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Life and Death of Adolf Hitler (Dorset Press Reprints) [Hardcover]

Robert Payne
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 636 pages
  • Publisher: Barnes & Noble Inc; New edition edition (1 April 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0880294027
  • ISBN-13: 978-0880294027
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 16.3 x 5.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,808,454 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life of Adolf Hitler 30 Mar 2004
Up until "the night of the long knives" AH is portrayed in a good light, having a well balanced character and of great intelect. However after this date something changed, as he changed into a monster, pocessor of great evil. This is the AH people remember.
Like all political views National Socialism is ideal in principle as is some aspects of communism, but in the wrong hands it is disasterous. As AH explains in this book "all revolutions devour their own children" AH.
Till his death he was vicious towards cowards and conspiritors, and beleived what he was doing was for the better of the Reich.
All in all an excellent inspiring well balanced biography and a must read if you want to know the truth about AH and National Socialism.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.6 out of 5 stars  13 reviews
44 of 48 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Very Flawed Book, but with some merit. 22 Aug 2000
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Thomas Payne, while well-meaning and by no means a "revisionist" conspiracy theorist, had written what can best be described as a work of fiction.
Mr. Payne is not out to lie or decieve. But there are many parts of his book which, we now know (and he could have known when he wrote his book) that are based not on actual fact, but on bogus, sensational "biographies" of Hitler which have nothing to do with the truth. The problem with biographies of Hitler is that, being as close as humanely possible to absolute evil, one readily believes ANYTHING bad about Hitler. But it just ain't so in some cases.
1). Hitler as a lazy, dirty beggar in Vienna: Yes, Hitler WAS down-and-out in Vienna. But the description of the dirty, lazy beggar is lifted from one of the first bogus "biographies" of Hitler, by one Mr. Hanish, "I WAS HITLER'S FRIEND" from the 1930's. Hanish claims to have known Hitler in early Vienna - but facts prove otherwise; Arno Kubitzek, who really WAS Hitler's friend at the same (and slightly earlier) period, contradicts Hanish, and records also show that at the period Hanish supposedly "knew" Hitler as a pennyless beggar, he was living rather comfortably on his orphan's pension and the small inheritence he was left by his parents. The whole account of the period, which generally quotes Hanish, has all the touches of a melodramatic "made-for-TV" biography. Hitler is not only down-and-out, but "a figure rarely seen amoung christians" in his dereliction. He is not only supposedly helped with old clothes by kind merchants, but (what else?) by JEWISH merchants (I mean, where is the irony factor otherwise?), and so on. But it just ain't so.
2). Hitler's "visit" to England in 1911/12: this is complete fiction. It is lifted from another fake "biography" of Hitler, ghost-written as if by Hitler's sister-in-law, Bridgit [sp?] Hitler, who was married to Adolf's half-brother Alois Jr. According to this book Hitler visited Liverpool for almost a year and became (what else?) a burden on everybody, until he left back to Germany after a row with his brother. In fact, police reocrds show that at the time Hitler was supposedly "visiting" Liverpool (of all places) he was in fact living in Vienna.
The annoying thing about these two episode is that Payne adds insult to injury: not only does he rely on fictional accounts, but he makes far-reaching conclusions of the usual pop-psychology sort about the "origin of Hitler's evil" based on Hitler's "bad behavior" on these (fictional) occasions.
3). A "meeting" between the Soviets and Germans in 1943 in German-occupied territory: A whole chapter is devoted to this supposed "meeting". It never happened, as we now know for sure after the soviet archives had opened.
4). Hitler's suicide: Payne prints a photograph of "Hitler's" body, supposedly clutching a picture of his mother (!). This photograph came straight out of end-of-the-war time tabloid sensationalist press. It is now well-known that it is not a photograph of Hitler's body at all, but simply of a slightly similar man with a mustasche.
In conclusion, Payne does some basic research reasonably well, but one must say that his work must be read with great caution. You never know when Payne will swallow hook, line, and sinker one of the outrageous claims made about Hitler by bogus biographers, and present it as gospel truth.
21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Flawed --and Fabulous 29 Nov 2006
By M. G Watson - Published on
I was surprised and a bit disappointed to see all the negative reactions here to Robert Payne's fine work on Hitler - in my opinion the most readable and enjoyable of the English-language biographies on that infamous tyrant. I respectfully submit that some of my fellow readers were too busy taking issue with its flaws to see its intrinsic genius.

It is of course undeniably true that there are several glaring errors in Payne's research on Hitler which were exposed by subsequent biographers; it is equally true that he relied very heavily on source material of dubious authenticity to fill in various gaps in Hitler's life. Payne devotes an entire chapter to Hitler's visit to England in the early 1900s, a visit which apparently never happened; he also writes extensively on secret negotiations between Germany and the USSR which supposedly took place in 1943 and which also may never have occurred. These mistakes (and others) are glaring and embarrassing, but readers would do well to remember that Payne was writing in 1968, long before the collapse of East Germany and the Soviet Union, and had much more restricted access to documents than did, for example, Ian Kershaw. He was also trying much harder to paint a picture of Adolf Hitler, the human being, than was Kershaw, Bullock, or Toland, who were more concerned with trying to weave Hitler's life into the fabric of his times - i.e. to tell the "whole story" of the Nazi era.

It is in this last category - Hitler the person - that Payne succeeds where the others often falter. If his details occasionally stray into the erroneous, his reconstruction of Hitler's youth in Braunau and Linz, his self-imposed misery in Vienna, his life as a soldier during the Great War, and the tumultuous early days of the National Socialist movement are all brought to life with the vividness of a novel. Payne may only be a second-tier historian, but he has the gift, as does John Keegan, of using prose to elevate facts, figures, dates and events into the realms the dramatic. He brings to life in vivid terms the beer-hall brawls, the back-room deals, the raucous political rallies, and the frequent moments of despair which often gripped the movement as it struggled for power, never letting us lose sight of the man who was behind it all. Kershaw is a masterful researcher, but like many historians he lags in the writing department, and his massive two-volume work on Hitler (which has become the standard in English-speaking countries) while exhaustive, never really put me in Hitler's shoes. Bullock had advanced writing and researching skills, but he was more interested in mapping out the era than in understanding the man. And Toland offered nothing more than a detailed timeline that never once attempted to penetrate Hitler's soul.

The defects in Payne's work are indeed serious, but so long as one doesn't use THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ADOLF HITLER as the sole source of his knowledge on the subject, I would recommend it highly for people who are interested in achieving a personal understanding one of the most enigmatic and terrible men in history.
21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dated and embarrassingly inaccurate 29 Feb 2004
By Candace Scott - Published on
This was number one on the New York Times bestseller list for nine weeks when it was released in 1973. I read it as a child and enjoyed it, but I didn't realize as a 10-year-old that it was laden with ridiculous errors. Payne writes well, but entire chapters are completely fabricated, thus making the book worthless. A salient example is chapter 6 where Hitler makes a year-long visit to Liverpool to visit his brother. This is the most embarrassing idiocy to ever appear in a Hitler biography (and there's loads of competition for this dubious distinction).
Hitler was never in England, as his apartment records clearly show from Vienna. Payne relies upon discredited sources again and again, such as William Patrick Hitler and Kurt Krueger, invented Hitler psychiatrist.
The book is good for a few laughs, nothing more. It's aged dreadfully and its errors become more ludicrous as the years past. If you want a solid, reliable and definitive biography of Hitler, consult John Toland's 1977 masterpiece.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars payne gives me "pain" while reading book 10 Aug 2002
By A Customer - Published on
Although this book showed the reader that Payne knew the topic of Adolf Hitler well, the reader begins to wonder where Payne acquires all of this information, for he rarely credited his sources.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars FACT or FICTION? 15 Jun 2002
By anna - Published on
Format:Unknown Binding
Definitely an interesting read. My only question is "how much can one believe?" Good advice, by the way, to ALL students of history: Just because it's printed doesn't make it "FACT". What I did like, however, was that Payne explored a little-known "rumor" about Hitler's supposed 6-month stay in Liverpool (yet it brings one back to the original dilemma-- where did the author get his facts from?) Reader beware.
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