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The Dark Charisma of Adolf Hitler Hardcover – 13 Sep 2012

4.2 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Ebury Press; 1st Edition edition (13 Sept. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0091917638
  • ISBN-13: 978-0091917630
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 4.2 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 91,323 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Laurence Rees asks, as always, the right questions, and provides excellent answers. Blending the oral testimony of contemporaries with documentary evidence, he offers sharp insight into the adulation of Hitler by millions of Germans that underpinned his "charismatic rule"'" (Professor Sir Ian Kershaw)

"Laurence Rees is currently producing the best documentaries ever made about the Nazi era" (Clive James)

"Laurence Rees has done more for good history on television in this country than anyone else. Over several series, he has examined the most terrible aspects of the Second World War with a passionate longing to understand, while rejecting facile moral judgment" (Antony Beevor)

Book Description

A fascinating exploration of the character of the most powerful and destructive man in history - an insightful book about Hitler to accompany the BBC series

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I thought this book was excellent. It was not extremely long like other Hitler books, but still long enough that it gives an accurate potrayal of Hitlers life. One of the questions I have always wondered is how a man with such warped views such as Hitler could convince an entire nation to get behind him. This book in my opinion answers this question quite well, with various theories as to why Hitler came to power. Well witten and very informative.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I bought this book because I am interested in opinion dynamics: how and why opinions in a group of people change over time. I wanted to better understand how and why the evil extremism of Nazism became so widely accepted in the German people, having started out as a tiny minority party, and how the Nazi's grip on their people was maintained until the end. The book definitely focuses on those topics.

It is written in a very readable style, in support of a TV series that I have not seen. The book works very well as a stand-alone text; I didn't feel the need to watch the TV series after I had read this.

I learnt a lot from this book, but there are several respects in which I really wish it had gone into more depth.

Several other reviewers here on Amazon have noted the author's repeated invocation of Hitler's "charisma" as an explanation for how he rose to power and maintained his grip on the people around him -- yet exactly what the nature of that charisma actually involved is not explored in much depth. Repeatedly we're told, often in verbatim quotes from eye-witnesses, that Hitler had a genius for understanding and manipulating mass psychology, but the nature of his skills in this regard are never really explored, and nor is there any decent discussion of how he acquired them.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a very readable portrait of Hitler which can be digested in a few hours. There are times when you might feel the word "charisma" is being shoe-horned into the text to maintain a theme rather than becoming just another biography, but on the whole it works - even if there are occasionally some sweeping conclusions on which bits of some people's testimony we can take at face-value, and which bits we can't.

But Rees has succeeded in writing a book that moves along at a good pace, and he rightly devotes more time to Hitler's rise to power than the 1942-5 era - it's more interesting to learn how such an unpromising individual could somehow emerge as a leader, not just of an extremist movement but of a whole country, persuading large numbers of highly intelligent and seemingly rational people to follow him in blind faith. As Rees observes, Hitler hypnotised no-one. And how he retained power when things went against him is also explored - essentially fear, and a feeling from people that they were already in too deep, are Rees' main conclusions.

Rees doesn't deviate from the familiar view that Hitler's rise was largely a product of political and economic circumstance, but he draws a very effective picture of the dictator's special ability to tell the people what they wanted to hear and to connect with crowds, even though he was often useless in smaller groups, struggled to form relationships and had no debating skill whatsoever. At the same time, he pulls together the narrative threads around this confusing and contradictory character - setting Hitler's charisma against different events as they occurred, and also making observations about his leadership style (and how it differed from the likes of Stalin and Mussolini).

Hitler still emerges as the same appalling character, no matter which angle you view him from. But Rees helps our understanding of how such a man could have succeeded, and that's a useful and thought provoking service for us all.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The well written book explores the reasons why a sophisticated and intelligent nation of people could so easily follow a man like Hitler. The book is structured round the concept of Hitler's "Charisma", explaining that the concept is value free, and it explains all the dimensions of his charisma.

The book moves from the, felt to be, unfair settlement after the first world war, to the final days in the bunker. At all times the pace and style of the book is enthralling and I really understood how the German nation were persuaded blindly to follow a despot.

Lawrence Rees writes fluently and in a style that makes the book compelling for anyone with an interest in the topic. He has included excellent research references and the index is comprehensive.

A thoroughly good account , and well written.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a really wonderful book. It provides an overview of Hitler's dark reign and focuses on his ability to influence and appeal to people. We see a leader who was highly effective primarily because he was in the right place at the right time. After years of recession, spiralling inflation and ineffective government; Hitler seemed to provide the people with what they most craved: a strong man ready to accept responsibility and restore order and respect-few Germans cared precisely how.

Those who have read Rees other books or watched his excellent documentaries, will be familiar with his easy going style. This book is a good introduction to Rees work and provides an excellent analysis of the dictator's pursuasive powers, even for those who have read many books on the Third Reich.

5 Stars!
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