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Hitler [Kindle Edition]

Ian Kershaw
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Is there anything fresh to be said about Hitler? He is an icon, maybe the icon, of the 20th century. He was a failed artist with Wagnerian fantasies, a slob who could not get up in the morning, but he exposed the frailties of modern civilisation in a way that should still make us giddy. How? Was it his doing, or German society's?

Professor Ian Kershaw has produced a work of definitive scholarship that will be the standard for years to come. It was badly needed; since Alan Bullock's 1952 classic Hitler: A Study In Tyranny and Joachim Fest's Hitler (originally published in 1973) there has been much valuable research, all of which Kershaw seems to have read (there are 200 pages of notes). Add to this the media (and, by extension, public) fascination with the nature of evil, and a resurgent interest in right-wing groups, and this book becomes long overdue.

Kershaw deals rigorously with the bones of his subject's life. He has no truck with psychological padding, and calmly demolishes most of the quasi-facts that have sprung up--if in doubt, he allows space within the chronology. His description of the path to the Chancellorship, which was always more messy than messianic, is painful to behold but gripping to follow, and concludes in 1936 with Hitler at the height of his "Hubris".

This is an important study of the character of power, as clearly written as it is intellectually engaging. --David Vincent


Supersedes all previous accounts. It is the sort of masterly biography that only a first-rate historian can write (David Cannadine Observer)

The Hitler biography for the twenty-first century (Richard Evans Sunday Telegraph)

I cannot imagine a better biography of this great tyrant emerging for a long while (Jeremy Paxman)

Magisterial ... anyone who wishes to understand the Third Reich must read Kershaw, for no one has done more to lay bare Hitler's morbid psyche (Niall Ferguson Sunday Telegraph)

For the present generation, Kershaw's Hitler stands out as a clear beacon of truth, illuminating a dark age of terror and mendacity (Craig Brown Mail on Sunday)

The definitive biography of the Führer (Juliet Gardiner Sunday Times)

An achievement of the very highest order (Michael Burleigh Financial Times)

Mesmerizing ... presents the twentieth century's most controversial life in a single sweep (Michael Kerrigan Scotsman)


Now at last in a single, abridged volume the definitive life.

When the two volumes of Ian Kershaw's biography of Hitler, Hitler 1889-1936: Hubris and Hitler 1936-1945: Nemesis were published, they were immediately greeted around the world as the essential works on perhaps the most malign figure ever to hold power in modern Europe. In the face of considerable demand for such an edition, Kershaw has now created a single volume version. The result is a frightening, fascinating narrative of how a bitter provincial failure from an obscure corner of Austria rose to unparalleled power; how the half-baked, contemptible ideas of a vagrant former art student coalesced into an ideology that for twelve horrific years shaped the fate of millions; and how both in his determination to impose his will militarily and to fend off his many enemies he unleashed a genocidal Armageddon.

No one individual can stand in as the scapegoat for the vast social, technological, economic and military forces that shape our societies but if ever there was one man whose ideas and personality shaped and cowed those forces, as well as embodying them, it was Hitler. This is his story and Kershaw tells it with unique authority, and with moral anger.


Kershaw presents an understanding of Hitler and of the sequence of events which allowed a misfit to climb to the leadership of Germany. As Hitler's pitiful fantasy of being Germany's saviour attracted more and more support, Kershaw conveys why so many Germans adored and connived with him or felt powerless to resist him.


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 In this now classic account, Ian Kershaw takes an innovative approach to the Hitler story. By putting forward the idea of Hitler as a 'charismatic leader' Kershaw tries to find answers to the questions of why Hitler of all the nationalist-racist fanatics with roughly similar views in Germany after the First World War should find such appeal, how such an unlikely figure as Hitler could come to wield such extraordinary personalised power, what his personal role in the shaping of policy amounted to, and whether he was indeed personally directing policy and taking the key decisions down to the very end. Hitler is portayed by Kershaw as a social product, not a demonic figure. He is depicted as the product of a society at a particular conjuncture - a society gripped by an extraordinary and comprehensive crisis of values, an overwhelming cultural as well as political, social and economic crisis. In the fourteen years that follwed the end of the First World War, he gradually emerged as the mouthpiece of the nationalist masses and eventually transformed himself into what over thirteen million Germans saw as the hope of national salvation. Ian Kershaw offers original insights into how Hitler 'became possible' and paints a compelling portrait of dictatorial power.  
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Ian Kershaw is Professor of Modern History at the University of Sheffield. He has written widely on Hitler and the Third Reich and is author of the now definitive comprehensive two volume biography Hitler, 1889-1936: Hubris (1998) and Hitler, 1936-1945: Nemesis (2000). In addition to his publications, he was consultant to the BAFTA-winning BBC TV series The Nazis: A Warning from History, to the BBC2 programme War of the Century, to ZDF's Hitler: eine Bilanz and to ZDF's series in preparation on the Holocaust.   Also available from Longman History: The Origins of the Second World War in Europe, 2nd Ed.P.M.H. Bell The Origins of the First World War in Europe, 2nd Ed.James Joll     
Back of Jacket

'this short book ought to be read by everybody with any interest, whether general or specialized, in Hitler and the Third Reich.'History
 'This is a book that contributes far more to our understanding of Hitler's power than any of the sensational biographies that hit the bookshops with such depressing regularity'Jewish Chronicle  Hitler was without doubt the most destructively influential figure of the twentieth century.  This hugely successful volume is not a conventional biography of Hitler. By looking at the nature and mechanics, the character and exercise, of Hitler's dictatorial power it has become influential in helping to understand more fully the extraordinary story of how Hitler could emerge from total obscurity to gain such popularity within Germany, unleash a new World War, and instigate the most terrible genocide yet known to mankind.

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

IAN KERSHAW is the author of Hitler 1889-1936: Hubris; Hitler 1936-1945: Nemesis; Making Friends with Hitler; and Fateful Choices: Ten Decisions that Changed the World, 1940-4. Hitler 1936-1945: Nemesis received the Wolfson History Prize and the Bruno Kreisky Prize in Austria for Political Book of the Year, and was joint winner of the inaugural British Academy Book Prize. Until his retirement in 2008, Ian Kershaw was Professor of Modern History at the University of Sheffield. For services to history he was given the German award of the Federal Cross of Merit in 1994. He was knighted in 2002 and awarded the Norton Medlicott Medal by the Historical Association in 2004. He is a Fellow of the British Academy.
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