9 of 15 people found the following review helpful
200 pages too long,
This review is from: Himmler: Reichsfuhrer S.S. (Cassell Military Paperbacks) (Paperback)I read John Toland's 1000-plus biography of Hitler and I was enthralled. There isn't a dull page in the whole book, it grabs you and propels you with increasing velocity through the almost unbelievable events, and en route you meet the gang who made the Third Reich possible, and what an unlikely crew they were. Out of all of them, the weird figure of Himmler intrigued me the most. Here was the most mild-mannered, myopic schoolmasterish of men, just the type who'd bore you to death on a long train journey talking about the decline in the correct use of punctuation, or some cranky theory about Freemasonry. And within a few years he became the second most powerful Nazi leader. How? So I hoped that Peter Padfield's huge biography would tell me. Unfortunately this book reads like a first draft, before the editor has got to work. The author can't seem to turn the huge amount of material he has into a readable story. He seems overwhelmed, and so his book plods and becomes tedious.
He has three enormous areas to cover - the SS, the Holocaust, and the War. The empire of the SS was vast and its organisation was extremely complex, not to say confusing. Himmler and the SS were also engaged in various organisational struggles with other Third Reich institutions. So we get a lot of that. And when the War starts, Padfield feels the need to retell it in detail, during which time Himmler is, so to speak, mostly off-stage. And finally the Holocaust is better dealt with in many other books.
As for Himmler himself, the feeling I am left with is the same as when the police finally catch some notorious serial killer - this guy did all that?? Even when you have all the facts, you still don't believe it. I did enjoy (if that's the right word) Padfield's explorations into Himmler's lunatic racist fantasies, which are very chilling indeed because you are always aware that he had the power to put them into practice (and did sometimes). But in the end, this book is about 200 pages too long and it was a disappointment.