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Hitler's Piano Player: The Rise and Fall of Ernst Hanfstaengl [Paperback]

Peter J. Conradi
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

23 Feb 2006
Ernst Hanfstaengl was court jester, pianist, and foreign press chief for Hitler, he even claimed to have devised the chant of Sieg Heil, but when the two men fell out he fled to Britain, where he was interned and transferred to America. There he worked as the star of Roosevelt's 'S-Project,' informing on 400 leading Nazis and creating a detailed psychological portrait of Hitler. Through newly declassified documents, interviews with surviving family members and original writing by Hanfstaengl himself, Peter Conradi recounts a remarkable life.

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Hitler's Piano Player: The Rise and Fall of Ernst Hanfstaengl + Hitler: The Memoir of the Nazi Insider Who Turned Against the Fuhrer
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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Gerald Duckworth & Co Ltd (23 Feb 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 071563528X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0715635285
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 703,644 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


All the elements of a gripping thriller ... this well-written, non-judgmental biography perfectly captures Putzi’s predicament -- Guardian

An exemplary piece of biographical writing, Hitler’s Piano Player is packed with colour and character -- Independent

Fills in some fascinating detail about this bizarre figure … gives us a wealth of enjoyable anecdotes -- Financial Times

Wholly entertaining -- Observer

About the Author

Peter Conradi is the author of The Red Ripper: Inside the Mind of Russia's Most Brutal Serial Killer, and Mad Vlad: Vladimir Zhirinovsky and the New Russian Nationalism. He is Deputy Foreign Editor for the Sunday Times. He lives in Stockwell, in South London.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Perfectly in tune 1 July 2005
By A Customer
Peter Conradi's account of the bizarre rise and fall of Hitler's piano player - or maybe we should say 'court jester' - is a riveting and racy read but none the less authoritative for that. Thoroughly researched and up-to-date with the added bonus of direct contacts with the surviving members of the Hanfstaengl family, I read it over a period of a few days and would happily have had another hundred more pages added to its 300 plus. And for people who have had stories of the Nazis 'up-to-here' it's actually more of a human tale, a study of a strange personality - a man whose spent nearly as much time in Britain and America as he did in Germany. So it throws light on a wider world than the narrow Nazi milieu and as I said, it's a tale well-told, which is no less than you would expect from an experienced Sunday Times journalist like Conradi. So many of the recent books covering this period have little new to say or else are a turgid read - this is like a breath of fresh air. If it had included a Chronology, I'd have given it 5 stars: otherwise, it does what it says on the tin!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Virtuoso performance 7 May 2013
An excellent account of one of Hitler's lesser known acolytes.Full of drama and pathos, it gives an extraordinary insight into Hitler's inner circle particularly in the early days of the early 1920s. Hanfstaengl comes across as a bizarre but strangely sympathetic character and his story is brilliantly told. Even for those who have read dozens of books on the Nazis this one is full of intriguing nuggets of wholly new information. An excellent read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book gives the reader a unique insight into Hitler's social connections and helps explains the unfortunate circumstances which assisted Hitler's rise to the top
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4.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating tale 28 Oct 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a very honest biography of E. Hanfstaengl's fascinating and ultimately sad life.In many ways this is also an indispensable book for anyone interested in the Nazi state and in the relationships of its murderous men in control.Unfortunately for those like Dr Hanfstaengl, Winifred Wagner and the like who fell under Hitler's spell, their lack of moral rectitude prevented them to escape the evil opportunities offered to them by the Nazis.
A good and well researched book.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The story of Ernst `Putzi' Hanfstaengl, who worked to make Hitler appear less threatening to the outside world. Putzi came from a wealthy family of art dealers in Munich, was educated in Harvard during the first World War and was attracted to the Nazi party in Munich in the twenties. While never in Hitler's inner circle, he did represent the rising party to the foreign press. He fled Germany after the night of the Long Knives, and eventually worked for the USA submitting psychological reports on Nazi leaders and political analysis of events in Germany.
This should be a fascinating story, and I looked forward to reading it. It should be a chance to analyse Hitler's rise and the machinations of his inner circle. Instead, however, I found it a workmanlike plod through his story. It was never quite clear why he felt he could become a victim of the Night of the Long Knives, he never seemed to be a contender in Hitler's `A-team', nor a threat to the leader; indeed the plot to kill him was pitched to him (afterwards) as a cross between a practical joke and an effort to keep him on his toes - however he had the wisdom to flee and not return to Germany, despite participating in negotiations to do so.
His wartime work in the USA reveal him to have been anti-Semitic and anti-Black, though perhaps only to the extent was which common at the time. The most surprising thing, overall, to me was the survival of the family business through both World Wars and into the 1970's.
In the end this book seems to me to be an opportunity missed, we get Putzi's story, mainly from Putzi's documents, but little analysis or insight of the rise of Nazism, and the nuts and bolts of its propaganda hold on the German people. Pity, there's a better story here
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