'Brilliantly written and researched, The Last Days of Hitler remains the most vivid account of the final Wagnerian chapter of Hitler's tyranny' Max Hastings
The book is a quick read - only 220 pages from start to the end of the epilogue - but almost the most enjoyable bits are the prologues which have gradually built up through the many editions of this book. It can be annoying if you read the book through from the first page to the last, as much of what is in the prologue draws its significance from what follows in the main text, but the fifty page introduction to the third edition is invaluable as it explains the fate of Martin Bormann. But it is well worth the perservance and the reader is richly rewarded for making his/her way through the text.
One criticism: Trevor-Roper suffers from a touch of academic smugness. He is keen to point out that his book has now been in print for fifty-five years and that the substantial new disclosures made in the mid-fifties only served to confirm his version of the truth. He is quick to rubbish his opponents and those who don't agree with his conclusions and can seem heavy-handed and judgemental on the eyewitnesses' recall of facts (especially in his tersely worded footnotes). But in the context of his writing and evident ability, he can perhaps be forgiven this: his book was written, as he tells us, to forestall the development of a Hitler Myth. When writing about something so important, one can scarcely be (and Trevor-Roper certainly is not) magnanimous to one's opponents, for every chink in one's confidence is bound to be exploited for the promotion of a falsehood.
If you can read around this occasional misgiving, you'll find a gripping read and fantastically lucid account of the end of Hitler. Highly recommended.
Trevor-Roper paints a remarkable picture of Hitler's life in the bunker, surrounded by a bizarre cast of characters such as fawning generals, quack doctors, loyal retainers and the very sinister Martin Bormann. However the most vivid character is Armaments minister Albert Speer whose inner confusion and refusal to destroy the Germany that Hitler now despised dominates most of the book.
This is first class history, packed with eyewitness accounts (including proof that Bormann died not far from the bunker - forget all those theories about him escaping to Brazil) and explanations of what motivated the people involved and why they acted as they did.
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