Customer Review

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A title's promise unfulfilled., 24 Mar. 2000
This review is from: Explaining Hitler. The Search for the Origins of his Evil (Hardcover)
It is hard to imagine a more important subject for a psychological/historical study. However, despite the title, which promises much, this is essentially a very journalistic-type survey some of the various theories to explain Hitler's Anti-Semitism. Though the views of several eminent historians such as Trevor Rover and Alan Bullock are dealt with, the main emphasis is on more bizarre explanations and theories, especially those which are sexually-oriented. None of the theories discussed deal to any significant extent with the intellectual and political climates in Germany and Austro-Hungary that might have influenced Hitler's development prior to 1919, nor indeed of how his war experiences could have affected him. The primary focus is on Hitler's Anti-Semitism, and other aspects of his character and thinking, are not explored. One is still left wondering, for example, how the social misfit who never appeared to have either the aptitude nor desire to rise beyond Corporal while serving, apparently meritoriously, on the Western front was suddenly transformed, within months of the war's end, into a leader who could attract the support and devotion of men who had been his social, educational and military superiors. Ludendorff may have been a reluctant associate of Hitler in the 1923 Munich Putsch, as the recent Ian Kershaw biography ("Hitler: Hubris 1889 - 1936") reminded us, but the ex-Field Marshal and de-facto dictator was nevertheless prepared to link his fortunes to that of his ex-subordinate. Other strange aspects, such as Hitler's apparently sudden acquisition of oratorical skills and of his understanding of how to manipulate both crowds and individuals are also not touched upon. One also wonders about his reading, and the development of his world-view, which, ultimately, was what launched him on the road to the Second World War. Though many of these questions are perhaps unanswerable in their totality, this book hardly makes a start and, as regards getting an understanding of this demonic personality, comes very far behind Professor Kershaw's splendid work, the second volume of which one now awaits with interest.
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