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Hitler: the Fuhrer and the People (German) Paperback – 24 May 1989


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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Fontana Press; Revised edition edition (24 May 1989)
  • Language: German
  • ISBN-10: 0006861954
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006861959
  • Product Dimensions: 18 x 10.7 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,008,928 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a masterful study that places Hitler in a wider German-speaking cultural perspective, drawing on Kafka, Nietzsche and others but illustrating also how the Fuehrer's genius for distortion and oversimplification enabled him to misappropriate a rich cultural tradition of ideas, enslaving in the process a whole people. Unfortunately, as Professor Stern points out, this tradition was also accompanied by an element of obedience to (particularly military) authority that also added to the Fuehrer's toxic cocktail. 'Heroic' self-assertion may have been the packaging, but Hitlers outlook incorporated, as the author sees it, a death wish that led to indiscriminate annihilation. The evidence he presents to support this theory is compelling. J P Stern was a Czech exile in Britain who fought - and was wounded - on the Allied side in World War Two. Later a professor of German literature, he was uniquely qualified to produce such an insightful and on the whole very readable account. It should surely be reprinted.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 1 review
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Brilliant and Unique 1 Jan. 2010
By James Hissom - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was astonished to see this book hasn't been reviewed already - it's been out and widely used by scholars since 1975 and offers more thoughtful analyses of the Hitler phenomenon in its gracefully written 200 pages than any of the massive, obsessively detailed volumes that keep rolling off the presses. Born in Prague, Stern served in the Czech Army and the RAF during WWII and went on to a stellar academic career with nine well-reviewed publications the last time I looked. In this one, he does a brilliant, compelling job of reconstructing the whole personal-social-cultural-philosophical concatenation that enabled and sustained National Socialism. Methodology ranges from Anglo-American speech-act theory (Ch. 4, "Propaganda as Perlocutionary Act" is just stunning in its import and contemporary relevance)to a kind of critical phenomenology that evokes the immediate life-world of the time and probes the questions of origin and coherence with the imagination and patience of a poet-philosopher. Not even the gifted diarists of this period, like Klemperer and Moltke, convey "what it felt like" so convincingly.

This revised 1990 edition makes good use of the 1986 "Historikerstreit" among German revisonists, the notorious case of David Irving and Hugo Ott's depressing 1988 Heidegger biography, and includes the moving introuction to the samizdat Czech edition. Like Stern, some of the best analysts of the Hitler phenomenon are the ones who knew it eye-to-eye: Conrad Heiden in Der Fuehrer and even the much-maligned Hermann Rauschning in The Revolution of Nihilism. (Ron Rosenbaum's Explaining Hitler is a smart contemporary overview and less painful to read by virtue of its distance from events.) In the end, though, I'd put this at the head of the reading list for anyone seeking a wise and humane guide to the tragedy and lessons of the Hitler era.
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