In preparing this third review of "Crossing Hitler" for approval, it has dawned on me that I may be stepping on toes because of the topics covered it the book: Adolph Hitler, the rise of the Nazi party, antisemitism, and Nazi concentration camps. Please let me assure you that this is not my intention: my evaluation of the "Crossing Hitler" is based upon the book's writing style, historicism, functionality, and enjoyability of reading. That is, I am not giving "Crossing Hitler" a two star review because I disagree with the opinions and political realities discussed in the book, but rather I am giving "Crossing Hitler" a two star review because of (in my opinion) the poor writing style, the questionable historical significance, the lack of relevance, and the boring reading experience. More to the point, if I had not already gotten (as part of the Vine program) and read "Crossing Hitler," I would have appreciated a review that explained who might find the book interesting and, more importantly, what problems existed with the book (even, if such a review was contrary or in defiance to other reviews). If there had been a review that laid out the academic and other problems with the book, I would never had bothered to read "Crossing Hitler." To this end, I am attempting, once again, to write a review that may be helpful to others, yet acceptable to Amazon.
My first two reviews leaned heavily towards explaining the problems I had with the writing style (references, continuity, format, etc.) of "Crossing Hitler." My first review frequently referred to the author (as is done in academic reviews), so I made my comments about the writing style more generalized in the second review, but apparently remained too impersonal, as it was also deemed by Amazon as not abiding by the guidelines they have set out. Therefore, with respect to the writing style of "Crossing Hitler," I will simply state that I found it to be lacking and extremely frustrating. As such, I would think that serious scholars of history would not find this book helpful or interesting. For those who are not concerned with academic rigor, the writing style will most likely be less problematic.
As for the historical significance of "Crossing Hitler," I imagine that this depends upon the readers familiarity of the topic. However, I must emphasize that "Crossing Hitler" IS NOT ABOUT Hans Litten's "cross-examination" of Adolph Hitler as the title and description suggest. Instead, "Crossing Hitler" is a tome about the purported importance of Hans Litten, in part because Hans Litten "had the courage" to call Adolph Hitler to the witness stand. The so called "Hans Litten's Cross-Examination of Adolph Hitler, May 8, 1931," is not a court transcript, but rather a synthesis of the multitude of newspaper articles reporting on the event. The short discussion of the trial in the text of the book, along with this "transcript" (as provided in the appendix), make it clear that the judges, not Hans Litten, did most of the questioning; although the book suggests that Litten "provided" the questions to the judges. As such, in my opinion, "Crossing Hitler" is of no historical significance. And, given that there are other books written that cover the same material, "Crossing Hitler" adds nothing new to the fabric of knowledge (or understanding) of this period in history. On the other hand, if you are unfamiliar with the political environment or with Litten's story, and you don't mind poor writing, "Crossing Hitler" may be of interest to you.
Perhaps a more important question--indeed, for me--is the relevance or functionality of "Crossing Hitler." When I opted for the book, I was assuming that the book contained actual court transcripts and would rely upon other primary documents such as letters, briefs, summations, even memoirs, to analyze this rather unique event, and then explain the relevance to the over all rise of the Nazis in Germany. However, there are, apparently, no primary sources pertaining to the "cross-examination" of Hitler, and the book makes no effort--as I see it--to explain the importance of the "cross-examination." Rather, the book attempts to re-tell the story of a "communistic," "aristocratic," "anti-Nazi" attorney who spent his short career primarily "defending" poor, communist party affiliated criminals. As far as I am concerned, "Crossing Hitler" is a biography of a historically insignificant man, Hans Litten, whose only "claim to fame" is that during one of his "defenses" he was able to convince the criminal court of Berlin to call Adolph Hitler to the stand. This is not to say that this event is not relevant, but rather that the book, "Crossing Hitler," fails to demonstrate its relevancy. Hence, I would imagine that "Crossing Hitler" would appeal to readers interested primarily in biographies of "lesser" known individuals, or to readers looking for a soft core, specialized version of German politics prior to World War II.
For these reasons, and others (which I had in my first two drafts), I found reading "Crossing Hitler" to be anything but enjoyable, interesting, or enlightening. In fact, the only reason I have given the book two stars is because the "Epilogue," the only interesting part of the book, provides information about earlier--yes, this book is NOT the first book on the subject (Litten's mother and friends started writing books in the late 1930s)--works on Hans Litten and events not discussed in detail that have led to admiration of Hans Litten among German attorneys. If you are looking for biographical accounts of this time period--or of Litten, himself--I would suggest the potential reader seek out other books.
If you would like to see my second review of this book (I did not save the first), which details stylistic, academic, and other problems with "Crossing Hitler," please contact me and I would be happy to send you a copy. Also, if you are having problems finding other books I allude to above, I can let you know which ones are available on Amazon; (I also included them in my other reviews).
As always, if this review was not helpful to you, I would appreciate learning the reason(s) so I can improve my reviews. My goal is to provide help to potential buyers, not get into any arguments. So, if you only disagree with my opinion, could you please say so in the comments and not indicate that the review was not helpful. Thanks.