on 1 July 2005
Peter Conradi's account of the bizarre rise and fall of Hitler's piano player - or maybe we should say 'court jester' - is a riveting and racy read but none the less authoritative for that. Thoroughly researched and up-to-date with the added bonus of direct contacts with the surviving members of the Hanfstaengl family, I read it over a period of a few days and would happily have had another hundred more pages added to its 300 plus. And for people who have had stories of the Nazis 'up-to-here' it's actually more of a human tale, a study of a strange personality - a man whose spent nearly as much time in Britain and America as he did in Germany. So it throws light on a wider world than the narrow Nazi milieu and as I said, it's a tale well-told, which is no less than you would expect from an experienced Sunday Times journalist like Conradi. So many of the recent books covering this period have little new to say or else are a turgid read - this is like a breath of fresh air. If it had included a Chronology, I'd have given it 5 stars: otherwise, it does what it says on the tin!
on 7 May 2013
An excellent account of one of Hitler's lesser known acolytes.Full of drama and pathos, it gives an extraordinary insight into Hitler's inner circle particularly in the early days of the early 1920s. Hanfstaengl comes across as a bizarre but strangely sympathetic character and his story is brilliantly told. Even for those who have read dozens of books on the Nazis this one is full of intriguing nuggets of wholly new information. An excellent read.
on 28 October 2012
This is a very honest biography of E. Hanfstaengl's fascinating and ultimately sad life.In many ways this is also an indispensable book for anyone interested in the Nazi state and in the relationships of its murderous men in control.Unfortunately for those like Dr Hanfstaengl, Winifred Wagner and the like who fell under Hitler's spell, their lack of moral rectitude prevented them to escape the evil opportunities offered to them by the Nazis.
A good and well researched book.
on 2 May 2012
The story of Ernst `Putzi' Hanfstaengl, who worked to make Hitler appear less threatening to the outside world. Putzi came from a wealthy family of art dealers in Munich, was educated in Harvard during the first World War and was attracted to the Nazi party in Munich in the twenties. While never in Hitler's inner circle, he did represent the rising party to the foreign press. He fled Germany after the night of the Long Knives, and eventually worked for the USA submitting psychological reports on Nazi leaders and political analysis of events in Germany.
This should be a fascinating story, and I looked forward to reading it. It should be a chance to analyse Hitler's rise and the machinations of his inner circle. Instead, however, I found it a workmanlike plod through his story. It was never quite clear why he felt he could become a victim of the Night of the Long Knives, he never seemed to be a contender in Hitler's `A-team', nor a threat to the leader; indeed the plot to kill him was pitched to him (afterwards) as a cross between a practical joke and an effort to keep him on his toes - however he had the wisdom to flee and not return to Germany, despite participating in negotiations to do so.
His wartime work in the USA reveal him to have been anti-Semitic and anti-Black, though perhaps only to the extent was which common at the time. The most surprising thing, overall, to me was the survival of the family business through both World Wars and into the 1970's.
In the end this book seems to me to be an opportunity missed, we get Putzi's story, mainly from Putzi's documents, but little analysis or insight of the rise of Nazism, and the nuts and bolts of its propaganda hold on the German people. Pity, there's a better story here