Life and Death of Adolf Hitler

Life and Death of Adolf Hitler

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Product details

  • Paperback | 824 pages
  • 120 x 180mm
  • Random House Children's Publishers UK
  • Corgi Childrens
  • London, United Kingdom
  • New edition
  • New edition
  • Ill.
  • 0552097837
  • 9780552097833

Review Text

Rumor has it that our young are now so far removed historically from the experience of Hitler that so many of us felt so immediately that they sometimes confuse him as a contemporary of, say, Napoleon or Woodrow Wilson; moreover, they have not learned, it is said, nor absorbed the full horror of the reign of carnage Hitler visited upon the western world. Robert Payne wants us - all of us - to remember and to study again and again the story of how this "totally alienated" man full of "nihilistic fury" who more resembled Dostoyevsky's mousehole man than any real person came to power, came to be called der Fuehrer and finally Oberster Gerichtsherr or Supreme Law Lord in a nation which claimed Enlightenment, came to give an unwary world Blitzkrieg and Auschwitz, came to cause such unparalleled suffering wherever he cast his rage. "We need to come to terms with Hitler by knowing more about him," writes Payne, "because his spirit is far from dead. . . . The small Hitlers are around us every day, tormenting us with their promises, rejoicing in our weaknesses." We must mainline the lesson of history; we must watch for the "small signals" of the psychopath who would lead us; we must ensure that authority is answerable to the people. So Payne tells anew the Hitlerian drama - the Sturm und Drang of evil genius. No revised portrait of the Nazi phenomenon is proffered - Hitler's rise was "a result of ludicrous and terrible accidents"; Hitler oscillated between "periods of lucidity" and madness ("then the hammers would beat on his brain"); he was obsessed with making Berlin the most beautiful city in Europe; he died in the Fuehrer-bunker with Eva at his side ("Like Siegfried he would lie on a bed of fire, and Brunnhilde would lie beside him"), the Gotterdammerung. Payne is a popular biographer (Lenin, Stalin, Gandhi, et al.), not a historian, and his Hitler is on the near side of the earlier studies by Bullock (Hitler, A Study In Tyranny, 1953) and Langer (The Mind of Adolf Hitler, the secret wartime psychohistorical analysis written in 1943 and published last year), with none of the sweep of events of, for instance, Shirer's Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. The book will do well, however; it will be heavily promoted by the publisher and is the main April BOMC selection. And it does achieve Payne's aim - a stark reminder that arrogation of absolute power by any political leader is an invitation to calamity and death. (Kirkus Reviews)show more