Wilson shows that the reality could not have been more different. Hitler grew up in middle-class comfort and, as a young man, lacked ambitions of any sort besides a vaguely bohemian desire to become an artist. And while the Hitlerian mythos holds that he forged his skills as a leader during the First World War, Wilson explains the truth: Hitler spent most of the war as an office boy miles from the front lines, and only received his cherished Iron Cross because of his slavishness to the officers he served. The army gave him a sense of purpose and brotherhood, however, which continued to inspire Hitler once the war ended.
Hitler left the army with no skills, contacts, or moneyand yet, within fourteen years, he would become chancellor of the German nation. Wilson describes the story of Hitlers ascent as one of both opportunism and sheer political shrewdness. He possessed no real understanding of the workings of government but had a prodigious knack for public speaking, and found that a large number of Germans, despairing at their countrys recent defeat and terrified by the specter of international communism, were willing to listen to the right-wing fantasies that had taken root inside his head. Allying himself with the extremist German Workers Party (soon renamed the National Socialist Party), Hitler offered many Germans a seductive vision of how the country might raise itself back up and reclaim its rightful place at the center of world politics.
Wilson shows that, although Hitlers bid for power stalled at first, he soon gained traction with a German public starved for hope. Using his skills as a manipulator, Hitler found himself first at the head of the Nazi Party, then at the helm of the German nation. Wilson explores the forces that allowed Hitler to become Chancellor of Germany, and later to march Germany into total war. He examines Hitlers increasingly virulent anti-Semitism and his decision to implement the Final Solution to exterminate European Jews, and he considers Hitlers tactical successesand failuresin World War II. Wilson also reveals a great deal about how Hitlers personal life affected his time as Germanys leader, from the lasting pain caused by the death of his mother and the suicide of his young niece to his poor health and addiction to the drugs prescribed by his doctor. As Wilson demonstrates, Hitler the Führer was not so different from Hitler the bohemian: lazy, moody, and hypersensitive, he ruled more through intimidation and the mystifying force of his personality than through any managerial skill or informed decision-making. His storyand that of Germanyis ultimately a cautionary tale. In a modern era enamored with progress, rationality, and modernity, it is often the darkest and most chaotic elements of society that prove the most seductive.
Hitlers unlikely rise to power and his uncanny ability to manipulate his fellow man resulted in the deaths of millions of Europeans and a horrific world war, yet despite his colossal role in world history, he remains mythologized and, as a result, misunderstood. In Hitler, A.N. Wilson limns this mysterious figure with great verve and acuity, showing that it was Hitlers frightening normalcynot some otherworldly evilnessthat makes him so truly terrifying.
"Adding to the enormous literature on Hitler, prolific British biographer and novelist Wilson (Dante in Love) focuses as much on the man and his relationships as on his actions and times, for instance, devoting as much attention to the FÃ¼hrer's friendship with British aristocrat Diana Mitford as to the 1935 Nuremberg Laws. Similarly, Wilson devotes more space to the years 1924 1929, when the Nazi Party was in eclipse, than to the WWII years. Wilson engages in some facile comparative history that lends a measure of ordinariness to Hitler. In one case, he makes the untenable statement that Hitler 'in his racial discrimination was simply being normal' this because the U.S. and Britain were 'racist through and through' and that Hitler 'was an embodiment, albeit an exaggerated embodiment, of the beliefs of the average modern person.' Wilson uses Hitler as an excuse for a backhanded slap at the Enlightenment the godless age that gave birth to the 'modern scientific' outlook that, Wilson believes, led in turn to Hitler. Given the monumental impact of Hitler on modern history, this far too short, superficial biography fails to measure up to its subject." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Distilling his own career-long study into a tight, rapid-fire volume that is both portrait and warning, Wilson delivers a statement on Hitler that is insightful.”
Wall Street Journal
. Noting how much Hitler depended on his speeches (even Mein Kampf was dictated), Mr. Wilson calls him the most hypnotic artist of post-literacy. Like todays radio talk-show entertainers, Hitler knew there was something about the spoken word that could galvanize millions. Rather than focus on Hitlers ideology, the biographer brilliantly singles out his subjects style of attack.”
[A] sharply focused capsule biography
. A portrait as disturbing as it is succinct.”
[Wilson] provides a useful, even entertaining, life of Hitler. He revisits the expected eventshis rise, his incarceration, Mein Kampf, his vicious henchman, his anti-Semitism, his enormous prewar popularity (not just in Germany), his poor military judgment, his women, his fall and deathand adds some nasty details (he couldnt control his farting; he was lazy and dressed oddly).”
This well-crafted book cuts to the chase and reveals surprising facts about one of the most reviled figures in history
. A fascinating book that underscores the fact that even in a modern era enamored with progress and rationality, the darkest elements of society can sometimes fester and become the most seductive.”
Wilson has opted for brevity and sharp metal, skewering and brilliantly dissecting Hitler bare in a book you can almost read in a sitting. Wilson cuts to the dark heart of the matter
. A stimulating triumph of the mind.”
The American Prospect
A.N. Wilsons biography provides a succinct, quick-reading introduction to Hitler that deftly manages the essentials, and, in its truly terrifying accomplishment, begins to bring the human being behind the monstrous Führer back to life.”
Mail on Sunday
[An] entertaining, short biography
. [Wilson] bring[s] a witty, novelists insight into what made Hitler tick. He seems to understand Hitlers character in a way many historians never could.”
Hitler is a slender but insightful volume about the evil instigator of World War II and the murderer of millions.”
Andrew Roberts, author of The Storm of War: A New History of the Second World War
In the best short biography of Adolf Hitler for three decades, A. N. Wilson goes straight to the essentials to explain what made the Fuhrer the phenomenon he was. His conclusions make fascinating, if occasionally uncomfortable, reading even two-thirds of a century after Hitlers death.”
Robert Gellately, author of Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler: The Age of Social Catastrophe
A. N. Wilson is a born biographer and has an eye for the telling detail. In a book written with verve, insight, and imagination, he gives us a fresh look at Hitler. The story he tells is bound to interest and surprise even those who think they already know and understand this most curious historical figure, one who against all odds rose to become leader of Germany and then promptly brought about the greatest catastrophe in European history."
From eminent biographer A.N. Wilson, an incisive, penetrating portrait of Adolf Hitler.
er's unlikely rise to power and his uncanny ability to manipulate his fellow man resulted in the deaths of millions of Europeans and a horrific world war, yet despite his colossal role in world history, he remains mythologized and, as a result, misunderstood. In Hitler, A.N. Wilson limns this mysterious figure with great verve and acuity, showing that it was Hitler's frightening normalcy--not some otherworldly evilness--that makes him so truly terrifying.
About the Author
A.N. Wilson is a renowned British journalist and author. He is the author of several acclaimed biographies, including Tolstoy, C.S. Lewis, Jesus, and Paul. He taught for seven years at Oxford before becoming a journalist. A frequent contributor to the Daily Mail, the Times Literary Supplement, New Statesman, The Spectator, and The Observer, Wilson lives in London.
Table of Contents
1. In that Hour it Began
2. Our Leader
3. 1921–1923 My Struggle
4. 1923–1929 The Politics of Catastrophe
5. 1929–1933 A Simple Cowherd can become a Cardinal
6. 1933–1936 Old Surehand
7. 1936–1939 The Road to War
8. 1939–1941 War Lord
9. The Final Solution
10. 1941–1945 Defeat
11. The Bunker
12. Final Verdict