Hitler 1936 To 1945 Nemesis Paperback – Sep 4 2001
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George VI thought him a "damnable villain," and Neville Chamberlain found him not quite a gentleman; but, to the rest of the world, Adolf Hitler has come to personify modern evil to such an extent that his biographers always have faced an unenviable task. The two more renowned biographies of Hitler--by Joachim C. Fest ( Hitler) and by Alan Bullock ( Hitler: A Study in Tyranny)--painted a picture of individual tyranny which, in the words of A.J.P. Taylor, left Hitler guilty and every other German innocent. Decades of scholarship on German society under the Nazis have made that verdict look dubious; so, the modern biographer of Hitler must account both for his terrible mindset and his charismatic appeal. In the second and final volume of his mammoth biography of Hitler--which covers the climax of Nazi power, the reclamation of German-speaking Europe, and the horrific unfolding of the final solution in Poland and Russia--Ian Kershaw manages to achieve both of these tasks. Continuing where Hitler: Hubris 1889-1936 left off, the epic Hitler: Nemesis 1937-1945 takes the reader from the adulation and hysteria of Hitler's electoral victory in 1936 to the obsessive and remote "bunker" mentality that enveloped the Führer as Operation Barbarossa (the attack on Russia in 1942) proved the beginning of the end. Chilling, yet objective. A definitive work. --Miles Taylor --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
At the conclusion of Kershaw's Hitler, 1889-1936: Hubris (1999), the Rhineland had been remilitarized, domestic opposition crushed, and Jews virtually outlawed. What the genuinely popular leader of Germany would do with his unchallenged power, the world knows and recoils from. The historian's duty, superbly discharged by Kershaw, is to analyze how and why Hitler was able to ignite a world war, commit the most heinous crime in history, and throw his country into the abyss of total destruction. He didn't do it alone. Although Hitler's twin goals of expelling Jews and acquiring "living space" for other Germans were hardly secret, "achieving" them did not proceed according to a blueprint, as near as Kershaw can ascertain. However long Hitler had cherished launching an all-out war against the Jews and against Soviet Russia, as he did in 1941, it was only conceivable as reality following a tortuous series of events of increasing radicality, in both foreign and domestic politics. At each point, whether haranguing a mass audience or a small meeting of military officers, the demagogue had to and did persuade his listeners that his course of action was the only one possible. Acquiescence to aggression and genocide was further abetted by the narcotic effect of the "Hitler myth," the propagandized image of the infallible leader as national savior, which produced a force for radicalization parallel to Hitler's personal murderous fanaticism; the motto of the time called it "working towards the Fuhrer." Underlings in competition with each other would do what they thought Hitler wanted, as occurred with aspects of organizing the Final Solution. Kershaw's narrative connecting this analysis gives outstanding evidence that he commands and understands the source material, producing this magisterial scholarship that will endure for decades. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
However the biggest flaw of this account is the subtle but pervasive bias throughout. Kershaw states up front that he detests Hitler but is obviously fascinated by his career. Later, Kershaw concludes that Hitler was "an ill-educated beerhall demagogue and racist bigot". While true, it is an incomplete description. Yet for Kershaw it is enough and he uses this account to paint a portrait of Hitler almost as a self-destructive fool who was incapable of seeing reality. Not only Hitler, but the Third Reich, the Whermacht itself, most of the generals and even the German people seem pretty incapable and fatalistic here.
Nowhere is Kershaw's account more biased than in his account of wartime operations. German successes are minimized, the campaigns in Poland, France, Norway and the Balkans get one page or less each. Kershaw attempts to chide the German Navy by stating that the cruiser Blucher was sunk "by a single shell from an ancient coastal battery". In fact, the cruiser was hit by two 11", thirteen 6", thirty 57mm shells and two torpedoes and despite this loss, the Germans still took Oslo. On the other hand, Allied disasters are totally ignored.Read more ›
As far as I can see Kershaw does not contradict the Bullock or Fest biographies, rather he complements them, and further explains the malignant 'working towards the Fuhrer' by which Hitler's will rather than his spoken orders were carried out. Kershasw gives an in-depth description of the chaotic Third Reich in which Hitler became the spider in a vast web of intrigue, in-fighting and betrayal. Out of this nexus grew the Final Solution and the Second World War, two of the most fateful events that ever befell the human race.
Kershaw has been critised in not giving more credence to Hitler's 'military genius'. It has been pointed out that the portrait of 'Hitler the military blunderer' is a self serving one painted by his generals who liked to talk as if they were prevented from winning the war by the mistakes of a rank amateur.
True, Hitler was not the clumsy blunderer of legend who by accident won a war against France, and by sheer guile almost pulled off the defeat of the Soviet Union. Yet, his successes can also be exaggerated. While there will always be arguments about the success (or otherwise) of Barbarossa, yet by Christmas 1941, it was clear that Barbarossa has been no more successful than the Schlieffen Plan of 1914. Yet Germany persisted in the same course as it had then, struggling against lengthening odds until final defeat.Read more ›
This book has it all. Ian Kershaw approaches the subject from a scholarly perspective, but although you have to suffer from at times somewhat too scientific forms of expression, his narrative talents, and especially his vocabulary, are excellent. His use of the British English is masterly. But on the whole, the scholarly approach is beneficial, enabling Kershaw to ask the right questions about Hitler, his rise to power and his finally complete and utter domination of the German Reich, and also to provide us with the right answers. The conclusions are very well-founded, and convincingly supported by the facts in the book.
This is not to say that this book will never be superseded. New research will inevitably reveal new and interesting interpretations of the Hitler issue and some day there will be enough new material and enough of new analyses, to enable us to draw partially new conclusions about Hitler, his life and his role in history. However, it is very difficult to view this book as merely another part of an ongoing scholarly debate, some day to be proved wrong by superior evidence. Rather, this is a reference work about Hitler. The text of the two books, complete with abbreviations, notes, literature and register spans nearly 2,000 pages. It is in that perspective this book should be viewed: a huge, enormous chronicle over Hitler's life and deeds.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
I read this book hoping for some greater enlightenment about Adolf Hitler, his life, and times. There is nothing new in this book that has not been covered in about a hundred... Read morePublished on July 1 2004
This book is not only the definitive biography of Hitler but also an excellent history text of this time period. Read morePublished on June 23 2004 by patrick rice
In this second of two volumes, historian Ian Kershaw shows how Hitler after his initial stunning successes in the 1930s finally over-reached himself, became... Read more
I've read many a book about World War II, but this is one of the very best. Kershaw's first volume ("Hubris") was an outright biography, with the beginnings of the Nazi era in... Read morePublished on Sept. 21 2002 by fastreader
In this riveting account, drawing on many previously untapped sources--including Joseph Goebbel's diaries, recently discovered in Moscow--& incorporating numerous contemporaneous... Read morePublished on Sept. 17 2002
I expected much more. Dry and tedious, Mr. Kershaw pacts each page with wave after wave of flat, colorless data. Read morePublished on July 15 2002 by Andrew Freborg
The two part Ian Kershaw's biography of Adolph Hitler are separate but equal portions of the life of Adolph Hitler, not the most popular, attractive or marketable of personages to... Read morePublished on March 7 2002 by allan bachman
I found the book as one of the most significant works on National Socialism that has appeared in the last decade. Read morePublished on March 7 2002 by Prof. Otto Dov Kulka, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Ian Kershaw's "Hitler" is the best biography on Hitler...period! Is it perfect? No. The first volume was more personal and probably a little better than the second. Read morePublished on Feb. 20 2002
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