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Hitler: A Life Reviews

Hitler: A Life by Peter Longerich (Former Professor of Modern German History, Royal Holloway, University of London)

Hitler: A Life

Peter Longerich (Former Professor of Modern German History, Royal Holloway, University of London)

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1 review

Imprint: Oxford University Press
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 23 Jul 2019
ISBN: 9780198796091

The story of how Adolf Hitler created his 'Fuhrer dictatorship' - consistently and ruthlessly destroying everything that stood in his way, and with with terrifying and almost limitless power over the German people.

4 stars out of 5
Brendan Simms
13 Jul 2019

"a fine-grained and generally very persuasive account of Hitler’s rise to power"

I am happy to say that Hitler: A Life is a very good book, fluently translated by Jeremy Noakes and Lesley Sharpe. It is comprehensive on the domestic side of the story, and draws on the newer literature of the past two decades. Longerich’s work is much more than just a synthesis, however, partly because he grounds his account in new material (printed and some archival), but mainly because his emphasis on Hitler’s centrality to the workings of the Third Reich runs contrary to the older “structuralist” view which saw him as more or less the prisoner of larger forces in German society. Longerich explicitly challenges the iconic two-volume biography by Ian Kershaw, which looked more to the character of Hitler’s power than the man himself. Instead, Longerich emphasizes “Hitler’s autonomous role as an active politician”.The result is a fine-grained and generally very persuasive account of Hitler’s rise to power, his rule within Germany, and especially the nature of his authority. Longerich spends relatively little time on Hitler’s early life, claiming that events before 1919 have little to say about his later trajectory. He does, however, skilfully cast Hitler as a “nobody” who emerged out of the maelstrom of early 20th-century Austro-German politics. Longerich then provides a good account of Hitler’s skill at playing his opponents off against each other in the late 1920s and early 1930s, but the bulk of the book is devoted to the period of the Third Reich itself.

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