Based on previously unpublished documents, diaries, notes, photographs, and dramatic interviews with Hitler's colleagues and associates, this is the definitive biography of one of the most despised yet fascinating figures of the 20th century. Painstakingly documented, it is a work that will not soon be forgotten.
©1976 John Toland (P)2014 Blackstone Audio
Before I listened to this book I really didn't like Hitler but by the end of the book I felt like everyone around him didn't realize how much help he needed for his mental health.
"Absolutely fascinating, in depth and jarring."
This is one of the best audio books I've listened to.
This is a brilliant companion piece to "A World Undone" by GJ Meyer [a chronicle of WWI] and "No Simple Victory" by Norman Davies [WWII] in that it gives you an in depth look at how the world got from the First World War to the Second and even supports the premise that both were actually parts of a single World War.
Obviously well researched, one of the most jarring statements made in the book was that if Hitler had died in the mid 30s, he would most likely have been remembered as a truly great leader and savior of the German people.
Toland goes to great pains to avoid passing judgment on Hitler, Nazis, and so on. And to an astonishing degree, he is successful. The book is vivid, thorough, and detailed. And yet, somehow the 40-some hours have flown by.
What can you say about a man who had this much impact on history? How could a person rise from such humble beginnings to mesmerize and captivate a nation, instilling god-like devotion in his followers and inspiring them to wage war on the rest of the world?
This book provides some of the answers, but the true inner Hitler will always remain something of a mystery. He had an unusual early life: He was born in Austria, not Germany. His father was illegitimate and his grandfather may have been Jewish, no one knows for sure. In early adulthood he aspired to be an artist, but he struggled greatly to make a successful career out of this. His failure resulted in him living, for a time, on the streets, in dire poverty. At this stage there were no obvious signs that he was a monster: He loved and cared greatly for his mother and was heartbroken when she died. Strangely, he greatly respected the Jewish doctor who treated her for cancer.
In World War One, he miraculously survived four years of trench warfare as a lowly corporal. Germany’s defeat was very painful for him, but he enjoyed and revelled in warfare more than any other activity. From this time onwards he was motivated by two main passions: the rise of Germany and the destruction of the Jews. In order to bring this about he needed to rise to power, and to acquire this power he used his extraordinary talent for oration. He was a brilliant speaker. Despite his unremarkable appearance and diminutive stature, he captivated his audiences wherever he went.
He used this talent to harness the German people's patriotism, their fear of communism and their anti-Semitism, persuading them to go to war to create a new German Empire. His method of waging war, ‘blitzkrieg’, was innovative and immensely successful. This military success continued for a while, but it nurtured an unrealistic optimism in Hitler. As the tide of war started to turn, when the USSR and USA joined the fight against Germany, he continued attacking, against overwhelming enemy forces, in the mistaken belief that he could repeat his early successes. This approach, which incurred massive loss of life, continued right to Hitler’s end. In his final few days, even as he could hear Russian artillery fire from his bunker in Berlin, he was ordering counterattacks in the deluded belief that the war could still be won. Finally, when he realized that the war was lost, he committed suicide to avoid the humiliation of capture by the Russians.
Why did he hate Jews and treat them so abominably? I didn't find an answer in this book. The Jews have been persecuted throughout history, so antipathy towards them is not particularly rare, but the extent of Hitler's hatred of the Jews and the appalling cruelty he perpetrated upon them was exceptional and truly shocking. Clearly, he used anti-Semitism as a means of motivating others to fight for his cause, but why he wanted to go as far as to commit genocide is unclear. There doesn't seem to have been an incident in his life where he was badly treated by Jews, so it is hard to identify how this came about.
Listening, for 44 hours, to the story of the rise and fall of Adolf Hitler was certainly interesting, although there are certain feelings of guilt and self-accusations of morbid fascination associated with it! I wasn’t able to completely solve the puzzle of what formed this man’s character and how he succeeded so spectacularly, but I did gain some valuable insights into his life and times. If you are interested in history, this book is definitely worth listening to.
An interesting and accurate account revealing some detail on lessor known events, interesting insight into Hitler's manner towards secretaries etc.
"About as good as it gets."
As an old history major, I can appreciate how difficult and depressing a subject this is. Toland not only writes very well, interspersing the narrative with interesting quotes and anecdotes, but manages to write very objectively. He succeeds in giving an understanding of what happened and to an extent, why, leaving partisan rancor to others.
"A close look at the most influential villain of modern history"
This book explores the story of Adolf Hitler from his early years to his end, acknowledging his sins but not making him into a quasi-cartoon villain like some other books about him seem to love to do. Overall, this is a story of a man who let his anger and indignation take him down a dark path full of death and destruction. A difficult listen, but a necessary one if you want to know the man behind the hate.
"An exceptional audiobook"
It's hard to walk away with anything but horrible fascination as you learn of Hitler's rise
"Well read and interesting documentary"
Performance was very good, and this documentary of a truly remarkable if not stilted man gives a fair reflection of how a strong enough personality can make and break a nation.
"The making of a cult leader"
The main reason I bought this long book about Hitler is because I admire John Toland as a writer and historian, but my real interest was in trying to understand cult leaders and messianic personalities. It is amazing how much detail Mr. Toland has amassed about Hitler's life, and the reader is able draw their own conclusions and create a portrait from their own perspective.
Kudos to Mr. Toland for setting the record straight about the Jesse Owen's story.
For more info on cult leaders, I recommend "Prophetic Charisma" by Len Oakes.
A very well thought out exposition of the private life of one of history's most loathed tyrants, presented in a calm, thoughtful tone that manages to convey Toland's (almost) perfect impartiality while still holding the interest of the reader. A fascinating listen.
"A detailed and facinating book"
Not the best, a little slow.
World War II... Why
A must read for anyone intersted in WW II
"only as an audiobook I managed.."
yes, overall a very good overview over Hitler, quite long but as audiobook manageable. I doubt that I would have had enough stamina to read it myself
I preferred the early part where the author attempted to explore Hitler's childhood, youth and development.In later parts Hitler's psychology drifts in the background. I guess the author did not want to speculate too much, but I flt the earlier part was more interesting tas it attempted to explore the influences that may have shaped Hitler's inner world
I think audible should revise the questions it gives for the reviews, they are not applicable for non-fiction.I liked the narration very much. Ralph Cosham's voice is well suited for non-fiction, neutral but never boring.
"Factual and Flowing account of A Hitler"
None to date
Long audio, Ralph keeps your listening consistent
You Really get to know what A Hitler was all about, this was my primary goal in understanding, the boy, the man, the unbelievable leader (getting to power) and the lunatic. I would have like to got to know more on his interaction with Generals, his thought process and strategy on taking on Western and eastern fronts
"Long and informative"
This is a lengthy book which I probably wouldn't tackle as a conventional book but found the audio version was easy to listen to in bite size chunks and, for me with an interest in the events of WW11, very informative.
Congratulations to the narrator who stuck at it for 40+ hours with an easy to listen to tone.
"Deeply researched and well presented"
Accounts were presented as quotations from witnesses, very few judgements were made on the evidence but the potential bias in each of the sources was highlighted and I felt implicitly invited to draw my own conclusions
Those involved in the 20th July Plot, brave men but tragically unsuccessful and probably too late to act. Both Anthony Eden and Winston Churchill admirably sounded early warnings as to Hitler's intentions but Eden appears to have preferred to resign than to continue his efforts to wake up the Western Powers, whilst Churchill was in the political wilderness until War began. When Churchill became PM, I had much admiration for his unwillingness to negotiate with the evil Axis regimes, even when it seemed that Britain would be next on the invasion list.
Difficult to enjoy any scene from such a tragic and calamitous subject, I guess the point at which the World finally decides to stand up to Hitler comes as a relief to the reader but, as everyone now appreciates, this stand was made far too late.
Making a new film about the life of Hitler would be unwise in my opinion. Any film would have to be appropriately aligned to highlight the ultimate human cost of his actions, I think "Downfall" did an excellent job of covering the final weeks and I wouldn't attempt to supersede this work.
There have been many comments about Ralph Cosham's narration being "dull" but I would counter this by saying that the tone is sobering and that this is appropriate - the very last thing I would want to hear would be a narration of Hitler's life story presented with razzmatazz and glamour in the name of entertainment. On the other hand there were ocassions where Ralph Cosham inserted an "aaa" sound before some words in a British Upper Class style that caused confusion under some circumstances where it sounded like singular "a" and I expected a noun to follow. In my opinion this quirk of dialect should have been avoided or edited out. Paradoxically, I have heard Ralph Cosham narrate some Sherlock Holmes stories and this time the British Upper Class style actually added to the story and gave it more authenticity but not appropriate here!
Loved every minute of this audiobook. The narration was brilliant. Highly recommended. A A A
"Detailed and well read"
An full detailed account of Hitler's Life, dispelling some myths as well as going into detail on some of the lesser known aspects. Very well done.
"Very good story about hitter"
Very good and the history story was well written and well spoke and kept the person involved in the historic story and kept simple most people will understand
This book was a fantastic insight into the mind and actions of the infamous Hitler
I found this book very interesting and the detail and background work gone into producing is amazing.
I'll leave it a year and listen to all over again
A bit American in orientation,, but otherwise excellent. Ralph Cosham reads well and has a pleasing voice. I thoroughly recommend this audio book.
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