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Indespensible to Any Serious Study of World War II,
This review is from: Hitler: A Study in Tyranny (Paperback)
No study of World War II is complete without an understanding of the man most responsible for its origin and its course, Adoph Hitler. "Hitler: A Study in Tyranny" by Alan Bullock is the best source I have found on this topic thus far. This book examines its subject from his inconspicuous Austrian birth to his world changing death in the bunker in Berlin. As indicated by the subtitle, "Hitler" is truly a study, not merely a biography. It tells the story of his life and examines his beliefs, hopes and fears as well as the environments that formed them.
Growing up in the polyglot Austro-Hungarian Empire, Hitler became a German nationalist who resented the upstart Czechs and other races who were demanding their place in the Hapsburg sun. We read of the indifferent student who lived the vagabond life of an unsuccessful artist in Vienna before becoming a Bavarian sergeant who was shot and gassed in World War I. It was out of the disillusionment with the post-war world and Germany's place in it that Hitler found a purpose and a cause to devote his life to. This Hitler the politician and author would attract collaborators who would be his liege men for life before drawing a major world power into his grasp.
On these pages the reader becomes acquainted with the Beer Hall Putsch, his involvement with political movements, his rise in those organizations and the milieu in which he worked his way to supreme power. Here we meet the magnificent politician who could outmaneuver his domestic rivals and outguess his generals in predicting the reactions of foreign leaders to his aggressive advances. In the Rhineland, Austria, the Sudetenland and Czechoslovakia Hitler knew that Britain and France would not march. In these bloodless victories he laid the groundwork for his ultimate goals outlined in his book, "Mein Kampf": all German people united in one Reich with Lebensraum, living space for all. Hitler saw the role of Eastern Europeans as that of workers for their German masters. Ultimately the confidence built up over years of conquest would be his undoing when his luck ran out in the snows of Russia and the forests of the Ardennes.
The Hitler who emerges is a man with a vision, a plan to achieve it and the energy and talent to almost bring it about. His dreams and his hatreds are depicted as true beliefs, not mere political opportunism. He is seen as a man who went into politics to do something, more than to be somebody.
The world in which Hitler lived is a different one from that which we know. He lived in a world in which a public speaker could openly speak of an ethnic group as a problem without veiling it in coded language and in which a demagogue could openly denigrate democracy rather than redefine it in his image.
The book is well written and skillfully utilizes a wide range of sources. One thing I particularly like about this work is that it permits the reader to sample selections from Mein Kampf without the need to plod through the whole book. Before reading this book I knew a lot about World War II, but now I also understand a lot more about its paramount villain. "Hitler" is indispensible to any serious study of World War II.