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1938: Hitler's Gamble [Hardcover]

Giles MacDonogh
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
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Book Description

25 Jun 2009
In this masterly new work, acclaimed historian Giles MacDonogh explores the moment when Hitler gambled everything. Until 1938, Hitler could be dismissed as a ruthless but efficient dictator, a problem to Germany alone; after 1938 he was clearly a threat to the entire world. In that year The Third Reich came of age and the Führer showed his hand – bringing Germany into line with Nazi ideology and revealing long-held plans to take back those parts of Europe lost to ‘Greater Germany’ after the First World War. The sequence of events began in January with the purging of the army, and escalated with the merger with Austria - the Anschluss, and the first persecutions of Viennese Jewry. In the following months Hitler moulded the nation to his will. Elections brought him a 99 per cent approval rating. MacDonogh gives a full account of the nationalist opposition that failed to topple Hitler in September 1938. By the end of the year the brutal reality of the Nazi regime was revealed by Joseph Goebbels in Kristallnacht, a nationwide assault on Germany’s native Jewish population. MacDonogh’s access to many new sources gives insights into what life was like under the eye of the regime, revealing the role of the Anglican Church after the Anschluss, saving those Jews who were willing to convert, and also the Kendrick Affair – the still-secret details of the Austrian double agent who brought down the whole MI6 operation in Austria and Germany, just as the Chamberlain government began negotiations with Hitler at Munich. A remarkable and revealing account of Hitler’s opening moves to war. Praise for After the Reich: ‘He has a profound understanding of Germany, which he communicates in a humane and engaging style... a remarkable book.’ Michael Burleigh ‘Brings together many stories that deserve to be much better known.’ Max Hastings, Sunday Times ‘It is not only a fascinating story but a unique and valuable historical document.’ New York Review of Books ‘Macdonogh's eloquent account of the suffering of these people is, hopefully, able to evoke strong feelings of both revulsion and compassion from most readers’ Booklist [A] superb book written by a sympathetic writer in perfect control of his often dreadful material. Overall, MacDonogh has told a story that had to be told and told it very well.’ History Today ‘A gruelling but important book.’ Sunday Telegraph

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Constable (25 Jun 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845298454
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845298456
  • Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 851,593 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Giles MacDonogh is a British writer, historian and translator. His blog may be read on www.MacDonogh.co.uk

He has worked as a journalist most notably for the Financial Times (1988 - 2003), where he covered food, drink and a variety of other subjects. He has also contributed to most of the other important British newspapers, and is a regular contributor to the Times. As a historian, MacDonogh concentrates on central Europe, principally Germany.

He was educated at the City of London School and Balliol College, Oxford, where he read modern history. He later carried out historical research at the École pratique des hautes études in Paris.

MacDonogh is the author of fourteen books, chiefly about German history, but also on gastronomy and wine. In 1988 he won a Glenfiddich Special Award for his first book A Palate in Revolution (Robin Clark) and was short listed for the André Simon Award. His books have been translated into French, Italian, Spanish, German, Chinese, Slovakian, Russian, Bulgarian and Polish.

Writing in the Spectator Magazine, Graham Stewart said "Giles MacDonogh has repeatedly shown himself to be in the front rank of British scholars of German history. The depth of his human understanding, the judiciousness of his pickings from source material and the quality of his writing make this book at once gripping and grave. Graham Stewart, playing for high stakes, Spectator Magazine, 15 August 2009.
His latest book is The Great Battles (Quercus 2010).

Product Description


Excellent. --Literary Review

A masterpiece of extreme emotion held in check... moving and searing --Telegraph

Book Description

A masterly new work explores the moment when Hitler’s mask fell.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
3.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not You Average Historical Narrative 5 Jun 2010
This book is not your usual historical treatise but more of an historical memoir. It is a memoir of the year 1938 in Central Europe. Unlike a good history which is an accounting of what happened during a specific time, a memoir is much more opinionated (and brother, MacDonogh has enough for two books). In this case we get to see the 'other' side of history, the parts that are usually left out of the "history books". The reporting on Hitler's moods, many taken from the diaries of his 'inner circle' give a better idea of not only what Hitler was thinking but how he came to his opinions. After the Anschluss he felt that he was infallible (move over Pope Pius XI) and that the 'old line' Generals were a bunch of 'old woman'.

One of the more interesting sidelights of the book is the feuds between Goring and Ribbentrop and Himmler and Goebels. The Propaganda Minister was constantly in hot water for cheating on his wife, the Fuhrer turns out to be quite the prude. On the other hand we have Goring trying to put into his Four Year Plan to gear up the Third Reich for war production, while Hitler is dreaming of rebuilding Berlin and Linz. Goring goes into eclipse over the 'war' for the Sudetenland. Goring knows that the army is not ready but Ribbentrop is there egging on the Fuhrer. When the British cave in to his 'demands', Goring and the Generals are left with egg on their faces.

The marginalization of first the German and then Austrian Jews, while everyone in the world turns their backs is the most powerful image of the book. Little by little, week by week, Jews lose more and more civil rights, the right to ownership of businesses, buildings, livelihoods, while they are expected to pay their way out of the Greater Reich and into other countries.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars HITLER'S GAMBLE 17 Mar 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Although not able to match the classic 1938 book - On Borrowed Time - this is nevertheless a book worth reading. It has revelations concerning the pecking order in Hitler's inner ' court' as well as statistics to make your head swim. The author has certainly done his research and has family reasons for wanting to explore this important year. However, it lacks something in its narrative drive: I never felt compelled to turn the page, although many of its pages were rewarding with the insight and information they contained.
I thought I knew all about this momentous year but I was wrong; there was a lot of new material which made me slightly alter my perspective on the period. Whereas
other books I have read covering this period have had Chamberlain as the central character, this one has Hitler's acolytes and the persecuted Jews as its main subjects,banishing Chamberlain to the periphery. Sometimes whilst reading some detailed passages, I felt I was being bludgeoned with a blunt instrument. Nevertheless, I would recommend this book to genuine students of this most fateful of years in European history.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Just another way to sell a book on Nazis 11 Oct 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I have read hundreds of books on the period over 40 years and there is nothing at all new in this one. That 1938 was a gamble for Hitler in some way that any scholar of the period may not have already surmised, is simply not revealed. The book merely takes one year and explains what dozens of authors have in one way or another already covered.

Perhaps it's fair to say that it is slightly novel to look at 1938 from a single focus, but don't expect to read anything new.

It is well written and easy to get through, form that point if view it makes a good read.
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