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Pulitzer Prize-winning historian John Toland’s classic, definitive biography of Adolf Hitler remains the most thorough, readable, accessible, and, as much as possible, objective account of the life of a man whose evil affect on the world in the twentieth century will always be felt. Toland’s research provided one of the final opportunities for a historian to conduct persona Pulitzer Prize-winning historian John Toland’s classic, definitive biography of Adolf Hitler remains the most thorough, readable, accessible, and, as much as possible, objective account of the life of a man whose evil affect on the world in the twentieth century will always be felt. Toland’s research provided one of the final opportunities for a historian to conduct personal interviews with over two hundred individuals intimately associated with Hitler. At a certain distance yet still with access to many of the people who enabled and who opposed the führer and his Third Reich, Toland strove to treat this life as if Hitler lived and died a hundred years before instead of within his own memory. From childhood and obscurity to his desperate end, Adolf Hitler emerges , in Toland’s words, "far more complex and contradictory . . . obsessed by his dream of cleansing Europe Jews . . . a hybrid of Prometheus and Lucifer."


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Pulitzer Prize-winning historian John Toland’s classic, definitive biography of Adolf Hitler remains the most thorough, readable, accessible, and, as much as possible, objective account of the life of a man whose evil affect on the world in the twentieth century will always be felt. Toland’s research provided one of the final opportunities for a historian to conduct persona Pulitzer Prize-winning historian John Toland’s classic, definitive biography of Adolf Hitler remains the most thorough, readable, accessible, and, as much as possible, objective account of the life of a man whose evil affect on the world in the twentieth century will always be felt. Toland’s research provided one of the final opportunities for a historian to conduct personal interviews with over two hundred individuals intimately associated with Hitler. At a certain distance yet still with access to many of the people who enabled and who opposed the führer and his Third Reich, Toland strove to treat this life as if Hitler lived and died a hundred years before instead of within his own memory. From childhood and obscurity to his desperate end, Adolf Hitler emerges , in Toland’s words, "far more complex and contradictory . . . obsessed by his dream of cleansing Europe Jews . . . a hybrid of Prometheus and Lucifer."

30 review for Adolf Hitler: The Definitive Biography

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    At 1,035 pages, they weren't screwing around when they decided to call this book "the definitive biography." I can pretty much tell you what Hitler ate for breakfast everyday between 1933 and 1945 (for instance, on April 30th, 1945 he ate a bullet). A few months back, I picked up a biography of Diana Mitford, wife of Sir Oswald Mosley, the leader of the British Union of Fascists, and close friend of Adolf Hitler. In its entirety, the book was relatively dull, but I was captivated by Mitford's cha At 1,035 pages, they weren't screwing around when they decided to call this book "the definitive biography." I can pretty much tell you what Hitler ate for breakfast everyday between 1933 and 1945 (for instance, on April 30th, 1945 he ate a bullet). A few months back, I picked up a biography of Diana Mitford, wife of Sir Oswald Mosley, the leader of the British Union of Fascists, and close friend of Adolf Hitler. In its entirety, the book was relatively dull, but I was captivated by Mitford's characterization of Hitler as a brilliant thinker, an enthusiastic leader, and (perhaps most unsettling of all) a compassionate and generous friend. It occurred to me that I had never considered Hitler from any other perspective than the one offered in grammar school textbooks. It was startling to think of him as a living, breathing human being - one who takes tea and see films with friends. I decided then to read the longest and most comprehensive biography of him that I could get my hands on. Enter John Toland and this behemoth of a book. I wanted to comb through Hitler's experiences and find out what made him into such a horror of a human being. And also, I wanted to know how he managed to persuade an entire nation to turn a blind eye (or worse) to one of the most horrific atrocities perpetrated in recent history. This book is amazing. There is literally not a single dull page among all 1,035. Though I was unable to identify anything particularly extraordinary in Hitler's early life that would explain his monstrous behavior later on, I came away with a better understanding of the many forces that combined to contribute to this train wreck of a period in German history.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Paul Bryant

    (updated with further nasty comment) Hitler was the world's greatest motivational speaker. You go to one of his meetings and he gives you astonishing dreams, and he gives you permissions. Next day, you see an old Jew in the street. Last week, you wanted to give him a kick. Today, you actually do that, right there, and he falls over. But a policeman was watching you the whole time. Sheiss! Now you're in for it. You look up from the Jew and meet his eyes. He laughs briefly and shrugs, and walks on. (updated with further nasty comment) Hitler was the world's greatest motivational speaker. You go to one of his meetings and he gives you astonishing dreams, and he gives you permissions. Next day, you see an old Jew in the street. Last week, you wanted to give him a kick. Today, you actually do that, right there, and he falls over. But a policeman was watching you the whole time. Sheiss! Now you're in for it. You look up from the Jew and meet his eyes. He laughs briefly and shrugs, and walks on. He was at the meeting too. ********* Some times when I listen the Bob Dylan I think - Hitler would have had you killed if he had half a chance. Along with Leonard Cohen, Paul Simon, George and Ira Gershwin, Philip Roth, Lou Reed, Mark Rothko - you could name dozens more - every one would have been shipped off to the nearest extermination centre. Himmler would have seen to it in his meticulous way. Their hatred was limitless. ********* And just a quick something about this great book - it rang my head like a bell many years ago. You know where they say "it was a biography but I was turning the pages like it was a thriller"? This is the one that does that.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lewis Weinstein

    This is one of the very best accounts of the Nazi period. I have now read the sections covering 1932-33 which tell the story of Hitler's rise to the Chancellorship, including who helped him and why. This is one of the very best accounts of the Nazi period. I have now read the sections covering 1932-33 which tell the story of Hitler's rise to the Chancellorship, including who helped him and why.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mikey B.

    Page 306 (my book) Heinrich Heine, a Jew, [wrote a century before Hitler’s ascension to power in 1933]: “German thunder is truly German; it takes its time. But it will come, and when it crashes it will crash as nothing in history crashed before. The hour will come… A drama will be performed which will make the French Revolution seem like a pretty idyll… Never doubt it; the hour will come.” This is, at close to 1,000 pages, a thorough examination of the life of Adolf Hitler. It depicts him as a hum Page 306 (my book) Heinrich Heine, a Jew, [wrote a century before Hitler’s ascension to power in 1933]: “German thunder is truly German; it takes its time. But it will come, and when it crashes it will crash as nothing in history crashed before. The hour will come… A drama will be performed which will make the French Revolution seem like a pretty idyll… Never doubt it; the hour will come.” This is, at close to 1,000 pages, a thorough examination of the life of Adolf Hitler. It depicts him as a human being, not as a monster or crazy or a lunatic. Hitler did interact normally (albeit at times domineeringly) with those in his social circle. He was a master manipulator and knew how to use people. Several interesting aspects of his life are high-lighted in this book. During his years in Vienna, prior to the outbreak of World War I, Hitler as a rootless, and at times homeless person, started to discover his “gift of speech”. He would often engage in arguments and hold himself well with the group of men who gathered round him in the various shelters where he was living. Page 75 by 1918 Hitler was far from the dreamy eyed volunteer of 1914. Four years in the trenches had given him a sense of belonging along with a degree of self-confidence. Having fought for Germany, he was truly German; … he had pride in his manhood. He had entered the army a raw youth, remarkably underdeveloped for all his twenty-four years and hardships in Vienna. After 1918 Hitler became an obsessive anti-Semite. Prior, like many Europeans, he had a “normal” anti-Semitic attitude. His speeches became laden with a virulent exterminationist anti-Semitism. His hate and virulence became primarily focused on the Jewish people. So, in the 1920’s his speeches clearly pointed in the direction that he was to take. He also stoked the fear of Communism in his speeches and the decadence of democracy – and in both of these he blamed Jewish leadership. He used a nativist pull on the German people (volk). He could be many things to many different groups of people – workers, business leaders, religious people were all magnetized by Hitler. Women especially were drawn to him. His rallies were like the rock shows of our current era – with music, light shows and then a mesmerizing speech by the Fuhrer. Page 146 Hitler skillfully appealed to primitive emotions and when audiences left meetings they remembered few details, only that they must join Hitler’s crusade to save Germany. He became adulated – a Messiah to the German people. His speeches and rallies had strong religious overtones with the swastika being prominent. The author points out that the swastika flag was a counterpoint to the hammer and sickle communist flag. The Nazis used pageantry to pull in their worshippers. It was like a mass cult. Hitler built up his leadership. He killed Rohm (the leader of the storm troopers) and others to consolidate his position. Page 110 For centuries [the swastika] had represented not only for Europeans but also for certain North American Indian tribes the wheel of the sun or the cycle of life. From now on, and perhaps forevermore, the swastika would have a sinister connotation. All in the Party in the 1920s had to pledge allegiance to Hitler. By the 1930s that would extend to all of Germany – more so to the Army (the Wehrmacht). Hitler had an on and off again sexual relationship with Eva Braun beginning in the 1930’s. By the time the war started she would have an apartment or a room adjacent to him. Of course, due to the war Hitler was often absent. When Hitler attained power in 1933 he would mask his speeches – more so because now he was being followed by the international press. His priority was to rebuild the German Army. Page 329 July, 1933 Germany was controlled by a single party and that party was controlled by a single man. Page 409 1936, the military march into the Rhineland [Hitler] had learned that his own political instincts were sounder than those of his generals. It was a victory of far-reaching import, reinforcing faith in his own destiny. Page 409 by 1936 No head of state in the world enjoyed such popularity. He had manoeuvred his country in little more than three years from supplicant to challenger. Everything in the German state became geared to the goals of Hitler – the army, business and industry, the schools. “Hitler is the nation” (page 526). Because of his early victories in the occupation of the Rhineland, the Anschluss of Austria, and his “negotiated” takeover of Czechoslovakia Hitler came to believe in his infallibility. But Czechoslovakia was his first mistake; he underestimated the limits of the democracies (England and France). By breaking his Munich deal when invading the remainder of Czechoslovakia in early 1939 he had burnt his bridges – and this led to the declaration of war when Germany invaded Poland. The authors’ analysis of the Nazi-Soviet pact of August 1939 is spot-on. Page 638 One of the most important treaties (Nazi-Soviet pact] in world history had been completed and signed without argument in a few hours, proof that both Hitler and Stalin wanted agreement, that both knew exactly what they would give to get what they wanted. This belief in his infallibility led to massive problems when the war tides changed at the end of 1942. Hitler never relinquished his aura of dominance and became increasingly surrounded by sycophants. The author also discusses the Final Solution and leaves no doubt that Hitler was fully aware and in agreement of what occurred. Hitler often avoided written documents of his most important decisions. The author also makes it evident that the main purpose of Hitler’s war was to eliminate European Jewry – plus others that were in the way of German dominance like Poles, Slavs, Russians, and Gypsies. The German people were to occupy the lands forcibly vacated; this had already started in Poland. An interesting quote that Hitler used prior to his invasion of the Soviet Union is an apt warning to all invaders. Page 774 “At the beginning of each campaign one pushes a door into a dark unseen room. One can never know what is hiding inside.” Page 821 September 1942 General Warlimont “The man’s confidence has gone with the realization that the Soviets cannot be beaten,” generals had witnessed “his faults, his errors, his illusions and his daydreams.” But one could add that these Generals did not have the courage to contradict the man. Such was his hold over them. This is an immense work on the man who changed the course of the twentieth century.

  5. 5 out of 5

    David A

    “Adolf Hitler” (Ballantine Books, 1st September 1986 edition) by John Toland is probably my favourite history biography. It is a masterful detailed and absorbing account of the life of the most evil figure of modern world history. I read it 25 years ago when I was a 14 year old school boy, having been given an assignment to do for history class. When I came across it in our school library, and I spent the next few weeks reading it. Every spare minute I got I dived back in and was engrossed until “Adolf Hitler” (Ballantine Books, 1st September 1986 edition) by John Toland is probably my favourite history biography. It is a masterful detailed and absorbing account of the life of the most evil figure of modern world history. I read it 25 years ago when I was a 14 year old school boy, having been given an assignment to do for history class. When I came across it in our school library, and I spent the next few weeks reading it. Every spare minute I got I dived back in and was engrossed until I was finished. I got the Wordsworh Military Library edition of it a few years ago, but I was delighted to have found a Ballantine edition in a book shop. Toland perfectly sets out his subject dealing with his boyhood including how his name was actually Schicklgruber. His aimless wanderings in his 20’s are also clearly dealt with. Perhaps the book really takes off for me though when we enter the era of the First World War, and the treatment of Germany at Versailles following Germany's surrender which to me seems the lynchpin Hitler’s life turned on. Toland clearly sets out the how hitler established his gang of thugs, the taking over of a sideline political party, the fashioning of that party into a well oiled political machine and the eventual establishing of total power with the death of President von Hindenberg. As we know Hitler’s regime was premised on ‘Lebensraum’ for the German “Übermensch” and the smashing of the Jewish race in Europe whom he believed were responsible for all Germany’s woes. What I particularly liked about this book is the fact that Toland was in a position to seek out and interview the surviving members of Hitler’s regime to conduct research for the book. This adds something later authors were unable to achieve, first hand recollections and memories of their part in his regime. The thing I find astounding about Hitler is how he could hijack an intelligent industrious nation and dupe them down the path to total destruction. How one man could bring a nation to near total annihilation by the force of his oratory and political thinking has fascinated me. How Hitler commanded such blind and total obedience, especially from the Army has been long since a question I still fail to answer with adequate satisfaction. All in all Toland’s book is quite simply a brilliant book, and true to his form is written in the narrative style without comment or criticism, so what you get is the actual story of Hitler's life minus an analyses which can distract. Other works adequately provide analyses, but to get to know the subject, this book is the real deal. You will see traces of Toland in most works on Hitler which have followed since. Couldn’t recommend highly enough.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Erik Graff

    My first substantial adult reading experience at age ten was Shirer's Rise & Fall of the Third Reich. Dad had served in both theatres--indeed, almost everyone's father had served in WWII or Korea in our government-assisted community in Lake County, Illinois. The War, wars in general, were very much on my mind, on our minds, during childhoods endured through the centennial years of our own civil war. The Cold War was of primary concern. Like everyone else, I feared the Russians and Chinese. Then, My first substantial adult reading experience at age ten was Shirer's Rise & Fall of the Third Reich. Dad had served in both theatres--indeed, almost everyone's father had served in WWII or Korea in our government-assisted community in Lake County, Illinois. The War, wars in general, were very much on my mind, on our minds, during childhoods endured through the centennial years of our own civil war. The Cold War was of primary concern. Like everyone else, I feared the Russians and Chinese. Then, as I learned more, I feared the Koreans, the Czechs, the E. Germans, the Rumanians, the Poles, the Albanians, the Estonians, the Latvians, the Lithuanians, the Cubans, the Yugoslavs, the Bulgarians, the Mongolians, the Hungarians and the Vietnamese--especially the nefarious Viet Cong and their subversive ilk throughout the poorer countries of the world. That's what school taught, what the papers reported, what tv showed. Stalin, Mao and Hitler, Nazism and Communism, were virtually as one to my mind--all dictators, all war-mongers. I fully expected I'd have to fight like Dad had--and I was frightened at the prospect. I suffered this terrible ambivalence of fascinated fear throughout primary school. One of my first research projects in high school was a paper on the war in Vietnam. I read several books, mostly accounts by US soldiers who had served there. All were very much pro-war, anti-insurgency. Then, one night at the grandparents, I got into a discussion about the topic with Dad and his mother's husband, Christian Stousland. They were very much opposed to the war. A know-it-all, I argued manfully with them for hours, learning in the process that there was quite a lot I didn't know. That night I went home and read and thought. I remembered the Life Magazine account of the recent US invasion of the Dominican Republic. There there had seemed to be some ambiguity, some suggestion that maybe we'd supported military dictators against the people. Could this be so? The more I looked into such matters, the more I doubted previous certainties. High School history classes and membership in the school's Social Science Club did the rest of the job. By junior year I was torn between Trotsky and Gandhi, Communism and pacifism, and believed virtually nothing reported in the mainstream press or by the president about American foreign policy intentions. Hitler's Germany returned to mind in this context. Could there be some similarity to the Germans' democratic acquiescence to Hitler's policies and our own democratic endorsements of foreign aggression? I began, again, fitfully, to study the history of WWII and the politics behind it. A subtheme of this study has been to understand the minds of people like Hitler or Theodore Roosevelt who had come to power as advocates of aggressive violence. Toland's biography of Hitler was a good start as regards the former since it is a thorough, but popular, survey of the man's thought and actions.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Thar Lun Myat

    This book was about a life of a stubborn and cruel man, Adolf Hitler. He started to make his dreams come true. He made the most destructive war in history all because Germany lost one war before he became the fuhrer.

  8. 5 out of 5

    David

    Even at 1,000+ pages, this book was not a complete biography of Hitler. Superb research and extensive documentation was presented, detailing the events of his life and some of his compatriots, but in the end, I still did not understand the man, nor grasp how he was understood and admired by so many who followed him and believed in his vision. Hitler obviously had a gift of oratory, but there is little offered here to help understand how that worked. He displayed at least two other character trait Even at 1,000+ pages, this book was not a complete biography of Hitler. Superb research and extensive documentation was presented, detailing the events of his life and some of his compatriots, but in the end, I still did not understand the man, nor grasp how he was understood and admired by so many who followed him and believed in his vision. Hitler obviously had a gift of oratory, but there is little offered here to help understand how that worked. He displayed at least two other character traits typical of strong leaders, but traits that I see—and I think research is beginning to bear out—as deep flaws. One is supreme confidence in one’s intuition and the other is ruthless perseverance. These qualities in the extreme can indeed lead to success, but at a price of the soul. Toland did manage to show some of the grey area in the man who would be Fehr. Hitler’s persona is typically portrayed in the post-war modern world as one of all black. He is analogous with evil. When we want to thoroughly demonize anyone, we compare them to Hitler. It is too easy to fall into this binary mindset, and lose sight of the subtleties of any person, and with it a realistic perspective. Toland did express this when he cited Graham Greene’s observation that “the greatest saints” were “men with more than a normal capacity for evil,” and the most vicious men have sometimes narrowly evaded sanctity. Make no mistake about it, Hitler was an epic mass murderer. But as Toland points out, had he died at the age of 50, after ten years in power but before the invasion of Poland, he would today be regarded as one of the greatest leader in German history, if not the world. He was, in fact, a tremendous success, coming out of relative obscurity, having spent time as a political prisoner, and then rising to the most powerful position of exalted leader, with social and economic programs that were enormously popular. His anti-Semitism probably would have been little noticed by history or been explained away, as we do with the slaveholding practices of the founding fathers of America. One need not even go back that far to discover our own sins, and Toland claims that Hitler did so as well. “Hilter’s concept of concentration camps, as well as the practicality of genocide, owed much, so he claimed, to his studies of English and United States history. He admired the Camps for Boar prisoners in South Africa and for the wild Indians in the South West, and often praised to his inner circle the efficiency of America’s extermination—by starvation and uneven combat—of the red savages who could not be tamed by captivity.” In 1890, when Hitler was a one-year-old, the US Calvary systematically massacred men, women, and children at Wounded Knee, winding up an era of nationally sponsored genocide against Native Americans and a massive land-grab. They called it “manifest destiny”; Hitler called his land quest “lebensraum” (living space). While Hitler was instigating an anti-sematic policy in Germany, African-Americans in the United State were systematically and shamelessly oppressed, lynched, and subjected to Jim Crow laws and slavery by another name. Many Americans, like many Germans, didn’t pay attention nor show sympathy for the oppressed. But a dictatorship is not a democracy. There is a difference between Hitler’s Final Solution and American racism, but mostly in terms of magnitude, in ruthless perseverance. Hitler was, initially, massively successful in his program of ethnic cleansing. But, ultimately, he failed in a way that would have horrified him, had he lived to see the outcome, with the establishment of a powerful Jewish state and the spread of communism beyond what would probably have been possible without his declaration of war on the Soviets and their march into Eastern Europe. But I’m still left with the haunting unanswered question. How did he do it?

  9. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    Although it's not perfect, I've rated this book five stars because it has served so long as my "go-to" reference on Hitler. Toland avoids a lot of the mistakes of popular treatments of Hitler’s life by being very careful about his sources, and making use of (and cross-referencing) interviews with surviving witnesses on a large scale. Particularly in terms of reconstructing Hitler’s early life, he presents a far more convincing narrative than Alan Bullock had, although of course the uncertainty o Although it's not perfect, I've rated this book five stars because it has served so long as my "go-to" reference on Hitler. Toland avoids a lot of the mistakes of popular treatments of Hitler’s life by being very careful about his sources, and making use of (and cross-referencing) interviews with surviving witnesses on a large scale. Particularly in terms of reconstructing Hitler’s early life, he presents a far more convincing narrative than Alan Bullock had, although of course the uncertainty of sources from this period always leaves questions open. At times, he does take Mein Kampf at its word, when of course much of that autobiography was written for propaganda purposes, but at least he avoids doing so when there are sources that contradict Hitler’s story. Although it is quite long (over 1000 pages), the book is written in an engaging style with many vignettes and anecdotes that make it more accessible as a narrative. Certain stories, such as the tragic tale of the little dog “Fuchsl” who was Hitler’s pet in the trenches of World War I, have stayed with me over the years and colored my understanding of history. It includes many still photographs that give insight into the people and events in different stages of Hitler’s life, and of course tells the story of World War II and the Holocaust, both of which are points of major interest to non-professional historians. The details of the mass exterminations were (and are) still under constant scrutiny and so precise information will need to come from other sources, but Toland does exceed Bullock in this and other areas, simply by virtue of making better use of the sources available at the time and ignoring more questionable sources. With a bit more distance from the events, a better biography was probably inevitable. It was now possible to be a bit more objective, with the war firmly in the past and the din of war propaganda (from both sides) out of the researcher’s ears, but this book also has the benefit of being written while many participants, victims, and witnesses were still living, and Toland made excellent use of his opportunities. It is not a comprehensive history of the Third Reich, much less fascism, and its brief section on international imitators of Hitler is most unsatisfying, but that is not the purpose of the book. It remains a very good treatment of its subject, although of course the serious researcher will want to become familiar with the newest interpretations of the evidence and not rely overly on a book nearly forty years old.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Dpwarzyn

    Dismissed by some historians, Toland produces here the most objective biography of Hitler imaginable. Rooted on the solid ground of interviews with former Nazis living in hiding and unaccessible to other historians, makes a case for sour grapes. Further, most people are very comfortable condemning Hitler as the devil, or some such reincarnation. However, if you want to meet the man, experience what he experienced, see him as he saw himself, then this is the book for you. Toland employs a device Dismissed by some historians, Toland produces here the most objective biography of Hitler imaginable. Rooted on the solid ground of interviews with former Nazis living in hiding and unaccessible to other historians, makes a case for sour grapes. Further, most people are very comfortable condemning Hitler as the devil, or some such reincarnation. However, if you want to meet the man, experience what he experienced, see him as he saw himself, then this is the book for you. Toland employs a device where he allows his subjects to edit his writing based on their interviews--also unorthodox. What results is a purity that just rings true. There are some show stopping revelations in this book, but it is not for the feint of heart.

  11. 5 out of 5

    AviP_C2

    I really loved this book and really visualized the lives of these poor Jews who had to go through this time. The Book Adolf Hitler by John Toland is a biography on Adolf Hitler's life. The book started when Hitler was born to a crowd of anti-Semitism believers. He thought being anti-Semitist was right and Hitler thought it was normal to hate Jewish people. This biography really opened my eyes up to the fact that the world is filled up with a bunch of crooks who believe in even more crooked thing I really loved this book and really visualized the lives of these poor Jews who had to go through this time. The Book Adolf Hitler by John Toland is a biography on Adolf Hitler's life. The book started when Hitler was born to a crowd of anti-Semitism believers. He thought being anti-Semitist was right and Hitler thought it was normal to hate Jewish people. This biography really opened my eyes up to the fact that the world is filled up with a bunch of crooks who believe in even more crooked things. As I went along the book sadness came into my eyes, because it explained how he threw the Jews into a concentration camp, and just left them for the end. I really loved the story of his life It widened my thinking of what's out there in the world.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Arminius

    I can not believe that there is a better book available that covers the second most written about man in human history –Adolph Hitler. His chronicled life shows not only his evil prejudices but also his normal side. Toland gives plausible reasons for Hitler’s anti-Semitism. He exposes lies spread about Hitler such as his refusal to shake Jesse Owens hand after Owens’ Olympic victory. Very good and surprisingly funny anecdotes are incorporated such as Hitler’s crazy cousin spreading pamphlets cla I can not believe that there is a better book available that covers the second most written about man in human history –Adolph Hitler. His chronicled life shows not only his evil prejudices but also his normal side. Toland gives plausible reasons for Hitler’s anti-Semitism. He exposes lies spread about Hitler such as his refusal to shake Jesse Owens hand after Owens’ Olympic victory. Very good and surprisingly funny anecdotes are incorporated such as Hitler’s crazy cousin spreading pamphlets claiming Hitler was part Jewish. It is a brilliantly researched book.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    If you ever wanted to read 900 pages about one of the most evil, if not the most evil person ever to live, this is the book for you. This book goes into painstaking detail about the lives of his parents and grandparents, his childhood, young adulthood as a struggling artist and in the German army, and his rise in the National Socialist (Nazi) party in Germany, and how he began to amass control of Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, etc. What I liked about this book is that it is so incredi If you ever wanted to read 900 pages about one of the most evil, if not the most evil person ever to live, this is the book for you. This book goes into painstaking detail about the lives of his parents and grandparents, his childhood, young adulthood as a struggling artist and in the German army, and his rise in the National Socialist (Nazi) party in Germany, and how he began to amass control of Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, etc. What I liked about this book is that it is so incredibly thorough. It explains exactly how people suspect he might have been of some Jewish descent. It tells about his days of homeless wandering and exactly how he fell in with (and became the leader of) the National Socialist movement. It details how he was able to annex Austria and Czechoslovakia so easily in those early days of the war and how his bad decisions regarding invading Russia turned the tide for him. What is also amazing about this book is it, in all fairness, showed a different side of Hitler. He sincerely cared about the German people, the workers and the men in his army. When the people and the army had to sacrifice because of the war, he insisted that his generals and he himself sacrifice, too. He encouraged beautification initiatives in places like factories because he wanted the workers to have a pleasant place to work. Of course, he did not care about all German citizens, only the Aryan ones. The book stayed mostly with Hitler's day to day life and did not focus on the atrocities of the Holocaust. The few mentions of the concentration camp conditions were enough to remind you of their horrors (and will bring tears to your eyes).

  14. 4 out of 5

    Işıl

    Truly remarkable. I'd been hard-pressed to find a decent fair biography of this enigmatic man called Adolf Hitler. Without reading them I'd compared dozens of biographies, asking people's opinions, combing through book reviews so as not to experience a disappointment since virtually every biography of Hitler is not less than 700 pages and usually has the word "evil" in its title (which is straight out bias). So this one by Toland has considerably met my expectations.There is no finger pointing o Truly remarkable. I'd been hard-pressed to find a decent fair biography of this enigmatic man called Adolf Hitler. Without reading them I'd compared dozens of biographies, asking people's opinions, combing through book reviews so as not to experience a disappointment since virtually every biography of Hitler is not less than 700 pages and usually has the word "evil" in its title (which is straight out bias). So this one by Toland has considerably met my expectations.There is no finger pointing or hauling the blame only on Adolf Hitler since there had been a great deal of shameless appeasement on Britain's part once everything got a little tense, as well as the protectionist pacifist policies of the U.S. You also get to see the adverse shift in Hitler's war policy beginning from 1940 with reasonable explanations so it's not like the guy was plain crazy, though he merely pushed every country in his way to the limit - There is great gratification on my part for having found the book which many may consider the "real deal."

  15. 5 out of 5

    P

    I listened to this tome as an audiobook (44H 43M worth) narrated by Ralph Cosham. If you're looking for an objective, non-maniacal chronical of the life of Adolph Hitler, this is it. Toland tells this tale without attempting to editorialize about his subject - he presents an accurate depiction of the facts and events about Hitler from his youth all the way to his final ignominious demise, and lets the reader (listener) draw the obvious conclusions. If you like history without a bent toward revis I listened to this tome as an audiobook (44H 43M worth) narrated by Ralph Cosham. If you're looking for an objective, non-maniacal chronical of the life of Adolph Hitler, this is it. Toland tells this tale without attempting to editorialize about his subject - he presents an accurate depiction of the facts and events about Hitler from his youth all the way to his final ignominious demise, and lets the reader (listener) draw the obvious conclusions. If you like history without a bent toward revisionism, this might be just the thing. It was for me. And as I've mentioned before, Ralph Cosham is a superb narrator. Simply superb.

  16. 5 out of 5

    David Applegate

    Hitler was not just the world's greatest motivational speaker, he was confident, dedicated and calculated. Yet for all his charm, ability and intellect he choose to waste it on revenge over the first world war. The book is a powerful lesson in unchecked power and might give some insight how he came to power and why no authority should be absolute. Hitler was not just the world's greatest motivational speaker, he was confident, dedicated and calculated. Yet for all his charm, ability and intellect he choose to waste it on revenge over the first world war. The book is a powerful lesson in unchecked power and might give some insight how he came to power and why no authority should be absolute.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Richard Fulgham

    I believe you trust Toland. I checked out his sources. He seems to be truthful. Fascinating book! Good read.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Yong Lee

    A monumental masterpiece. I'm sorry I waited so long to read it. A monumental masterpiece. I'm sorry I waited so long to read it.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Telcontar

    There are any number of serious, well researched Hitler bios in print, and there are several that are middling or downright awful. This is the third full length bio of Hitler that I've tackled, and I find it the most appealing, the others being Bullock's Study In Tyranny and Kershaw's two volume Hitler. Bullock's is a bit dated now, I think, and he did not have the depth of current research now available on the Third Reich, while Kershaw's, while excellent in many respects, is for me too narrowl There are any number of serious, well researched Hitler bios in print, and there are several that are middling or downright awful. This is the third full length bio of Hitler that I've tackled, and I find it the most appealing, the others being Bullock's Study In Tyranny and Kershaw's two volume Hitler. Bullock's is a bit dated now, I think, and he did not have the depth of current research now available on the Third Reich, while Kershaw's, while excellent in many respects, is for me too narrowly focused, especially once the war starts. Both Bullock and Kershaw give too much play to the election cycle in 1932-1933 that eventually put Hitler in the driver's seat, and Bullock is too cursory with Hitler's childhood and WW1 experiences. Many might say Toland went too far to make Hitler a person, rather than retaining him as monster and 20th century ultimate villain, but I find that view distasteful. Put the emotions aside and treat him as an historical figure and a human, and you can study his life in a little more neutral frame of mind. You won't be able to completely shed your distaste for the man, the myth or the legend, but you can appreciate his timeframe and what led to his decisions with a little better clarity. Toland does an excellent job with Eva Braun, bringing her forward from the shadows and fleshing out the dismissive view nearly every historian has taken of her since Speer casted her as the dumb blond of history. He takes her diary entries and interviews with her sister and makes her human, as well. He uses the surviving members of the inner circle and their recollections as a starting point for his research, rather than as gospel truth itself, such as David Irving might use. His treatment of Goring's contributions to the Reich does get short shrift, but his brief portrayals of Goebels and Himmler are fascinating, but Ribbentrop gets virtually no stage time at all, and Speer is mercifully left waiting in the wings. If there is one aspect of the history of Hitler that he pushes too hard, it is his assertion that Hitler had Jewish extermination planed and premeditated from an early point, and was fairly open about in his later 1930's speeches. I don't quite buy it, but until I can find texts of those speeches, specifically one given at Sonthofen in 1938 or 1939, I can't say definitively yes or no on this point. The last point to remember about Toland is that he was a journalist first, and not a trained historian, and so the professionals tend to look down their noses at him, Kershaw and Hastings most of all. But I love his writing. He is a storyteller by profession as a journalist, and he really brings you into the story, with solid writing and good flow. He belabors nothing, and so long as you have a basic familiarity with the story of the Reich, you can take the very long trip in this book and enjoy it quite heartily. Footnote: Mussolini and Franco are fleshed out well, too, while Stalin, Churchill and FDR remain at long range, viewed from Hitler's eyes, over the hill and through a glass dimly. I give I 4 and a half stars and recommend the full two volume edition, which is sometimes hard to find these days. Be sure what you're buying if you look for it. There is an audio edition available from major library systems now also, which I listened to, and it's narrated quite well, with a voice actor who is very familiar with German (thank goodness!) and doesn't fumble any of the names or pronunciations.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Frederic Kerr

    This 1,230 page book seemed shorter, because it was well written. Rather than provide much military, psychological or political analysis, author John Toland just tells the story of Adolf Hitler's life, via first hand accounts from diaries and, in some cases, personal interviews with survivors. The book was published in 1976, when interviewing survivors was still possible. It's like a nouveau roman format: the author's narrative camera moves through the scenes without much commentary. Readers fami This 1,230 page book seemed shorter, because it was well written. Rather than provide much military, psychological or political analysis, author John Toland just tells the story of Adolf Hitler's life, via first hand accounts from diaries and, in some cases, personal interviews with survivors. The book was published in 1976, when interviewing survivors was still possible. It's like a nouveau roman format: the author's narrative camera moves through the scenes without much commentary. Readers familiar with Napoleon Bonaparte will be struck by the similarities between the two dictators. Might made right. Both rose from obscurity and built huge empires that quickly crumbled because of the animosity they created among their many opponents. Both saw themselves as following a destiny that assured victory and protected them from harm. They were bullies, who grabbed what they could get away with and quickly scrapped alliances that no longer suited them, always blaming the other party. Both double-crossed Russian leaders, sewing the seeds of their own destruction. Both ignored their own military advisors. They were obnoxious megalomaniacs convinced of their own righteousness, capable of charm until they faced opposition. Both were useless at finance, spending much more than their regimes took in. Hitler and Napoleon were also different in many respects. Hitler, unlike Napoleon, was no military genius and was not motivated by money. Whereas Napoleon was a womanizer with a taste for the finer things, which he looted from the treasuries of the countries he conquered, Hitler was a vegetarian who lived like a monk, keeping his relationship with Eva Braun hidden from public view so as to retain his appeal to women voters by appearing to care only for the fatherland. Napoleon needed little sleep and had legendary energy. Hitler usually stayed up til 4 AM and rarely woke before noon. The undoing of Nazi Germany was Hitler's obsession with eradicating Jews and Bolshevism, grabbing land from Poland and Russia to create lebensraum (living space) for a future, larger German population. He viewed all decisions through this lens, which naturally appalled his enemies and drove him to make military errors. Hitler rose to power not via military success, as Napoleon had, but by exploiting popular resentment and terrible economic circumstances in the 1920s, through rabble rousing speechmaking. Like Napoleon, he alienated or attacked so many neighbours that he ended up fighting on too many fronts, leading to his country being invaded from all sides and reduced to the size it was when he started, at the cost of millions of lives. The most amazing part of the story is that although Hitler was making outrageous slurs against Jews as early as the 1920s, he managed to make the Nazis the largest party in Germany by 1933, through the democratic process. Readers of his speeches, which are excerpted in the book, will be shocked that Germans of that era could be won over by such craziness, even though resentment of the Versailles treaty was high and Germans wanted a scapegoat. The book made we want to do further reading on the questions of how he bamboozled so many people during his rise to power and how the Nazi economy worked. Hitler regarded himself as a nationalist, socialist, anti-communist. He regarded finance as a jewish/anglo saxon conspiracy that he blamed for his and Germany's pain between the wars, while simultaneously believing that communism was also a jewish conspiracy. Insane.

  21. 4 out of 5

    judy

    I'm just a teeny bit uncomfortable giving this five stars because--of all reasons--it was too complete and too easy to read (all 1000+ pages) Still, the cast of characters around Hitler was not that large. Many of them lived to tell their tales. Also, Hitler wasn't secretive around his top lieutenants. In other words, there could be several witnesses to a conversation. Toland's interview list is impressive. I love Rise and Fall of the Third Reich but this is something very different. It attempts I'm just a teeny bit uncomfortable giving this five stars because--of all reasons--it was too complete and too easy to read (all 1000+ pages) Still, the cast of characters around Hitler was not that large. Many of them lived to tell their tales. Also, Hitler wasn't secretive around his top lieutenants. In other words, there could be several witnesses to a conversation. Toland's interview list is impressive. I love Rise and Fall of the Third Reich but this is something very different. It attempts to keep you with Hitler every moment. Ghastly, of course. The man was definitely certifiable and one of the world's best actors. When you've only seen b/w films of him screaming in German at a rally, you wonder how he could dominate so completely. There is nothing attractive about him. However, he did have a talent for public speaking and, in time, learned to fixate his audiences though understanding their psychology.They worshiped him. If you can deal with the fact that his main aim wasn't so much a master race and land but the extermination of every single jew, read on. This wasn't like Putin trying to use hatred of gays to shore himself up. Hitler truly believed that the jews controlled everything and must be annihilated. This included women and children because you couldn't risk another generation.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    Toland's extensive biography of Hitler is, in a word, unbelievable. No aspect of the guy's life goes untouched and it is told in a very easy-to-read fashion. The book focuses solely on Hitler, so if you wanted an overview of the Holocaust in general you won't find it in here. In fact, during the war the book focuses more on war tactics and strategy than the humanitarian crisis in the Third Reich. It sheds some light on Himmler, but given that the Fuhrer essentially told Himmler how to take care o Toland's extensive biography of Hitler is, in a word, unbelievable. No aspect of the guy's life goes untouched and it is told in a very easy-to-read fashion. The book focuses solely on Hitler, so if you wanted an overview of the Holocaust in general you won't find it in here. In fact, during the war the book focuses more on war tactics and strategy than the humanitarian crisis in the Third Reich. It sheds some light on Himmler, but given that the Fuhrer essentially told Himmler how to take care of the "Jewish problem" and Himmler just did it, there was little need for Toland to delve too deep into it (though Hitler's anti-Semitism is certainly explored throughout the 900 pages). Honestly, it's an undertaking to read this book. It took me two months, which meant that was two months in which most of my reading was devoted to a crazy megalomaniac who somehow seized those delusions of power. On the back cover there is a quote from Newsweek that nicely sums up how I feel about this book: "The first book that anyone who wants to learn about Hitler or the war in Europe must read."

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jason Young

    What an incredible piece of writing. It took seven months and about twenty other books, but I'm glad I read this. I had a hard time reading it in public, and had to put it down from time to time, but it's stirring and well told in a way I wouldn't have expected. What an incredible piece of writing. It took seven months and about twenty other books, but I'm glad I read this. I had a hard time reading it in public, and had to put it down from time to time, but it's stirring and well told in a way I wouldn't have expected.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Christina

    Everyone should know the workings of a truly evil mind so that it can be recognized and stopped

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    Good book for someone interested in WWII but for anyone else it's too long to suffer through. I loved it though. Good book for someone interested in WWII but for anyone else it's too long to suffer through. I loved it though.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Josh McAdams

    Amazing level of details. Reveals a human being and not a caricature or a monster. I'm a huge fan of this author and will try to read all his works. Amazing level of details. Reveals a human being and not a caricature or a monster. I'm a huge fan of this author and will try to read all his works.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Timothy Gretler

    Great book, gave me a new understanding of how Hitler was able to bring a whole nation under his spell. Very thorough research, it really sets the standard in biography.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Bryce

    The single best written, told story of one of the most dispicable, repulsive "humans". The only book you need to read and understand Adolf Hiter, from birth to his cowardice suicide. His climb, creation of the party, SS, SA and SD. Sadly the "final solution" and the extermination of 6 million innocent Jewish men, women and children. Disturbing as it is eye opening. As a amature history buff, the one underlying factor was how did he convince Germany to become Nazis? How did he convince one of the The single best written, told story of one of the most dispicable, repulsive "humans". The only book you need to read and understand Adolf Hiter, from birth to his cowardice suicide. His climb, creation of the party, SS, SA and SD. Sadly the "final solution" and the extermination of 6 million innocent Jewish men, women and children. Disturbing as it is eye opening. As a amature history buff, the one underlying factor was how did he convince Germany to become Nazis? How did he convince one of the Worlds most intelligent, gifted cultures, in multiple sciences, arts of all forms and manufacturing. This the book to provide you that understanding and insight. Be prepared for the truths written and unfolded like a movie.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Shelley Alongi

    I think this book was written when I was 10 years old which would’ve been the same year that I became fascinated by the whole event of the third Reich. I learned about this book many years ago probably through extensive bibliographies or footnotes. I finally picked up the book this year and it felt like a slug. Is that a word? I think it is. I am not discounting the book because I found it really informative. I also found that this book contains many of the facts that I have read over the years I think this book was written when I was 10 years old which would’ve been the same year that I became fascinated by the whole event of the third Reich. I learned about this book many years ago probably through extensive bibliographies or footnotes. I finally picked up the book this year and it felt like a slug. Is that a word? I think it is. I am not discounting the book because I found it really informative. I also found that this book contains many of the facts that I have read over the years which makes me even more sure that I did discover this book through bibliographies. When I was looking through library books on some subject I found it and I thought I think it’s time to read this book. When I say I was looking through the library on some subject, I mean that I was looking for something probably about German history and I found this book. Are usually find that I discover my best books by accident. I discovered them when I am looking for something else. When I found this book I thought it was definitely time to read it. It takes a very complex subject and makes it have meaning for the general as well as for the educated Reader. He includes a glossary with German words which are found throughout the book and that is a good place to start especially if you don’t know all of the terms or the names of departments. What I found really useful at the end of the book was the table of ranks for the armies. I have read ranks especially for the SS but I didn’t understand the equivalence or just hadn’t looked at them up. I was glad to find that they had included this important listing. I found the moving from one event to the other to be followed very easily. He has as far as a writing style goes some very great transitional sentences. If you remember anything about writing essays or at least what we learned in school, you will remember that the magic happens with a transitional sentence. It gets you from one place to the other and he does that very well in this book. When I finished Reading the book, I was reluctant to put it down and that may have been because it took me three months to get through it. However, when I finish this book I felt a temporary overwhelming sadness to think that so many lives have been affected by one life. I think that is a testimony to the powerful telling of the story and even perhaps to the story itself.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Isabelle Duchaine

    So much of our understanding of history is driven by "Great Man" interpretations: - Genghis Khan conquered the world; - Martin Luther had 95 theses; - Christopher Columbus 'found' America; And there's a pretty logical reason for that. First of all, it makes it easier to understand history, at least at a basic level, when you're only worried about a couple of dudes in a given place at a time. Secondly, there's so much more of the historical record about powerful individuals and how they lived their l So much of our understanding of history is driven by "Great Man" interpretations: - Genghis Khan conquered the world; - Martin Luther had 95 theses; - Christopher Columbus 'found' America; And there's a pretty logical reason for that. First of all, it makes it easier to understand history, at least at a basic level, when you're only worried about a couple of dudes in a given place at a time. Secondly, there's so much more of the historical record about powerful individuals and how they lived their lives. This trend begins to fall away in the 20th century, and so even though I studied A LOT about WWII, the Holocaust and fascism as a political force, I knew only the basics about its architect - Hitler. This book gives you a lot of Hitler. 44 hours of Hitler if you're listening to the audiobook, which I recommend. From his bucolic childhood to his joy in serving at the Front in WWI to his angsty years in Vienna, it charts his yearning for greatness with the development of his political philosophies. For all of his megalomania and need for control, Hitler remained at arms lengths from so much of the horrors and consequences of his reign. How Hitler interpreted and wielded his power is the most interesting facet of this book: the transformation of the Army and the development of the SS, allegiances with other Axis powers, and the development of the party in which he was the sole arbitrator. Worth the time investment.

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