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The Dark Charisma of Adolf Hitler
The Dark Charisma of Adolf Hitler
by Laurence Rees
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £21.03

23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Readable and thought provoking, 29 Sep 2012
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.

The Six Sacred Stones
The Six Sacred Stones
by Matthew Reilly
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Implausible and not even entertaining, 29 Sep 2012
This review is from: The Six Sacred Stones (Paperback)
I'm one of those people who won't easily give up on a book, but I feel I wasted several hours of my life on this badly written thriller. The characters are worse than wooden, the dialogue risible, the situations impossible and the plot ludicrous. It doesn't really help that it's fast-moving - because the journey's pointless.

I'm happy to suspend my disbelief - this is fiction after all - but when it's as badly crafted as this, it's impossible to find the empathy needed to enter anyone's fantasy world. I didn't care what happened to the "characters" (such as they were) and I was dismayed to find on reaching the bitter end that the author is planning to write a sequel.

My advice would be to read the first 20 or so pages and decide if this is the kind of thing you want to spend a few hours of your lifeon. If by that stage you're feeling some of the things I've written above, don't go any further. The world is full of great writing without wasting time. I'm sorry I did.

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