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Hitler: A Biography Paperback – 17 Mar 2010

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Product details

  • Paperback: 1030 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (17 Mar. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393337618
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393337617
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 0.5 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,263,114 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ian Kershaw was Professor of Modern History at the University of Sheffield from 1989 - 2008, and is one of the world's leading authorities on Hitler. His books include The 'Hitler Myth', his two volume Hitler 1889-1936: Hubris and Hitler 1936-1945: Nemesis, and Fateful Choices. He was knighted in 2002.

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Amazon Review

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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"An achievement of the very highest order." -- Michael Burleigh "A superb biography." -- Ian Buruma "Kershaw is the indispensable and definitive guide to Hitler, Nazism, and the nation that, for a while, shamefully refracted his evil genius." -- Martin Rubin

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Andres C. Salama on 18 Aug. 2011
Format: Paperback
Ian Kershaw's monumental biography of Adolf Hitler, more than a thousand pages long (previously published as two volumes). It is obviously a very long read, but it is a fascinating story, never boring.

Reading it, what I find most incredible about Hitler's life is how someone who came out of World War I without seemingly any future prospects could become in a few years time one of the most important men of the 20th century, the man responsible for millions of dead in history's bloodiest war. The day Hitler turned 30 years old, April the 20th, 1919, Hitler must have felt an abject failure: his beloved Germany had recently lost the war, Munich was in the hands of the communist Bavarian Soviet Republic (though it seems that Hitler quietly supported the Soviet republic at the time, out of opportunism more than out of belief), if he was going to be discharged soon from the demobilizing army, as it seemed likely, he seemingly had no prospect of any civilian job. Looking at the past, he could have seen how he had failed as an artist, have few friends for the last years, was never able to have a girlfriend. Despite all this, in a few months his life would be changed when as an army spy he joined the little known NSDAP. In a few years time, he would become a national figure, the unquestionable leader of Germany's extreme nationalists. In fourteen years, he would become the leader of Germany.

The book has some good material on Hitler's childhood in conservative, provincial Austria. It is interesting to read how much his mother Klara spoiled him. As a young man, Hitler was lazy and bohemian, never having a regular job. He thought he was a great artist, so he felt crushed when the Art Academy in Vienna rejected twice his application. He was bossy and manipulative toward his few friends.
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195 of 202 people found the following review helpful By Mr. C. Hall on 30 Nov. 2008
Format: Hardcover
Just a brief note: Many of the reviews found on this page are for the book 'Hubris' also by Ian Kershaw which charts the earlier parts of Hitler's life. This book is an unabridged volume containing both 'Hubris' and its follow-up 'Nemesis' and hence covers the whole of Hitler's life. Also, the 'Look Inside' feature offered actually shows you the inside of a totally different book on Hitler. Just thought you should know.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Koetzsch on 5 April 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Even though this is the shortened version of Ian Kershaw's biography on Adolf Hitler I think he does a very good job in covering the life of his subject. If you are looking for all the notes and the extensive bibliography then you should read the two-volume biography - Hitler: 1889-1936: Hubris and Hitler 1936-1945: Nemesis - published in 1998 and 2000 respectively.
If you have previously read the two-volume original you may miss one or the other detail or illustrative example in this "shortened" version but I personally don't think this diminishes this book in any way.

I shall spare you a summary of the subject matter because it would be impossible to do so in any meaningful way. You better read this book yourself. It's all there.

Two things I find incredible about the subject matter though. It is amazing that someone can come out of nowhere and take over a state and then single-mindedly turn the whole world upside down. The other aspect I found amazing is the "working towards the Führer" concept where Hitler's underlings implemented policy according to what they perceived to be the Führer's wishes. This worked perfectly - except in the case of Rudolf Hess who misread the Führer's wishes - and allowed Hitler to pursue his leisure activities.

What I found amusing - although I am not sure if this is the right word to use here - is that Ian Kershaw's publication of the two-volume biography received a rather warm reception in Germany. When William L.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jon 'ET' A on 26 April 2011
Format: Paperback
This was a hugely informative and enjoyable read which told me all that I needed to know about this immensely important individual.

The length of this book (approx. 1000 pages) may be off-putting for some readers, and obviously if you're looking for a brief summary of Hitler's life, then this isn't for you. Despite the enormity of the subject and level of detail given, it wasn't too tough a read, with each chapter broken up into sections to make for easy stopping points. Whilst this is an abridged version of Kershaw's original two-volume work, it was more than enough for me (Readers that want the complete experience can always buy the two-volume version instead).

The new preface explains the author's intentions for this book very well, and I would say that both Hitler's rise to power and his subsequent use of power are masterfully written about. Some parts (the dense politics of his rise to power, for example) were inevitably still complicated to understand, but there were plenty of other monumental moments, such as how close Hitler came to being shot at a protest, to keep reader interest up throughout.

A very rewarding reading experience.
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