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Joseph Goebbels: Life and Death Paperback – 23 Sep 2009

4.6 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 424 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan; 2009 edition (23 Sept. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0230278663
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230278660
  • Product Dimensions: 15.8 x 2.5 x 23.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 422,761 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


'...a welcome addition to the burgeoning library of 'perpetrator studies'.'  - Literary Review 
'…a detailed and well-written insight into the man at the heart of the Nazi propaganda machine….In his examination of Goebbels, Toby Thacker has produced a valuable addition to the printed history of the 1930s and 1940s.' - Britain at War Magazine 
'Thacker's reassessment is convincing and welcome. Crucially, his new biography is the first to be written since the entire set of Goebbels' diaries has been published. He writes well, and offers the reader a number of important new contentions and insights.' -BBC History Magazine

'Judicious, insightful and the first biography based on the entire available diary record. This book is a must for anybody interested in Hitler's Germany and the origins of the Holocaust'.
  - Brendan Simms, Peterhouse, Cambridge University, UK

'[Thacker's] biography really is the first step towards a reassessment of the role and significance of Joseph Goebbels in National Socialism.' - Daniel Muhlenfeld, Bulletin, German Historical Institute London.
"...the author seeks to dispel at least some of the myths and legends surrounding Goebbels, which he discussed and considered at the beggining as a sort of stock-taking of the image of Goebbels still prevalant today." German Historical Institute London

Book Description

The first authoritative biography of Joseph Goebbels to use all his surviving diaries, 1923-45. Sheds fascinating new light on his beliefs and personal relationships, including that with Hitler.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an excellent book, quite simply the best political biography that I have read for some time. The style is lucid and very straightforward, I guarantee that you will not have to re-read a single sentence in this book in order to aid your comprehension. The author, Thacker, has made wonderful use of recently released sections of the Goebbels' diaries which now represent an almost a complete record of these important documents. Together with exhaustive research in the German archives the author has put together what must be the most accurate and comprehensive fast moving biography to date of this Nazi leader. Goebbels maintained a diary from his youth to the end of his life and recorded events and his views on the arts and politics of the day. When he acceded to power in the 1930s Goebbels was very aware that he was writing an historically important document that would be scrutinised by future historians and he put great effort into their daily maintenance and their safekeeping.
Thacker manages to chart Goebbels' private life and his artistic interests coincidentally with his role at the centre of German politics. Goebbels was probably closer to Hitler in the late 1930s and through to the end of the war than any other senior Nazi and hence his diary is of vital interest in understanding the motivation and beliefs of these two men. In this, the diaries do not disappoint and Thacker is able to draw a very clear picture of what was taking place and the thoughts behind the actions.
The final chapter of the book examines other biographies and works on Goebbels and compares previously expressed views with his own.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book draws largely from Goebbels’ diaries written between 1923 and 1945. From the very early days mention is made in them of his obsession against Jews (even though they represented less than 1% of the German population in the 1930’s.) It describes his rise in the ranks of the Nazi party and resulting closeness to Hitler to whom he remained devoted until the end, despite frustration with his increasing absenteeism. We are living with the character as we learn about his marital problems, womanizing, enmities and doubts up to and after the apex of Nazi success in 1942 and the heavy bombing of Germany and Allied advances that followed. Whereas, as Allied pressures increased, most of his colleagues retreated into isolation, he remained publicly active, continuing to encourage mass hysteria and xenophobia and giving propaganda a dirty name, cunningly making sure that there was enough truth in it so as to continue to be listened to. He was an intelligent, hardworking, cultured and gifted man of the people, loved music, a first class orator, a man with very scary views. Like his associates, he exploited the fragility of democracy and opportunities for enacting evil, forcing the perception of an omnipresent enemy, the Jews, which had to be liquidated at all costs. All types of ‘asocials’ had to be exterminated, but although his own physical handicap invited comments, it did not hold back his career. Death or subservience was due to all who were considered different or of inferior race. He believed that the Jews were controlling the Allies, and even implicated them in the Soviet murder of the Poles in Katyn Forest in 1940 and the Dambusters raid in 1943. The biography is admirably crowned by a 27-page epilogue that discusses the many differing perceptions of Goebbels, identifies the misconceptions, and defines a very evil man indeed able to profit from the national psyche of the time. This is a harsh lesson for those inclined to believe in the innate goodness of human beings.
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Format: Paperback
i must echo what the other reviewers have said: this is thorough, lucid, solidly argued, well-structured.
author presents a scientific approach of taking in all avaliable sources, demonstrating command of them and his subject, and yet *still* resigning himself to saying only what can be credible backed up by the sources.
now you may think that this sounds tedious, but its not. because nor is the author a positivist. even though eh keeps himself closely to the sources the still interjects common sense here and there, such as, when goebbels was giving 189 public speeches in a year, he cannot *always* have felt the emotion that he conveyed at such occations; - that's simply common sense even though we have no direct evidence to back up this interpretation.

to small critcisms in closing:

(1) while proceeding chronologically, the chapters are not transparently named, but are rather quotes from the man himself. alas, if you want to find a certain period in the man's life you have to waffle through the text.
(2) in the end, the text doesn't present a coherent interpreation of the man or a picture of the man. this is the unavoidable downside to this scientific way of writing, which is certainly more objective than earlier biographies, but which can also leave some reasons "with a hole in their hearts" still to be plugged: who was goebbels?

so all in all the author is to be greatly commended for his factual and diligent approach to this work. it makes me want to see if author has other books in print.
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