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Publisher's Summary

Hailed as the most compelling biography of the German dictator yet written, Ian Kershaw's Hitler brings us closer than ever before to the heart of its subject's immense darkness.

From his illegitimate birth in a small Austrian village to his fiery death in a bunker under the Reich chancellery in Berlin, Adolf Hitler left a murky trail, strewn with contradictory tales and overgrown with self-created myths. One truth prevails: the sheer scale of the evils that he unleashed on the world has made him a demonic figure without equal in the 20th century.

Ian Kershaw's Hitler brings us closer than ever before to the character of the bizarre misfit in his 30-year ascent from a Viennese shelter for the indigent to uncontested rule over the German nation that had tried and rejected democracy in the crippling aftermath of World War I. With extraordinary vividness, Kershaw recreates the settings that made Hitler's rise possible: the virulent anti-Semitism of prewar Vienna, the crucible of a war with immense casualties, the toxic nationalism that gripped Bavaria in the 1920s, the undermining of the Weimar Republic by extremists of the Right and the Left and the hysteria that accompanied Hitler's seizure of power in 1933 and then mounted in brutal attacks by his storm troopers on Jews and others condemned as enemies of the Aryan race.

In an account drawing on many previously untapped sources, Hitler metamorphoses from an obscure fantasist, a "drummer" sounding an insistent beat of hatred in Munich beer halls, to the instigator of an infamous failed putsch and, ultimately, to the leadership of a ragtag alliance of right-wing parties fused into a movement that enthralled the German people.

©1998 Ian Kershaw (P)2015 Audible, Ltd

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Excellent, life saver

I love this book. I was given a hard copy for my 21st two years ago. But having ADHD I struggled with a large book, not matter how much I tried I never finished it. And I dropped the book on my face. That was harsh. Audible, once again to the rescue!!!
Ian Kersaw's approach to this extremely sensitive subject is so fascinating and really helped me pull together the information I've learned in the decade I've been studying aspects of WWII.
The narrator is fabulous. His voice when quoting my other favourite WWII writer William Shirer was absolutely hilarious. Considering how sassy Mr Shirer could be. The narrator also really did well with the flow of the information in almost a conversational fashion. Which I enjoyed.
I would definitely recommend this audio book to the other wannabe historians out there.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Splendid, sobering, scholarly account

This is an abridged version of Ian Kershaw's scholarly biographies of Hitler and so contains faultless research and analysis. It is complete and comprehensive in its telling of Hitler's upbringing and youth, his experiences in the First World War and his astonishing rise to power. Kershaw's writing is disciplined and contained, but the shock of what he reveals is horrifying. Compelling, disturbing and revealing. It will change your world view.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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fantastic narration

solid content, if nothing revelatory - but excellent narration and most particularly French and German pronounciation

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  • Hugh
  • Inverell, Australia
  • 11-09-2018

Very Long but a must for everyone

This covers the life and times of Adolf Hitler in incredible detail. Even though it is very detailed, the content is far from dry. It depicts the character of one of the most evil and twisted people in history. Definitely food for serious thought.
A must for lovers of history. Thoroughly recommended

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Shudderling Brilliant and Horific

Listening to the written in conjunction with Audible version left me thinking how evil lurks just below the so called veneer of civilization. I am yet to read a biography of Stalin, but stand ready to be shocked even more. Despite the fact that there have been no global wars since WW2 other atrocities in other parts of the world and, in the name of bestiality and religion, should remind everyone that the Hitler Event will happen again. The human race has much to be feared.

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Chipping at the mystery that is Hitler's Germany

The"Great Man" view of history was under challenge before the rise of Hitler. Is history really the product of a few unique individuals or are their actives dictated by the society and culture that surrounds them?

Hitler presented a paradox. How could a civilised nation like Germany fall under the spell of bar room demagogue, and blindly follow him to self-destruction, in the process perpetrating great evils. Yet this is precisely what happened.

Kershaw's account carefully unveils the story of Hitler and how the combination of Hitler and the post-World War 1 Germany proved a lethal combination.

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All good very good book to lisen to will read agen

loved it good to read will read agen all good to good so on good

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encyclopaedia of Hitler's times

it is a encyclopaedia of knowledge of Hitler's times. sufficient insight into Polish and central European framework. great narrator, one of my favourites. deep voice and natural alterations and emphasis.

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  • Tom
  • 14-03-2016

How To Conquer Europe and Alienate People

Would you consider the audio edition of Hitler to be better than the print version?

A printed version of book such as this would undoubtedly be accompanied by photos, maps etc that provide a visual element to the story. Having said that, it's easy enough to Google such an image if desire as it's not like his story is small.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Hitler?

Certainly the end. It was well written and well read. It was also very enthralling listening to plans and thoughts being fleshed out with the beauty of hindsight on my side.

Have you listened to any of Damian Lynch’s other performances? How does this one compare?

I don't think I have.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Hitler: Putting the Man in Maniac.

Any additional comments?

Overall, this was quite an enthralling book. The level of detail is extraordinary however could possibly be culled a fraction (a scary thought when the author admit he already culled 100000 words before publication). I also found I got lost as to when in time we were during the early years. But I've come out the other side with what I feel is a pretty intimate idea of who the man was and how on earth he convince a country to go to war.

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  • Rishi Tiwari
  • 20-04-2018

Great historical record

This book refrains from providing a commentary on what happened but rather only reports what happened.

It doesn’t mentions the sociopolitical reasons adequately as to what led to the monster’s rise.

However the chronology is fantastic, detailed and I don’t believe one needs to read any other book after this to know further about the madness called Hitler, the person.

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  • margaret king
  • 23-11-2016

Three times and counting

Authoritative and measured, Ian Kershaw recounts the arc of Hitler's life in a way that is accessible to observers of history. I have listened to the book three times -- it is fairly dense and I struggled at times to keep track of unfamiliar German names -- and each time it has been more enlightening. No doubt I will listen to it again.

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  • D. Van Den Elzen
  • 07-12-2015

Well written, good performance.

What did you love best about Hitler?

I've been waiting for this book to appear on Audible for a long time. It was well written and well researched. I particularly liked the fact that Ian Kershaw contrast common explanations for the rise of Hitler with his own theories.

Have you listened to any of Damian Lynch’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Damian Lynch has a pleasant voice to listen to and a good command of german pronunciation. A captivating book and a joy to listen to.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 24-05-2016

A licked Hitler

A superb performance with excellent pronunciation of the many technical terms and titles. A feat of endurance to listen to, given the content, but well worth sticking with it.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Buzzzb
  • 15-09-2016

Engrossing

A masterful piece of work that recounts how a failed and insignificant artist from Austria could come to power and lead a civilised country to war and encourage many to plummet the depths of inhumanity. Using a range of evidence from historical events and recounts of eyewitnesses the text flowed and keep me engrossed from start to finish.

I find the narrator was excellent and kept my attention throughout.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • michael Billington
  • 13-11-2015

Finally kershaw's masterpiece for uk audible

Would you consider the audio edition of Hitler to be better than the print version?

Yes, the print version is wonderful but is heavy going, Prefer the audio version

What did you like best about this story?

The chapters dealing with Hitler's early life. Fascinating to see the future Nazi leader as he lives the life of a wastrel and layabout.

Which character – as performed by Damian Lynch – was your favourite?

Found the narration to be excellent all round

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The chapter dealing with the holocaust and the awful suffering that was planned and inflicted on innocent people.

Any additional comments?

This is a one volume abridgement of Kershaw's original two volume set, even still it is the best biography of Hitler. Goes some of the way to explaining how Hitler came to rule in Germany and how he was able to cause the suffering he did. Extremely glad to have this available to us in the UK.

19 of 22 people found this review helpful

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  • mjh
  • 13-11-2015

Worth the wait

Any additional comments?

An excellent book. Thank you Sir Ian for writing it, and to aubible for making it available to UK customers

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Mark Brandon
  • 22-02-2016

Exhaustive, occasionally exhausting...

This exhaustive, occasionally exhausting, biography of Adolf Hitler certainly delivers value for money in terms of sheer content, and despite the author's complaints at having to squeeze his two original volumes into one, frequently wanders off into what seem like minutiae, for instance reciting lists of people who were present at particular meetings, only for that to be entirely irrelevant to what happens next or even much later.

Hitler's early years seem to drag interminably at points; once established as a snobbish spendthrift with no talent for art, we are toured through every minutely-discovered detail of the man's early life, again with little real resonance later on. The actual events of WWII play surprisingly little part in the tale, with the author seemingly content to piece together the complex jigsaw of political events, rather than speculate on how Hitler's/the regime's reaction to setbacks might have affected decisions. In this, his devotion to evidence is meticulous, forensic even, and his critical scalpel sharp. The research has obviously been thorough, the access to exclusive sources clear in every authorly flourish.

That makes the main flaw with this autobiography - Kershaw's virtual dismissal of Hitler's manifest drug addiction and complete lack of understanding of/disinterest in what daily injections of crystal methamphetamine and/or cocaine (and other powerful drugs) would be doing to Hitler's brain - even more unforgivable than it ends up being.

One recent documentary mentions proof of 800 (!!) injections over the course of Dr Theodor Morell's intimate association with Hitler, including almost daily in the last few years. This alone - leaving aside anything Hitler was taking and failing to document during his mysterious absences, or any prior psychological conditions - would explain virtually every observed behavioural quirk, from insomnia to the 'Parkinsons Disease' symptoms (though he may have had this also of course). It is not difficult to believe that much of the leadership's sociopathy, dissociative narcissism, paranoia, lack of empathy and careless cruelty have their roots in the regime's endemic drug abuse.

While Kershaw's description of Nazi Germany as a kind of balanced, teetering chaos, with warring factions constantly competing and "driving towards the Fuhrer" is indeed compelling (and probably highly accurate), his failure to grasp the significance of Hitler's reliance on such destructive substances (and the addiction of millions of Germans, including much of the Wehrmacht, to commercially-produced amphetamines) is disappointing from such a well-regarded academic.

21 of 26 people found this review helpful

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  • Rebecca
  • 07-05-2016

Very informative and interesting.

This story had me really hooked all the way through and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who would like to know the facts about Hitler.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Alex Lamb
  • 06-01-2016

Compelling enough but hard to stay focused on

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

Time well spent? yes, of course. The subject matter is fascinating and told with a uniquely unbiased tone. My one critique would be the narrator's unfamiliarity with the text which seemed to cause unnecessary gaps when ending sentences or pronouncing longer words and an altogether deadpan recital.

What did you like best about this story?

Attention to detail. Being able to flesh out the myth into a personable man whilst avoiding the full-on supervillain approach of some others

Who might you have cast as narrator instead of Damian Lynch?

Perhaps someone more theatrical, capable of engaging with the listener just a little better.

If this book were a film would you go see it?

Definitely, I think this would make a great film that stands alone from most other depictions of the man.

Any additional comments?

Don't get me wrong, the narration was just fine, but there were times I was being spoken at rather than being engaged with.

10 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • Adam
  • 21-04-2016

Comprehensive and meticulously researched

This book is clearly an incredible piece of work. However, I found the level of detail almost too much for an audio book and feel it would be more easily digested on the printed page. Unfortunately, this situation is not helped by the choice of narrator. In addition to mangling the pronunciation of a number of simple words Damian Lynch sounds like he is reading out a shopping list most of the time.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Kirstine
  • 31-01-2017

Both riveting and horrifying

Despite this being a massive listen of over 44 hours I found it never flagged. I’ve read or listened to a number of books about the First and Second World Wars but only had a sketchy knowledge of Hitler’s early life. It is extraordinary how a lazy not very talented young man became a pivotal person of the 20th century. It is evident that he always had an overwhelming belief in his own abilities and latterly a sense of destiny. However, these early chapters show that there was no hint that he would attain the pinnacle of political power nor what was the basis of his pathological hatred of the Jews.

There are a number of ‘if only’ moments in his life that might have altered the history of the 20th C, but I come away with the depressing belief that he was not alone in his desire to avenge the outcome of the First World War nor that the Jews would have been spared persecution. Hitler was a megalomaniac who channeled these grievances and toxic beliefs. It is horrifying that so much barbaric cruelty, not just on the Jews, could be perpetrated by so many people in a number of western countries in the 20th century.

An outstanding biography excellently narrated including many German words that sounded authentically voiced.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • mr
  • 17-10-2016

Best insight into the worst human.

44 hours well used to try and craft your own understanding of evil incarnate.

Great research, read well and kept me gripped until the end *** SPOILER ALERT *** he dies.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful