on March 3, 2014
This book is undoubtedly historical work of professional level. It is a detailed, yet lively, account of the life and endeavours of this high ranking and influencial figure of the Nazi Germany. It rests on abundant and varied documentation.
One comes to grasp the compounded impact of psychological, social, political and historical factors on individual lives and society.
Such consideration can then be transferred to other societies and eras, making the book a study of general history.
Comparable to some extend and in terms of intellectual achievement, to "Napoléon" by Jacques Banville, and "Hitler" by Ian Kershaw
Update: recently finished reading the book. No doubt educationnal and based on thorough historical research. Too much details, repetitions and going back and forth in time and between events. It thus looses some dynamic qualities and lead the reader astray from a coherent and enlightened overall picture. Contrary to many books I own, I won't be going throuh it again for the reasons stated above. I am thus taking back two stars.
on October 10, 2015
An excellent history of a Twentieth Century monster. The social and psychological forces that came into play to create someone like Himmler are examined in detail, although such evil can never be truly explained. As history, this book is invaluable, because we have to examine all the dark corners to arrive at a true picture of the events that shaped our world. Himmler, Hitler, and the rest tend to taint my bookshelves with their presence but they are as essential as Churchill and Roosevelt in helping to understand. Hold your nose if you must, but read this book.
on June 19, 2012
I just finished reading this volume. It is impressive. I did find that the author repeats himself often. I dislike the fact that the biography is not necessarily chronological. From chapter to chapter the author bounces back & forth in time. We all know that millions of Jews were murdered, the author insists on repeating this hundred of times. The first 2 or 3 chapters are interesting enough as it explores the life and personality & childhood of the young Himmler.
Just an average biography.
"Nothing in Himmler's childhood and youth, .... would suggest that someone with clearly abnormal characteristics was growing up there." So writes the author which only deepens the mystery of the man. Longerich describes Himmler as brusque, disengaged with personal predilections, aversions, and diverse quirks. These 'traits' permeated the SS and other Nazi organizations and departments under his control. The author likens the SS "towards that of a modern service industry" which speaks to Himmler's need to please but on his terms.
Something must have been lacking in Himmler's family because he built his own when he constructed the SS. It was his "clan" (he also called it a nation, tribe, community) and at its core was racial selection based on an entirely new and comprehensive interpretation of "the supposedly Germanic core of German history". The author believes that Himmler suffered from a severe attachment disorder that impacted all of his personal relationships helping to explain why he favored the orderly attributes of soldiers and military life even when he had never fought or led on the battlefield.
Most telling Longerich writes, "Himmler himself needed symbols and insignia, myths and shrines, festivals and rituals, both to orientate himself as well as to give sensuous expression to his fantasy world and to be able to share it with others, even if imperfectly." The man created a bizarre theme park for himself that became the well-known instrument of evil. I have often wondered when Nazi leadership gathered if they all did not look at each other in the ever-changing and varied uniforms and not register to a degree how silly the whole thing was ... the symbolism of the regime would be comedic if not so chilling.
Himmler has come across as more omnipotent than Hitler, more cunning than Goebbels, more influential than Bormann, and exceedingly more capable than the lot (except towards the very end when he receives responsibility for battle). It has not helped that a great deal of fiction and film portray him as all knowing, masterful, and brilliant. Without a doubt this is a comprehensive work on Himmler, however, I took most away from the Prologue and the Conclusion where Longerich tries his best to understand the man rather than only detail his deeds.
on October 6, 2012
I purchased the kindle version of this book. It did not take long before I realized this was not a real history book but a propaganda book. To my mind, a history book worthy of the name, is based purely on facts and not on the subjective opinions of the author. It is neither a platform to express the author's hate for the subject he/she is writing about. This is a piece of usual anti nazi and or anti German propaganda and it is not worth the money I paid for it. This author is definately on my list of not to buy from.