I started reading the book believing it was about something totally the opposite of how it ended. Does that make sense? It begins as a good illustration into just what kind of people enlisted into the Brown Shirts, then the SA, and ultimately, the SS. I thought that was excellent... really getting into the mind of a troubled angry youth that did what thousands of others did. The SA gave the angry, brutish, and the uneducated a place to belong. They just had to sell their souls. That I got. Nagorski's depiction of the main character's mindset I got. The reacton of the main character's wife as she detests his beliefs, I got. It went so well until...well honestly around the time Geli was introduced. It departed its roots and really became a dirty novel with facist undertones. I'm not totally sure exactly what the description of the sexual encounters added to the story, but to each his own.
Maybe it was the main character, himself, that let me down. Another reviewer said it correctly, HE LEARNS NOTHING. After a while it's just outright annoying to see him walk around in the same stupifying haze he began the book in.
The ending, well I don't want to give it away if you plan on reading this book... but it was unexpected. Here, the final departure from what the book initially said it was occurs. You're left with a WTF reaction. Not so much for the sheer climax of the story, but for the "damn it, the book outright lied to me! " type reaction. Again, it may just be me. But really. What the hell? The book ends after the strange and almost silly climax. You have no real idea what the ramifications are.
If you want to read a book with a decent grasp on history with an ok fictional component, this may be worth your while. If you can get over the idiocy of the main character and simply enjoy a piece of well written fiction, read this book. If you have some time to kill, read this book. It's an easy read. I'd borrow it or buy it at a deep discount. Or you will end up like me...not knowing what to do with it after you're done. I almost feel dirty for placing it in the bookcase with my other books. Basically, this book is the reason why I normally do not read historical fiction.