A ruthless dictator who saved his country from economic ruin only to nearly destroy it—and an entire people—in his quest for world domination, Adolf Hitler forever changed the course of history. His unlikely rise to power and his uncanny ability to manipulate his fellow man resulted in the deaths of millions of Europeans and a horrific world war, yet despite his colossal role in world history, he remains mythologized and, as a result, perennially misunderstood. In this masterful account of Hitler's life, acclaimed biographer A.N. Wilson pulls back the curtain to reveal the man behind the mythic figure, shedding new light on Hitler's personality, his ascent to power and his complex relationship with the German people.
In 1923, a 34-year-old Hitler was serving a term in Landsberg Prison after taking part in an unsuccessful putsch to overthrow the German government. Initially viewed with derision or bemusement by the German people, he made steady gains in election after election—and within a decade, he was the most powerful man in Europe. As Germany’s leader, Hitler delivered on his promise of full employment and created what appeared to be a booming economy while Britain was suffering punishing levels of unemployment with no real welfare benefits. His popularity seemed to know no bounds. The slow deprivation of civil freedoms and rights to Jews did not initially displease all Germans. At the same time, the full, horrfic extent of Nazi anti-Semitic extermination plans were unknown to many even within their own movement—let alone to the outside world—when they began to be put into operation during the early 1940s. Internationally, too, Hitler’s triumphs were extraordinary, and soon the Rhineland, Sudetenland and Austria fell to the German army, which suffered barely a casualty. By 1940, there was no doubt that Hitler was Europe’s master.
But there was another story—and in this compelling short biography, Wilson positions Hitler as a man who not only embodied the excesses of the Third Reich but one who also represented the mediocrity of what optimists called “the Century of the Common Man.” For all the limitations of his personal accomplishments—as the child of a poverty-stricken family, with no great educational, military or moral qualifications for leadership—Hitler was able, through remarkable energy, superbly choreographed rallies and electrifying rhetoric, to become a second Napoleon. Ultimately, Wilson limns this mysterious figure with great verve and acuity, showing that it is Hitler's frightening normalcy—not some otherworldly evilness—that makes him so truly terrifying.
In a field populated with lengthy tomes, Wilson’s brief, insightful portrait offers a compelling introduction to a man who continues to fascinate and appall.
Hardcover Book : 224 pages
Publisher: Basic Books Inc. ( February 01, 2012 )
Item #: 13-552452
Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.25 x 0.56inches
Product Weight: 10.0 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)