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Hitler's Vienna: A Dictator's Apprenticeship Hardcover – 6 May 1999

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 490 pages
  • Publisher: OUP USA (6 May 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195125371
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195125375
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 4.1 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 545,735 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


fascinating and impressive (George Steiner, TLS)

About the Author

Brigitte Hamann is a Ph.D. and specialist in 19th and 20th-century history, specifically of Austrian history. She is the author of many books in German, some of which have been translated into English, including The Reluctant Empress: A Biography of Empress Elisabeth of Austria and Bertha vonSuttner. A Life for Peace.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By R. J. Tucker on 19 Sept. 2007
Format: Hardcover
Brigitte Hamann's fascinating trawl through the maelstrom of Viennese political life in the early 20th century sets the scene for the emergence of a new form of virulent racial politics. It's quite astonishing to discover just how overt the racial and ethnic hostilities were during this period of central european history - the perfect forcing ground for aspiring political animals learning the power of rhetoric to manipulate and control the newly enfranchised masses. Hitler couldn't have had a better schooling in the art of demagoguery and political thuggery.

Dr Hamman successfully teases out the various half truths and mythologies concerning young Hitler's sojourn in Vienna and gives a more plausible account of his unorthodox schooling and ideological development. The testimony of various character witnesses are examined to give a more nuanced portrait of the young Hitler and the process whereby this diabolical genius was able to exploit the insecurities and fear engendered by by war and social breakdown.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By deus on 28 Oct. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book starts off talking about Hitler in his last days, and how he reflected upon his youth. Next it starts with Hitler as a child, there are marvelous facts in here. Honestly, this is one of the most detailed and accurate (note the 'accurate') nooks on Hitler's upbringing that you can find in the English language.

It gradually starts to refer to political events at the time, and suddenly the political events seem to make more appearances in the book than what Hitler did himself (with the exception of reading newspapers). Although that is possibly because Hitler's life was without much variation in Vienna, after all she does give detailed account from his roommates and other sources, it could also be because, as stated in the book, the lack of witnesses. It is a great book for both studying Vienna in the 1900s-1910s, also showing how Hitler's ideology may have been shaped in Vienna. She really does use some great sources.

Hamann really questions her sources well, unfortunately the 'conclusion' (final section) seemed a bit short and rushed for me, although that is just me being picky (I'm used to history books with long-winded conclusions that take up to a whole chapter).

Postscript: I also read Kubizek's biography on Hitler before this which had a lot about Hitler's activities, and not much on politics. This might be why I see Hamann's book this way.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Cowley on 23 July 2011
Format: Paperback
Understandably, Brigitte Hamann likes Vienna more than Hitler. She shows us around the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire with great authority and is a Sherlock Holmes for tracking down remnants of Hitler's stay there prior to his move to Munich.

She starts with a long chapter on Hitler's background in provincial Linz. Moving to Vienna, Hamann describes the galleries and operas he attended and the multilingual parliamentary debates that infuriated him. She tells the stories of the politicians Georg Schönerer, leader of the minority Pan-German party and Christian Socialist Karl Lueger whom Hitler sought to emulate. She tells us of his life in the rented rooms and hostels where he stayed; about the ambitions of the trade unionists and lives of the Czech and Jewish communities. This colours in the sketches Hitler gave in Mein Kampf and his friend August Kubizek in The Young Hitler I Knew, from which she draws.

She also speculates on what he read, probably including Houston Stewart Chamberlain's Foundations of the Nineteenth Century, Gustav Le Bon's Psychology of Crowds and perhaps Nietzsche, though she is sceptical of Kubizek on this latter. Perhaps the replacement of physical by social anthropology in our culture has made the influence of Chamberlain hard for us to grasp. My feeling is that she underestimates the influence of Vienna on Hitler. Quibbles and second-guessing apart though, this is an exhaustive, well-written and absorbing book on its subject.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By R Helen on 11 Jun. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a very interesting look at Hitler during his years in Vienna, which clearly had a considerable impact on his later views. Interesting, though, that his rabid anti-semitism seems to have developed only later. The sources for all this, however, are somewhat questionable, as the author admits herself, yet I think she's done a fairly decent job working through them and taking that which is most credible. She also takes pains to clarify some of the more common rumors and misconceptions about Hitler's origins, youth and developing hatred of Jews.

My only real problem with this book is that it seems to either have been translated or written by someone who is not, I would guess, a native English speaker. I don't know if Hamann translated the book from her original in German or she wrote directly into English, but the language and grammar is slightly awkward and can make it difficult to read in some places. And a small pet peeve I have are the few editorial mistakes. She repeatedly refers to Emperor Joseph II as Franz Joseph II which makes no sense at all, considering that the famous Franz Joseph who came later was not Franz Joseph III! Plus, the Emperor Joseph II had many names, but none were Franz. This is common knowledge and very careless editing.
She also mistakenly writes toward the end of the book that the Austrians were the victors in the Battle of Koniggratz, when it is well-known the Prussians were. Again, it is a fairly well-known bit of information to make such a casual mistake.

All in all, however, I think this book is worth reading and definitely gives us greater insight into one of the most evil men in the history of the world.
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