Synopses & Reviews
In Hitler and the Power of Aesthetics
, acclaimed historian Frederic Spotts presents a startling reassessment of Hitler's aims and motivations. Spotts, whose Bayreuth: A History of the Wagner Festival
received rave reviews on both sides of the ocean-The New York Times
said "Spotts is sane, trustworthy and continuously absorbing"-convincingly demonstrates that Hitler did not think of himself as a politician, but as an artist, and that he essentially bewitched the German public with his rhetoric, ceremonies, and rallies, instilling in them a sense of national pride and unity, as well as a fanatical devotion to himself. At the same time, Spotts argues, Hitler's obsession with the arts led him to impose his personal taste and standards on music, painting, architecture, and even stage design.
Unlike the traditional biographical view that Hitler was an "unperson," who had no life outside of politics, Spotts shows that Hitler's interest in the arts was as intense as his racism and his argument is punctuated with photographs and illustrations, including reproductions of Hitler's watercolors and drawings from his 1925 sketchbook. The book offers the first full analysis of Hitler's own work as a painter, as well as of his art collection. It also treats the entire range of his personal interests: from architecture, painting, symphony, opera, and sculpture, to the German autobahn system and the development of the Volkswagen.
A riveting and highly original work, Hitler and the Power of Aesthetics provides a key to an understanding of the Third Reich which has, until now, been missing from biographies and studies of the arts in the Third Reich, as well as from political and military studies of Hitler.
Featuring a new introduction by the author. A starling reassessment of Hitler's aims and motivations, Frederic Spotts' Hitler and the Power of Aesthetics is an adroitly argued and highly original work that provides a key to fuller understanding of the Third Reich. Spotts convincingly demonstrates that contrary to the traditional view that Hitler had no life outside of politics, Hitler's interest in the arts was as intense as his racism-and that he used the arts to disguise the heinous crimes that were the means to fulfilling his ends. Hitler's vision of the Aryan superstate was to be expressed as much in art as in politics: culture was not only the end to which power should aspire, but the means of achieving it. Filled with evocative photographs and reproductions from Hitler's 1925 sketchbook, "Spotts's study of the Fuhrer's fascination with architecture, painting, sculpture, and music is ...elegantly composed and richly documented" (The New Yorker).
Includes bibliographical references (p. -443) and index.
About the Author
Frederic Spotts has written four other books on European political and cultural affairs. His study of Bayreuth is acknowledged as the standard work on the subject. Hitler and the Power of Aesthetics was written while Spotts was a visiting scholar at the Institute for International Affairs at Berkeley.