The devil's disciples Hitler's inner circle

Anthony Read

Book - 2004

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New York : W. W. Norton & Company 2004.
1st American ed
Item Description
"Originally published in Great Britain under the title The Devil's disciples: the lives and times of Hitler's inner circle."
Physical Description
984 p. : ill
Includes bibliographical references and index.
Main Author
Anthony Read (-)
Review by Booklist Reviews

From the ample literature about Adolf Hitler's sycophants, Read synthesizes this hefty chronological narration of the most notorious half-dozen's competition for the dictator's favor. He expresses his repugnance for this crew of cretins and cynics but understands the great interest in their horrific career trajectory as they emerged from obscurity to warmongering, genocidal prominence. Read recounts how the economic and political crises of early 1920s Germany affected Hitler's future paladins, and their motivations in picking his Nazi party from the stew of right-wing organizations as the vehicle for their ambitions and the outlet for their hatred. Heinrich Himmler, Joseph Goebbels, Hermann Goring-- these principals as well as the second tier of the inner circle are all here, proving their usefulness to Hitler, murderously crushing opponents within and outside the Nazi party, engineering the Holocaust, and otherwise setting the world on fire. An able integration of extant material, Read's chronicle stands as a viable alternative to collecting it individually, or simply as an introduction to the gangsterlike personalities of the leading Nazis. ((Reviewed January 1 & 15, 2004)) Copyright 2004 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Choice Reviews

Too often, the history of Nazi Germany is an enlarged biography of Adolph Hitler. Read has written a brilliant study of those men who made it all possible by slavishly serving Hitler to the end of the Third Reich. These were his satraps, who engaged in bitter rivalries as they competed for Hitler's favors. Read focuses on the three most notorious members of Hitler's inner circle: Hermann Goering, Joseph Goebbels, and Heinrich Himmler. But all of the other servile flatterers are here: Rudolf Hess, Joachim von Ribbentropp, Alfred Rosenberg, Albert Speer, and others. This is a picture of the Third Reich at the highest level of intrigue and backbiting, as these and other Nazis plotted and schemed to win Hitler's approval and reach the top rung of the Nazi hierarchy, there to enjoy the power and prestige denied to ordinary German people. This powerful book depicts the intrigues and jealousies of those men who not only labored to help Hitler develop and maintain a terrible tyranny, but also aided him in his conquests. Indispensable for all collections of modern European history. Summing Up: Essential. All levels. Copyright 2004 American Library Association.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Nazism was a cult, and those closest to Hitler fought to be his anointed successor. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Over the last 60 years, thousands of books have been written on World War II, but few have been so well written and researched that they can change our very perspective of the war and the personalities involved in it. This is such a book. Read, the author or coauthor of over 20 books, including The Fall of Berlin, here examines the lives and motivations of each member of the Nazi power elite. He astutely portrays each of these powerful and power-hungry men (who include Hermann Göring, Heinrich Himmler, and Joseph Goebbels), showing us their relations with their families, their friends, Hitler, and one another. Read never lets Hitler overshadow his dissection of the rest of these flawed personalities; der Fuhrer is at once omnipresent and in the background, manipulating and "seducing." What results is a fresh depiction of the Nazi Party's rise to power. Read has humanized these deranged individuals and, in so doing, has laid bare their true evil. Dust off a spot on your shelf next to your copy of William Shirer's Rise and Fall of the Third Reich for this magnificent new work. Recommended for all academic and public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 11/15/03.]-Brian K. DeLuca, Avon Lake P.L. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

As the Gutterdammerung for Hitler's Germany approached in April 1945, the surviving members of the Fuhrer's inner circle of bureaucrats were still competing for his favor and conspiring, each in his own furtive way, to succeed him. Why anyone aspired to preside over the ruins is less a mystery after reading Read. From the unpromising beginnings of Nazism in the 1920s, ambitious misfits gathered around Hitler, whose demagogic genius in exploiting the humiliation of WWI's defeat seemed likely to propel him to power. Each was, in Read's words, "totally besotted" with Hitler and "bitterly jealous" of his attention to others. Not all survived the Darwinian struggle for favor and succession. Ernst Röhm was murdered by fellow Nazis. Rudolf Hess took a solo flight to captivity. Reinhard Heydrich was assassinated. But three of the original disciples-Hermann Gering, Joseph Goebbels, Heinrich Himmler-remained to the end, competing for power even when, with defeat imminent, the prize had lost all value. Four latecomers also hung on for dubious glory: the foreign minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop; chief architect and war production genius, Albert Speer; Hitler's private secretary, Martin Bormann; and Adm. Karl Denitz, whom no one expected to be anointed Hitler's successor. That the internecine rivalries persisted beyond the end suggests the warped minds of Hitler's crew of bureaucratic criminals. Despite his penchant for cliché ("the ripest of plums suddenly dropped into the Nazis' laps, completely out of the blue"), Read (coauthor of The Fall of Berlin, etc.) tells the story of two decades of assiduous jockeying for power in luridly absorbing if overwhelming detail. 16 pages of b&w photos. (Mar.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

A new take on the Third Reich explores the brutal struggles for power within the Nazi regime among Hitler's lieutenants--struggles that resulted in millions of deaths throughout Europe--charting the jealousies and insanity of Goebbels, Himmler, Goring, Bormann, Speer, and Ribbentrop. Reprint. 17,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

The Nazi regime was essentially a religious cult relying on the hypnotic personality of Adolf Hitler, and it was fated to die with him. But while it lasted, his closest lieutenants competed ferociously for power and position as his chosen successor. This peculiar leadership dynamic resulted in millions of deaths and some of the worst excesses of World War II. The Devil's Disciples is the first major book for a general readership to examine those lieutenants, not only as individuals but also as a group. It focuses on the three most important Nazi paladins—Göring, Goebbels, and Himmler—with their nearest rivals—Bormann, Speer, and Ribbentrop—in close attendance. Perceptive, illuminating, and grandly ambitious, The Devil's Disciples is above all a powerful chronological narrative, showing how the personalities of Hitler's inner circle developed and how their jealousies and constant intrigues affected the regime, the war, and Hitler himself.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

A fresh perspective on the Third Reich: the deadly contests among Hitler's lieutenants, and their disastrous consequences.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

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