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The Dark Charisma of Adolf Hitler [Paperback]

Laurence Rees
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
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Book Description

6 Jun 2013

Adolf Hitler was an unlikely leader - fuelled by hate, incapable of forming normal human relationships, unwilling to debate political issues - and yet he commanded enormous support. So how was it possible that Hitler became such an attractive figure to millions of people? That is the important question at the core of Laurence Rees' new book.

The Holocaust, the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, the outbreak of the Second World War - all these cataclysmic events and more can be laid at Hitler's door. Hitler was a war criminal arguably without precedent in the history of the world. Yet, as many who knew him confirm, Hitler was still able to exert a powerful influence over the people who encountered him.

In this fascinating book to accompany his new BBC series, the acclaimed historian and documentary maker Laurence Rees examines the nature of Hitler's appeal, and reveals the role Hitler's supposed 'charisma' played in his success. Rees' previous work has explored the inner workings of the Nazi state in The Nazis: A Warning from History and the crimes they committed in Auschwitz: The Nazis and the Final Solution. The Charisma of Adolf Hitler is a natural culmination of twenty years of writing and research on the Third Reich, and a remarkable examination of the man and the mind at the heart of it all.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Ebury Press (6 Jun 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0091917654
  • ISBN-13: 978-0091917654
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 12.6 x 3.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 29,560 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"'Laurence Rees asks, as always, the right questions, and provides excellent answers. Blending the oral testimony of contemporaries with documentary evidence, he offers sharp insight into the adulation of Hitler by millions of Germans that underpinned his "charismatic rule"'" (Professor Sir Ian Kershaw)

"Laurence Rees is currently producing the best documentaries ever made about the Nazi era" (Clive James)

"Laurence Rees has done more for good history on television in this country than anyone else. Over several series, he has examined the most terrible aspects of the Second World War with a passionate longing to understand, while rejecting facile moral judgment" (Antony Beevor)

Book Description

A fascinating exploration of the character of Adolf Hitler: the most powerful and destructive man in history. Accompanies the BBC series

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read 3 Oct 2012
I thought this book was excellent. It was not extremely long like other Hitler books, but still long enough that it gives an accurate potrayal of Hitlers life. One of the questions I have always wondered is how a man with such warped views such as Hitler could convince an entire nation to get behind him. This book in my opinion answers this question quite well, with various theories as to why Hitler came to power. Well witten and very informative.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Account of Hitler and his times 9 Oct 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The well written book explores the reasons why a sophisticated and intelligent nation of people could so easily follow a man like Hitler. The book is structured round the concept of Hitler's "Charisma", explaining that the concept is value free, and it explains all the dimensions of his charisma.

The book moves from the, felt to be, unfair settlement after the first world war, to the final days in the bunker. At all times the pace and style of the book is enthralling and I really understood how the German nation were persuaded blindly to follow a despot.

Lawrence Rees writes fluently and in a style that makes the book compelling for anyone with an interest in the topic. He has included excellent research references and the index is comprehensive.

A thoroughly good account , and well written.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Readable and thought provoking 29 Sep 2012
By ttree
This is a very readable portrait of Hitler which can be digested in a few hours. There are times when you might feel the word "charisma" is being shoe-horned into the text to maintain a theme rather than becoming just another biography, but on the whole it works - even if there are occasionally some sweeping conclusions on which bits of some people's testimony we can take at face-value, and which bits we can't.

But Rees has succeeded in writing a book that moves along at a good pace, and he rightly devotes more time to Hitler's rise to power than the 1942-5 era - it's more interesting to learn how such an unpromising individual could somehow emerge as a leader, not just of an extremist movement but of a whole country, persuading large numbers of highly intelligent and seemingly rational people to follow him in blind faith. As Rees observes, Hitler hypnotised no-one. And how he retained power when things went against him is also explored - essentially fear, and a feeling from people that they were already in too deep, are Rees' main conclusions.

Rees doesn't deviate from the familiar view that Hitler's rise was largely a product of political and economic circumstance, but he draws a very effective picture of the dictator's special ability to tell the people what they wanted to hear and to connect with crowds, even though he was often useless in smaller groups, struggled to form relationships and had no debating skill whatsoever. At the same time, he pulls together the narrative threads around this confusing and contradictory character - setting Hitler's charisma against different events as they occurred, and also making observations about his leadership style (and how it differed from the likes of Stalin and Mussolini).

Hitler still emerges as the same appalling character, no matter which angle you view him from. But Rees helps our understanding of how such a man could have succeeded, and that's a useful and thought provoking service for us all.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic! 18 Sep 2012
This is a really wonderful book. It provides an overview of Hitler's dark reign and focuses on his ability to influence and appeal to people. We see a leader who was highly effective primarily because he was in the right place at the right time. After years of recession, spiralling inflation and ineffective government; Hitler seemed to provide the people with what they most craved: a strong man ready to accept responsibility and restore order and respect-few Germans cared precisely how.

Those who have read Rees other books or watched his excellent documentaries, will be familiar with his easy going style. This book is a good introduction to Rees work and provides an excellent analysis of the dictator's pursuasive powers, even for those who have read many books on the Third Reich.

5 Stars!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Evil Charisma 14 April 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The book did not really provide any new insights to Hitler's character with the exception of the dark charisma hypothesis splattered throughout the book . Not convinced by the author's proposition but nevertheless I am glad I read it.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but could have been better 15 Aug 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I bought this book because I am interested in opinion dynamics: how and why opinions in a group of people change over time. I wanted to better understand how and why the evil extremism of Nazism became so widely accepted in the German people, having started out as a tiny minority party, and how the Nazi's grip on their people was maintained until the end. The book definitely focuses on those topics.

It is written in a very readable style, in support of a TV series that I have not seen. The book works very well as a stand-alone text; I didn't feel the need to watch the TV series after I had read this.

I learnt a lot from this book, but there are several respects in which I really wish it had gone into more depth.

Several other reviewers here on Amazon have noted the author's repeated invocation of Hitler's "charisma" as an explanation for how he rose to power and maintained his grip on the people around him -- yet exactly what the nature of that charisma actually involved is not explored in much depth. Repeatedly we're told, often in verbatim quotes from eye-witnesses, that Hitler had a genius for understanding and manipulating mass psychology, but the nature of his skills in this regard are never really explored, and nor is there any decent discussion of how he acquired them.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars New perspective on Hitler's rise and system of personal government
The rise of Nazism told through the device of the unknown Austrian Corporal's progress from demobbed soldier to Chancellor and Head of State. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Conrad Flynn
5.0 out of 5 stars hopefully, not the samy history repeating
What strikes me most of this analysis is the fact that it seems to tell the story of what is happening now in Italy... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Lorenzo Spagna
1.0 out of 5 stars Rees is fiction scritp writer, not a historian.
Lawrence Rees uses intentionally a very weak investigative base with nearly to none of proper documental sources - just look at the end of his books to see how ridiculous the... Read more
Published 6 months ago by HomeMaker
2.0 out of 5 stars Something new, please!
No new insight at all. R H S Stolfi's Hitler book is more interesting in every way - and origional. If you want the 'safe' view of Hitler you will be happy with this, if not read... Read more
Published 6 months ago by neilk
3.0 out of 5 stars Good chronicle of Hitler's role in Germany
It provides good evidence of how Hitler gained power and of the influence he asserted over the German people. Frightening.
Published 7 months ago by M. Martin
4.0 out of 5 stars Perceptive and balanced
A very good insight into the way Hitler, and others manipulated a nation and how the treaty of Versailles and other measures contributed to WW2.
Published 7 months ago by Fazbidge
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark Charisma of Adolf Hitler
Essential reading on the Mind and motivations of the man who became a monster and plunged Europe and the world into war. Read more
Published 7 months ago by MR Paul Dobbs
5.0 out of 5 stars Hitler
I bought this for my husband as part of his xmas gifts. He is very interested in the war and Hitler. I was lucky to get it at the time as it was sold out in many places.
Published 8 months ago by C. J. Colley
4.0 out of 5 stars A well balanced look at a subject that has been covered by many...
This book brought out many interesting facts which gave me an insight into how a nation could be easily entranced by a mad man. Even when the curtain was drawn back to reveal all.
Published 8 months ago by Alan Evitts
4.0 out of 5 stars Adolf Hitler
A very good read and as my normal read is thriller fiction it is a relatively easy read, very well written.
Published 9 months ago by MRS HONORIA A LEWIS
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