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Customer Review

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A compelling read, 7 Nov. 2009
This review is from: The Third Reich: A New History (Paperback)
I found this book to be a thoroughly compelling read, a superb exposition of the Third Reich. This is by no means an easy read, in terms of length, subject matter and the author's pretentious use of language. I was left in no doubt of the horrors of the Third Reich, not only with the Holocaust, but of the eugenics and euthanasia programmes too. Along with the harrowing account of the Holocaust, subjects include the decline of the Weimar Republic - hated by both left and right wing groups, its massive unemployment and inflation problems - collaboration in Europe, the token resistance to Hitler within Germany, and an account of Nazism's turning Germany in to a police, totalitarian state. This is presented as a "New History", and in some way it is, for me at any rate. In discussing the Holocaust, I was previously unaware of Romania's participation in exterminating the Jews, and the horrors on the Eastern Front - the atrocities committed by the SS, Einsatzgruppen, along with Ukrainian partisans and the Soviet Union come to mind. Although people tend to focus on the evils of the Third Reich, it is important to remember that Stalin was as much a murderer as Hitler. Sadly, a common thread through all this is anti-semitism, even among victims of Nazi aggression.

The book's greatest asset, which makes it stand out, is the constant use of primary sources - accounts of Holocaust survivors, children who had escaped "euthanasia", Jewish victims of the Kristallnacht or general persecution. True to form for the historian's role as an impartial observer, Burleigh also includes accounts of their oppressors, not only hard-core Nazis but also those who joined the Nazi party, SS or other organisations, and were not necessarily card-carrying Nazis.

The reason why this does not get five stars is due to Burleigh's constant use of non-everyday language - I felt this often led to too long sentences, ambiguities in meaning and a sense of "waywardness". I spent half my time, whilst reading the introduction, trying to work out what he was trying to say - complete with a dictionary. The lack of discussion of foreign policy is also a disappointing omission. The Anschluss with Austria and the occupation of the Sudetenland get a brief mention, but I would have liked a chapter on Hitler's foreign policy. After all, foreign policy and the use of force to achieve his aims, was one of Hitler's main preoccupations, so I felt this let the book down a bit.

In conclusion, a recommended read.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 7 Apr 2013 17:43:51 BDT
Paula Thomas says:
I agree; a very annoying book to read. The author seems to be making up his own language as he goes along. Even the dictionary, a constant companion when reading this book, was of little help. Perhaps because it is fairly old, or perhaps. (I refer the reader to the second sentence)
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