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The Wages of Destruction: The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy Hardcover – 29 Jun 2006

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 832 pages
  • Publisher: Allen Lane (29 Jun 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0713995661
  • ISBN-13: 978-0713995664
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 5.4 x 23.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 61,126 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'...a magnificent demonstration of the explanatory power of
economic history'
-- The Times

'A remarkable book... provocative and immensely readable... a terror epic' -- David Reynolds, author of IN COMMAND OF HISTORY

'Adam Tooze is much to be congratulated' -- Spectator, June 24, 2006

'An unputdownable epic history' -- John Cornwell, author of HITLER'S POPE

'Rejoice, rejoice, for a great historian is born' -- Sunday Telegraph, July 9, 2006

'The Wages of Destruction is a magnificent demonstration of the explanatory power of economics history' -- Times, July 8, 2006

'Virtually every page of this book contains something new and
thought-provoking, making the whole an impressive achievement' -- Michael Burleigh, Sunday Times

'a brilliant tour de force' -- The Herald, June 24, 2006

'powerful and provocative' -- Literary Review, July 1, 2006

From the Publisher

Winner of the 2007 Longman-History Today Book of the Year Prize --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By EnglishLad101 on 8 Jun 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
You look on the back of the book and see a glowing report from Niall Ferguson, and you think, "Wow, this must be really rubbish." But whatever you do, don't let praise from the risible Ferguson put you off, because this really is a game-changing look at Nazi Germany and much more.

So many sacred cows are slain it's hard to keep count, and the blood loss is appalling. Yet Tooze is unperturbed. I like that fact that he humbly keeps mention of findings that overturn the work of other scholars tucked away at the back of the book in the endnotes - and there are many "victims", including famous names. Where he has overturned someone on something, Tooze also uses and praises, if it is possible, other parts of the "victim"'s oeuvre. What I'm trying to say is that this is not an immature and arrogant man who is brimming with false modesty and who enjoys blowing his own horn (unlike, say, Timothy Snyder), but rather someone who enjoys finding things out and who is simply remarking in passing that what he has discovered does not accord with what has come before, and then softens the blow in the best possible way.

The most satisfying outcome of the book is that Nazi Germany - the decisions, the reasoning, the policies - finally... well, finally make sense, and in an overarching way. In achieving this, Tooze makes significant use of Hitler's second book, which was neglected compared with 'Mein Kampf' as events jumped forward. Thanks in part to the spotlighting of the second book, for all his famous incompetence, delusion, and hubris, Hitler is partially refreshed as someone who, despite it all, also had a good grasp of events. Take a standard view, like Hobsbawm's (p.
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58 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Paul T Horgan VINE VOICE on 8 Sep 2007
Format: Paperback
It was Watergate that taught us to Follow The Money. Strangely, few people have done this with the Nazi regime. Although the Third Reich was a major military power by 1939, all the guns, bombs and planes had to be paid for and just because it was a murderous dictatorship, this did not mean that it didn't have to follow a fiscal policy. For instance did you know that Germany stayed on the Gold Standard longer than the USA?

Adam Tooze has authored (I believe) the first major work on the Nazi economy since Alan Millward's of the 1960s/70s. He opposes Millward's thesis of the 'Blitzkreig' economy, geared to fight short continental wars and instead shows an economic policy that lurched from crisis to crisis, that was subverted to one man's wish to dominate the world.

Hitler started rearming Germany from the first day he took office and Tooze shows the remarkable feat that took place in such a short time. Germany, for all its ideology and violence, remained a capitalist economy and apparently the rate at which it rearmed was unprecendented. It is this sheer quantity of armaments that secured victories up to 1941.

Of course all the effort was doomed. Tooze demonstrates that all Hitler did was to start a global arms race. He also shows that Germany was constrained in how much it could rearm by critical shortages of material and workers. Although Germany started first, it would have been overtaken by Britain, France, USA and USSR by the mid-forties. Thus Hitler had no choice but to start his war in 1939. If he had delayed by even a year, then it would have taken less time to defeat him..

Tooze also shows, as have many others, that Albert Speer should have been hanged at Nuremburg.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Alan J. Stedall VINE VOICE on 2 April 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Tooze provides a fresh and insightful description of the way in which the Nazi regime was able to fund and build a war machine which in 1940 smashed the combined forces of Britain, France, Holland and Belgium and, until it met its downfall in 1943 at Stalingrad, appeared invincible.

Of course many works describe this period of history. However, Tooze assists understanding of the inter-woven nature of critical economic and military events , while also challenging commonly held beliefs regarding the period.

I found a number of insights very revealing. Among these:

Once the Nazis commenced to build the industrial base to deliver the military re-armament they sought, they knew they had no other real choice than to go to war, since in the absence of continued demand for military hardware their industrial base would have withered and been unable even to support the weaponry it had already delivered. In other words, once you forge a sword it develops a life of its own - and it demands to be used.

The catastrophic fall of France in 1940 did not result from superior technology on the part of the Germans or even "Blitzkrieg" tactics. It resulted from a brilliant, but high-risk strategy developed by von Manstein that managed to deliver local superiority of strength of German forces in the Ardennes while the bulk of Allied forces moved northwards to meet a feinted German attack on the Netherlands. In this way, as a result of faulty intelligence and incompetence on the part of the Allies, the Germans were able to defeat enemies with a combined total strength greater than their own, while using no better weaponry than their opposition.
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