Hitler

A. N. Wilson, 1950-

Book - 2012

Narrates the dictator's rise and fall, describing how by the force of his personality, political fanaticism, and superior abilities as an orator he became the leader of Germany and led his country into the devastation of World War II.

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BIOGRAPHY/Hitler, Adolf
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Subjects
Published
New York : Basic Books c2012.
Language
English
Physical Description
215 p. ; 22 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references (p. 197-200) and index.
ISBN
9780465031283
0465031285
Main Author
A. N. Wilson, 1950- (-)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Why did Hitler threaten to commit suicide in January 1936 but not carry out his threat? Wilson's sharply focused capsule biography allows readers to see the 1936 suicide threat as just one of the pivot points in the transformation of an aimless idler with mesmerizing rhetorical talents into a demonic dictator. Wilson particularly highlights those pivot points at which Western leaders could have blocked the megalomaniac's ascent and so saved millions of lives, including those of the Jews he openly promised to annihilate. Of course, at his final pivot point, in the Berlin bunker, Hitler must make suicide more than an empty threat. But Wilson will not allow his readers to take this final pivot point as a reason for complacency. In his conclusion, he provocatively raises the possibility of a twenty-first-century Hitler by emphasizing the persistence of cultural impulses that the German monster affirmed, impulses such as those elevating science over religion while eliminating restrictions on abortion and euthanasia. A portrait as disturbing as it is succinct. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Is a new Hitler biography necessary? This short volume's "Select Bibliography"—listing 17 earlier biographies—would suggest not. Even the half-awake history student has absorbed at least the outline of this tale: failed art student and layabout becomes the 20th century's "ultimate horror-tyrant," as Wilson puts it. Wilson (Tolstoy: A Biography), a journalist and prolific biographer and novelist, has erected a bare scaffolding of the much-considered life of this "Demon King of history" in order to offer some incisive judgments. For instance, he argues that Hitler and Goebbels each derived from their Catholic upbringing a "system of control" on which the entire Nazi edifice was modeled. Atop this scaffolding sits a provocative final chapter in which Wilson confronts readers with the notion that Hitler might not have been such an utter anomaly. Hitler, Wilson says, "believed himself to be enlightened and forward-looking, non-smoking, vegetarian, opposed to hunting, in favor of abortion and euthanasia." Sound like anyone you know? VERDICT Wilson does not uncover new facts about Hitler's life. He provides instead a brisk overview capped by a "Final Verdict," the title of his unsettling last chapter—one that may raise discussion among its readers.—Sebastian Stockman, Emerson Coll., Boston, MA [Page 83]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

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 Führer'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. (Apr.) [Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Narrates the dictator's rise and fall, describing how by the force of his personality, political fanaticism, and superior abilities as an orator he became the leader of Germany and led his country into the devastation of World War II.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

An incisive portrait of the notorious German dictator reveals disturbingly normal personality traits behind his mythologized character, discussing how he was an emotional, romantic individual whose manipulative talents enabled him to exploit the fears and desperation of his fellow countrymen. By the Whitbread Biography Award-winning author of Jesus. 15,500 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

British journalist, novelist, and biographer Wilson offers a brief, but thought-provoking biography of the phenomenon that was Adolf Hitler. Describing Hitler as both very ordinary and completely extraordinary should provide a clue to how the author's book differs from the many, many books written about Hitler, his motivations, and his world view. As he has done before with other subjects, Wilson's biography will surely raise eyebrows. While Hitler is justifiably considered a monster, the author contends that what made him so horrifying was his ordinariness. Annotation ©2012 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Review by Publisher Summary 4

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.

Review by Publisher Summary 5

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.

Review by Publisher Summary 6

From eminent biographer A.N. Wilson, an incisive, penetrating portrait of Adolf Hitler.