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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 16 October 2014
In spite of it's length (over 700 pages), and being a historical autobiography, this book reads as easily as a thriller. Fascinating subject matter, and superbly written. I'd wholeheartedly reccommend it to anyone interested in recent history.

A downside is the book's thickness, which could make it rather fragile - it is a paperback. But It did withstand the stress of me reading it.
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on 27 November 2010
Albert Speer was Hitler's architect and Minister of Arms and Munitions. He was close to Hitler and gives us a glimpse of the man through his life in the years 1933 through 1945. The author wrote this memoir while serving his sentence for war crimes in Spandau prison. A sentence he agreed he deserved though he claims he did not know of the final solution. I will leave that to the reader too decide.

Speer shares what he saw as Hitler's likable traits and as a man who was capable and devoted but later or perhaps reflection in prison Speer felt these traits may have been only superficial. The work Speer did during WWII for the Third Reich was essential for the war machine to function. He claims he did not know that his friend was committing genocide but he willing used the slave labor provided for his factories.

It is mainly a book of the daily routine of the man that shared tea with Hitler and the bureaucracy that was the Third Reich. A bureaucracy that Speer knew how to handle quite well and prospered in. What it took to operate in this government is expressed in detail. The insight on how one could operate in such a regime and be successful in the construction and requisition projects that Speer was involved in. Some may fine these parts too detailed but they give us an insight on the inner workings of the regime.

As in all relationships his view of Hitler changed over time as did his view of the man. But a man is what we are shown through the eyes of the author. Though Speer admits that his country committed war crimes and he took responsibility for his part by accepting the sentence of twenty years he never apologized. As you read I feel he felt though he had a part that he was made a to pay the penalty for those who were either dead or escaped. To his credit at the end of WWII Speer did try and block some of Hitlers policy of total destruction of cities and infrastructure as the Third Reich collapsed around them.
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on 13 September 2010
I have made a study of all facets of the Third Reich, and the life and times of Adolf Hitler, including the observations of his secretaries. This book although it is the memoirs of a single person. It is obvious in his quiet way he was a genius. From being an architect to running the biggest war machine the world has ever seen.Unique.
There is little contradiction between other writers, except his observations on Magda Goebbels as a mother and the Political genius of her husband.
He lays bare the evil influence of Martin Bormannn and the ineffectual but ubiquitous powers of Reichsmarschall Goering. It is also clear from Herr Speer's writings that both Himmler and Goering were acquisitive. He also outlines clearly the inefficiencies of the Gauleiter System.
He makes observations on Bomber Harris how he was so near to victory, but due to his theories about bombing the same places twice as being counter productive.
Speer said that if he had done so, and especially in the Mohne Dams the war would have been shortened by a year.
The human side of Speer is portrayed by the fact that (a) He didn't like workers moved very far from their own environment. (b) Treating forced labour well had its own rewards.
He had a great deal of admiration towards Great Britain and their system, that only children were exempt from the war effort, and how Hitler was too late in recognising this.
The book is incredibly detailed and is a magnum opus on the organisation, or lack of it of the Third Reich.
This is not a quick read, but a seasoned observation of a man who's only crime was being efficient, and oulining Hitler's weakness in being unable to deal with Military Staff from the First World War. He saved Germany from total destruction by taking direct charge of all German factories at the last stages of the war and allowing Germany to have a base for rebuilding.The General Staff upheld his brave stand in intentionally misrepresenting his orders. Fascinating book. IJ
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on 1 March 2015
Undoubtedly an incredibly valuable book, certainly a one off the like of which we'll never see again.

So why only 3 stars?

Well first and foremost, I just didn't find it an engaging or enjoyable book.

Meeting follows meeting, memoranda follows memoranda. Architecture and the logistics of manufacturing form the vast majority of the books hefty 700+ pages and quite frankly a lot of it is just dull. Repeatedly and exhaustively dull.

Its a book which certainly reinforces the idea that, at heart, the Nazis were simply a bunch of power crazed pen pushing beaureaucrats.

Secondly we have the author. Just what are we to make of Speer himself?

I found the almost accidental rise to the very top of the Nazi hierarchy portrayed here rather difficult to believe and can we truly accept Speer's naivety and claims of ignorance (willful?) in respect of forced labour, concentration camps and the holocaust?

Its up to the reader to try and see the wood through the trees and I don't think I quite managed it. I finished the book with more questions than answers about Speer and have to admit it became a bit of a chore towards the end - I felt it went on for almost as long as the war itself!

Overall I'm glad I read this book but can't truthfully recommend it for anything other than research, its not one for enjoyment or relaxation.

5* for its historical value but 3* overall
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on 28 February 2014
Very in depth book, you get a real insight into the Nazi war machine. It's surprising just how much details are in it, especially on big figures of the time. A really good read, however remember this is a big book and not a quick read.
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on 24 October 2013
Although Albert Speer wasn't among the absolute innermost circle of Hitler trustees (maybe only Bormann, Göring, Goebbels, Himmler, Doenitz and a few others could be counted among those), he was nevertheless the highest ranking Third Reich official to open up so extensively in a book after the war.

Starting out as Hitler's favourite architect and the official architect of the Third Reich, he then moved on to become the Armaments and Munitions Reich Minister and thus enjoyed Hitler's full support for most of the war. In this book he details his meteoric rise inside the Third Reich but more than his own story, it is the story of Hitler as seen by Speer. Just like countless others, Speer was mesmerized by Hitler. In hindsight he finds Hitler's speeches banal, his peculiarities eccentric and his physical features unappealing, yet he confesses he never saw any of that in Hitler's presence and was instead spellbound, inspired, emboldened and everything that fired up the Nazis at the time.

Although it has been more than 10 years since I read the book, many of various details and bits of information I read from the book are still fresh in my mind. Overall I found the book extremely enlightening and a treasure trove of inside information about the Third Reich and Hitler in particular. Many of the factoids I read in the book, I have yet to encounter in other sources detailing the Third Reich, so for anyone interested in the Third Reich on more than just a casual level, this book is highly recommended.
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on 9 October 2003
Albert Speer, whose career blossomed during the Third Reich as Hitler's principal architect and culminated as Germany's Minister of Armaments from 1942 to 1945, has produced a rich and fascinating account of his experiences and encounters with many of the infamous personalities of the Nazi state.
For anyone who has even the slightest curiosity about the history of Germany between 1933 and 1945, THIS BOOK WILL HOLD YOU IN THRALL. Speer tells a very powerful and compelling story.
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on 25 March 2013
My other half enjoyed this book the first time round but had left the book abroad. He mentioned that he'd like another copy of it to read again. With the power of t'interweb and the supplier 'bdweuk' he had his book within about a week. bdweuk were mega cheap and also efficient, thank you. As for the book, not my subject but my war expert boyfriend says it is possibly the best book he's read.
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on 13 June 2010
Albert Speer was one of the few repulsive cast of characters sitting in the dock at the Nuremberg Trial who was regarded with any degree of sympathy by those who were there. He was superficially more appealing than the others and his apparent disillusionment with Hitler and his denouncement of Nazi ideology went down well with the court and without doubt helped keep him from joining the fate of his fellow defendants on the scaffold. Many people thought at the time and since that he was lucky not to have been hanged. His later testimony when he became quite a celebrity in the western media and his admission towards the end of his life shows that he knew more than he let on at Nuremberg tends to support this view. He clearly had more knowledge of and involvement in what was happening regarding the use of slave labour and the extermination of the Jews than he admitted when he was questioned at Nuremberg in 1946 and when he wrote Inside the Third Reich in 1970.

Allowing for his bouts of selective amnesia his book is nevertheless a fascinating account of someone who was very close to Hitler and at times you get the impression that he greatly admired his Fuhrer and Hitler had a high regard for Speer and viewed him as a mixture of the architect he never was and the son he never had. Speer was obviously a very intelligent man who was greatly in awe of Hitler and was carried away by the huge amount of power that his association with Hitler gave him. He was smart enough not ask too many questions during the war and looked the other way when it suited him but when Germany faced defeat his admiration for his Fuhrer dried up. He was also smart enough to know how to appeal to the judges at Nuremberg and thus avoid the hangman. His book, written by one of the few surviving members of Hitler's court, is fascinating but the nature of Speer's character always leaves a nasty taste in my mouth.

David Rowland
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on 25 October 2014
Would highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to know more about the rationale behind Hitler's decision making. Provides the reader with an immense insight into exactly what Nazi Germany was like.
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