Goebbels A biography

Peter Longerich

Book - 2015

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BIOGRAPHY/Goebbels, Joseph
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New York : Random House [2015]
First edition
Item Description
"Originally published in Germany by Siedler Verlag in 2010" -- title page verso
Physical Description
xix, 964 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Includes bibliographical references and index.
Main Author
Peter Longerich (-)
Other Authors
Alan Bance (translator), Jeremy Noakes, Lesley Sharpe, 1952-
Review by Booklist Reviews

With his complete control of the mass media, Joseph Goebbels was arguably the second most powerful man in the Third Reich. Unlike some of the other figures near the top of the Nazi pyramid, he remained sincerely and irrevocably devoted both to Hitler and to the ideology of National Socialism. Longerich's biography of Goebbels, who was derided by many as the "malignant dwarf," is massive, ambitious, and often fascinating. Perhaps due to struggles with his deformed foot and other physical ailments, Goebbels, in Longerich's view, was a classic narcissistic personality who constantly sought affirmation by winning the approval of others, which could explain both his devotion to Hitler as well as his constant efforts to bed a variety of women. As Longerich acknowledges, his reliance on Goebbels' diaries as a primary source is problematic, since Goebbels' accounts of events and personalities seem designed to impress himself. Still Longerich's efforts to glean the truth from exaggerations and distortions are credible, and this is an outstanding contribution to our understanding of the Nazi regime. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Professor of Modern German History at Royal Holloway University of London, Longerich draws on Goebbels's diaries (while looking behind the self-propaganda of Hitler's minister of propaganda) to reveal a self-centered and manipulative fawner who helped bring death to millions because he craved approval. [Page 57]. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Historian Longerich (history, Univ. of London; Holocaust) takes advantage of rarely utilized diaries and other sources to painstakingly document the life of Adolf Hitler's propaganda master and perhaps most loyal subordinate. The book balances its examination of Joseph Goebbels's professional and private life and proposes that his narcissism and obsession with recognition did not stem from his disability or relatively poor upbringing. The author instead argues that it was his inability to develop a sense of independence that led to a life of rabid loyalty to his dictator. Longerich expertly demonstrates how a petty mentality combined with brilliant powers of manipulation resulted in the development of a propaganda master capable of enthralling Germany into joining the Nazi movement, dehumanizing targets of the Holocaust, and sacrificing their very lives (he also gave his own) to the führer he worshiped. This work is, by far, the most complete treatment of its subject to date and is likely to remain so for a long time. Goebbels (1897–1945) was a contemptible man in both personality and deed, and while his life never inspires true pity, Longerich does an excellent job of describing a man always doggedly pursuing the approval of someone; whether his mother, a girlfriend, the German populace, or Hitler. VERDICT Highly recommended for German, Holocaust, and World War II historians and readers, biography lovers, and those interested in marketing and propaganda history. [See Prepub Alert, 4/7/14.]—Benjamin Brudner, Curry Coll. Lib., Milton, MA [Page 113]. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Longerich (The Unwritten Order), a historian of modern Germany at Royal Holloway University of London, explores in depth three aspects of the career and life of the Third Reich's infamous minister of propaganda: "his development from a failed writer and intellectual to a Nazi agitator"; his "efforts... to introduce uniformity into the media, cultural life, and the public sphere"; and his "role as a wartime propagandist and advocate of ‘total war.'?" He labels Goebbels a narcissist, an "ice-cold evil genius" who uncritically idolized Hitler for embodying the "German soul." The book's greatest strength—and greatest weakness—lies in Longerich's deep explorations of the most intimate and specific aspects of Goebbels's personal life. Readers get a clear window on his perspective, but a broader context is often lacking. Some sections are packed with excessive description, though when Longerich writes of Goebbels's attempts in 1945 to maintain popular morale—even as a German defeat in WWII grew imminent—he lacks solid details on the state of the population's collective consciousness. Longerich is a master of portraying the Nazi leadership and its infighting, if not a particularly colorful writer. This biography is now the definitive work on Goebbels in English, and will be of major interest to scholars and serious students of the Third Reich. (May) [Page ]. Copyright 2014 PWxyz LLC

Review by Publisher Summary 1

"As a young man, Joseph Goebbels was a budding narcissist with constant need of approval. Through political involvement, he found personal affirmation within the German National Socialist Party. In this comprehensive volume, Peter Longerich documents Goebbels' descent into antisemitism and ideology and ascent through the ranks of the Nazi party, where he became an integral member Hitler's inner circle and where he shaped a brutal campaign of Nazi propaganda. In life and in his grisly family suicide, Goebbels was one of Hitler's most loyal accolytes. Though powerful in the party and in wartime Germany, Longerich's Goebbels is a man dogged by insecurities and consumed by his fierce adherence to the Nazi cause. Longerich engages and challenges the careful self-portrait that Goebbels left behind in his diaries, and, as he delves deep into the mind of Hitler's master propagandist, Longerich discovers first-hand how the Nazi message was conceived. This complete portrait of the man behind the message is sure tobecome a standard for historians and students of the holocaust for years to come"--

Review by Publisher Summary 2

The renowned historian presents a comprehensive portrait of Hitler's Minister of Propaganda to discuss his narcissistic personality issues, descent into anti-Semitism, and pivotal role in advancing Nazi agendas.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

The renowned historian and author of The Unwritten Order presents a comprehensive portrait of Hitler's Minister of Propaganda to discuss his narcissist personality issues, descent into anti-Semitism and pivotal role in advancing Nazi agendas. 20,000 first printing. Illustrations.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE TELEGRAPH ' From renowned German Holocaust historian Peter Longerich comes the definitive one-volume biography of Adolf Hitler's malevolent minister of propaganda. In life, and in the grisly manner of his death, Joseph Goebbels was one of Adolf Hitler's most loyal acolytes. By the end, no one in the Berlin bunker was closer to the Führer than his devoted Reich minister for public enlightenment and propaganda. But how did this clubfooted son of a factory worker rise from obscurity to become Hitler's most trusted lieutenant and personally anointed successor? In this ground-breaking biography, Peter Longerich sifts through the historical record'and thirty thousand pages of Goebbels's own diary entries'to provide the answer to that question. Longerich, the first historian to make use of the Goebbels diaries in a biographical work, engages and challenges the self-serving portrait the propaganda chief left behind. Spanning thirty years, the diaries paint a chilling picture of a man driven by a narcissistic desire for recognition who found the personal affirmation he craved within the virulently racist National Socialist movement. Delving into the mind of his subject, Longerich reveals how Goebbels's lifelong search for a charismatic father figure inexorably led him to Hitler, to whom he ascribed almost godlike powers. This comprehensive biography documents Goebbels's ascent through the ranks of the Nazi Party, where he became a member of the Führer's inner circle and launched a brutal campaign of anti-Semitic propaganda. Though endowed with near-dictatorial control of the media'film, radio, press, and the fine arts'Longerich's Goebbels is a man dogged by insecurities and beset by bureaucratic infighting. He feuds with his bitter rivals Hermann Göring and Alfred Rosenberg, unsuccessfully advocates for a more radical line of 'total war," and is thwarted in his attempt to pursue a separate peace with the Allies during the waning days of World War II. This book also reveals, as never before, Goebbels's twisted personal life'his mawkish sentimentality, manipulative nature, and voracious sexual appetite. A harrowing look at the life of one of history's greatest monsters, Goebbels delivers fresh insight into how the Nazi message of hate was conceived, nurtured, and disseminated. This complete portrait of the man behind that message is sure to become a standard for historians and students of the Holocaust for decades to come.Praise for Goebbels 'Peter Longerich . . . has delved into rarely accessed material from his subject's diaries, which span thirty years, to paint a remarkable portrait of the man who became one of Hitler's most trusted lieutenants.''The Daily TelegraphPraise for Heinrich Himmler 'there have been several studies of this enigmatic man, but Peter Longerich's massive biography, grounded in exhaustive study of the primary sources, is now the standard work and must stand alongside Ian Kershaw's Hitler, Ulrich Herbert's Best and Robert Gerwarth's Hitler's Hangman: The Life of Heydrich as one of the landmark Nazi biographies. As the author of a celebrated study of the Holocaust, Longerich is better able than his predecessors to situate Himmler within the vast machinery of genocide. And he brings to his task a gift for capturing those mannerisms that are the intimate markers of personality.''London Review of Books '[An] excellent and comprehensive biography.''The New York Review of Books