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Hitler 1889-1936: Hubris Paperback – 25 Oct 2001

4.2 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 880 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (25 Oct. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140133631
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140133639
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 28,045 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Amazon Review

Is there anything fresh to be said about Hitler? He is an icon, maybe the icon, of the 20th century. He was a failed artist with Wagnerian fantasies, a slob who could not get up in the morning, but he exposed the frailties of modern civilisation in a way that should still make us giddy. How? Was it his doing, or German society's? Professor Ian Kershaw has produced a work of definitive scholarship that will be the standard for years to come. It was badly needed; since Alan Bullock's 1952 classic Hitler: A Study in Tyranny and Joachim Fest's Hitler (originally published in 1973) there has been much valuable research, all of which Kershaw seems to have read (there are 200 pages of notes). Add to this the media (and, by extension, public) fascination with the nature of evil, and a resurgent interest in right-wing groups, and this book becomes long overdue. Kershaw deals rigorously with the bones of his subject's life. He has no truck with psychological padding, and calmly demolishes most of the quasi-facts that have sprung up--if in doubt, he allows space within the chronology. His description of the path to the Chancellorship, which was always more messy than messianic, is painful to behold but gripping to follow, and concludes in 1936 with Hitler at the height of his "Hubris". This is an important study of the character of power, as clearly written as it is intellectually engaging. --David Vincent --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Supersedes all previous accounts. It is the sort of masterly biography that only a first-rate historian can write (David Cannadine Observer Books of the Year)

The Hitler biography for the 21st century ... cool, judicious, factually reliable and intelligently argued ... Kershaw triumphantly succeeds in showing that Hitler's rise to supreme power depended not just on his own talents, nor on the nature of German society, but on the interaction of the two (Richard Evans Sunday Telegraph)

One of the major historical biographies of our times ... Kershaw has written a dazzlingly lucid interpretation of the central dynamics of the Nazi regime which draws on a wide new range of sources and expertly manages a huge cast of accomplices ... a riveting read (Jackie Wullschlager Financial Times, Best Biographies of the Year)

His analysis of Hitler's extraordinary character has the fascination of a novel, but he places his struggle and rise in the context of meticulously researched history ... Deeply disturbing. Unforgettable (A.N. Wilson Daily Mail)

A sane, erudite, moral and intellectually honest biography of the 20th century's most destructive politician. Every page is focused on the historical question we would prefer to forget: how did it happen? (Ruth Scurr The Times)

This new biography is of profound importance and will ... quickly establish itself as the standard work on Hitler and his regime (Thomas Childers Boston Globe)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Looking at some of the earlier reviews I have to wonder if the reviewers have actually understood the book. Kershaw doesn't rehash the 'Hitler as a lucky non-entity' argument. He shows (again and again) how Hitler, through his hard-won dominiation of the Nazi party, coupled with his undoubted genius as an orator, came to power in Germany. The early chapters on the unique social and political conditions within Germany which allowed a demagogue like Hitler to prosper are worth the price of the book alone. Also, the charge that Kershaw is 'woolly' on the root of Hitlers' anti-semitism is deeply flawed. No-one can acurately pin-point what made Hitler so rabidly anti-semetic without resorting to cod-philosophy, which is exactly what real historians (like Kershaw) avoid.

Hitler: Hubris is not only the best book on Hitler I have ever read, it's the best book period.
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Format: Paperback
I bought this book, purely out of personal interest to learn more about the story of Hitler, and the conditions which allowed him to rise to power with such devastating consequences.

I knew the basic facts before I started to read the book, but now feel like a seasoned expert, such is the detail on Hitler himself, but also the social and political turmoil in Germany at the time which allowed someone so seemingly devoid of talent or ambition in his early years(other than an aggressive and vague revolutionary stance). It is not a light read, due to the depth of information, and the size of the book, but it is not difficult to read. If, like me, you want to know more about this historical character, this book, and it's second volume "Nemesis" would contain all the information you could ever possibly want.

I am about to start reading "Nemesis" to complete the story. So bear in mind that you will really need to buy both books, as this on it's own only tells half the story.

There are differences of opinion from some reviewers about how Hitler is portrayed, however I would not worry about that. The book does show that at key points in his life and his rise to prominence that he was incredibly lucky, and I think these are highlighted to show that history couold have been very different if certain people had made different decisions along the way. In that case we would never have even heard of Adolf Hitler, and that makes this such an interesting story. There is also enough fact in this book to make your own mind up about what happened and therefore I would highly recommend this. Just leave yourself plenty of time to get through it!
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Format: Paperback
This is a very detailed, well researched and highly readable first `half' of a two-volume biography. This first volume should be read by anyone interested in the life of Hitler and Nazi Germany up to 1936. Do NOT be put off by the length of the book and the two-volume biography as a whole - every page is worth reading!

It makes previously published and highly reputable Hitler biographies from earlier years look somewhat dated (Bullock's `Hitler - A Study in Tyranny' is one such biography).

Kershaw's grasp on chronology in respect of what Hitler articulated as Nazi 'policy' and when he articulated what he did is especially useful. Also, his assessment of Hitler's time in Vienna between 1908 and 1913 is especially fascinating and revealing.

Essential reading as one of several Hitler and Nazi Germany publications from the same author.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I enjoyed reading this book very much, I would have given it four and a half stars if I could.

It is the first book about Hitler I have read, having avoided the subject of the Third Reich, despite a deep interest in history, for many years.

I found it very interesting especially in that Kershaw suggests that while Hitler was a man of many talents, the development of Germany in the twenties and thirties was not, of course, solely down to his influence. Germany, he argues, had an appetite for totalitarian rule and anti-semitism was already highly developed. Having said that, while Kershaw documents prejudice against Jews mainly because of their success in business, he does not offer any in depth analysis of this. Nor for that matter does he offer any history of the Weimar republic, nor of Germany at all except in as much as it relates directly to Hitler. This is not a criticism but it is a limitation. A biographer might reasonably not expect to have to provide any more background than is strictly necessary to tell his tale of a personal development, but if you lack that historical knowledge you will have to go elsewhere to find it.

Kershaw makes it clear from the information he provides that Hitler was a man of profound oratorical gifts, and also a man with supreme political instinct and timing who almost infallibly knew how to ride the waves of feeling in Germany. Perhaps, if you like, he was in tune with the national Zeitgeist. However I felt that Kershaw at times wanted to underplay Hitler's talents and call him lucky, I wasn't sure if he was being strictly honest in doing so, perhaps he was anxious not to be seen to be praising Hitler in any way.

If you are unsure whether to buy this book I urge you to read the reviews on Amazon.com. As if often the case they are far more lucid and well-informed than those on this site in my opinion.
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