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The Meaning of Hitler

4.9 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson; New edition edition (26 May 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0297792555
  • ISBN-13: 978-0297792550
  • Product Dimensions: 21.2 x 13.6 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,139,923 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Tough-minded evaluation of Hitler's career...That this book was a best-seller in Germany [43 weeks] indicates that Haffner's countrymen welcomed this compact, lucid, hard-headed reexamination of contemporary history.

Sebastian Haffner's book already has received recognition...as perhaps the best that has dealt with the phenomenon of Hitler and his impact on the 20th century. It is better than Trevor-Roper's best-seller, "The Last Days of Hitler,.".a most penetrating analysis of what Hitler was up to in his astonishing career. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

A remarkable historical and psychological study of the enigma of Adolf Hitler and his impact on the twentieth century - by the bestselling author of DEFYING HITLER. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I wanted a book that would give me a brief overview of Hitler's rise to power and fall to defeat while also analysing his motivations. This book answered that need. It's easy to read, well structured and engaging. Haffner discusses the achievements and successes of Hitler with some objectivity. He also explores the reasons behind his military failures. Hitler's victories - bought through the sudden attack - also explain his mistakes - he relied upon unsustainable sudden strikes which led to his armies downfall in the long drawn out war against Russia, America and Britain. The holocaust is dealt with along with Hitler's personality defects. He was a man who loved brute power and war. He could never have been a peace-time leader. It wasn't in his nature. I felt the book went a long way to explaining Hitler but failed to deal enough with the meaning of evil and his popular appeal. Hitler struck a chord with people that seems to still find appeal where there is mass-murder and brutality. The book stimulated thinking on these issues.
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Format: Paperback
This book says more in a few sentences than most do in several chapters. Haffner gives exactly enough background so you understand his point, but emphasises analysis and understanding rather than narrative (which he assumes you know already). He gets straight to the interesting fundamental questions and his epigrammatic style is illuminating and thought-provoking rather than mere stylism - see the first couple of sentences for one of the best examples. A brilliantly concise book and a model of gripping historical analysis.
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Format: Paperback
This book is an argument - it seeks to explain Hitler's actions, from initial success to final disaster, so as to make even the seemingly inexplicable (some of his military decisions) understandable. The book is absolutely successful in presenting a coherent picture of Hitler, and it does this in a highly readable style.
It does not pretend, like so many biographies, to explain the 'deeper' causes of e.g. Hitler's antisemitism as the product of his childhood - it leaves such interpretations to psychologists. What is does do is put all his major political and military decisions into a coherent framework and interpret these in the light of his world view and ideological motives.
The book is not for Hitler 'beginners', as it deals mostly with major issues, and assumes a reader who is familiar with the historical facts of Third Reich and WW2 history. It does not so much recount those facts as interpret and explain them.
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Format: Paperback
Sebastian Haffner manages to summarize Hitler's career in nearly 150 pages, giving his personal view of his successes, failures, crimes and obsessions. Though more a historical essay with plenty of personal opinions by the author (a very shrewd observer on the other hand) than a regular biography or a serious history book, the volume is worth reading as a summary of Hitler's main traits and a thought-provoking book.

Personally, I liked the author's "The German Revolution" better, but his keen analytical powers are present in this short volume as well, though his style is more personal and so more open to criticism.
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Format: Paperback
Haffner has delivered a masterful and intriguing analysis of the actions and motivations of Adoph Hitler, the primary architect of the last sixty years of the 20th Century, who failed nonetheless to build the edifice he had in mind. Better, perhaps, to have entitled (or translated?) this essay "understanding" Hitler rather than the more ambitious concept of the "meaning" of the phenomenon, but I'm splitting hairs. The translation is never obtrusive.
My own previous study of the man is confined to Alan Bullock's early and brilliant biography ("Hitler - A Study In Tyranny"), and general knowledge of the history of the Third Reich and the Second World War. But I found this was more than sufficient to cope with the author's assumptions of knowledge on the reader's behalf, and thoroughly appreciated following his cool-headed lines of argument and analysis.
Haffner breaks his study very effectively under seven headings: Life, Achievements, Successes, Misconceptions, Mistakes, Crimes, and Betrayal. In doing so I believe he turns over several stones hitherto left largely undisturbed.
The most significant example may be the final murderous acts Hitler attempted (with partial success) to inflict upon the German people. Along with his relatively in-depth consideration of the most "conspicous" of Hitler's errors - declaring war on America - , one is left staring at the implication that Hitler's attachment to the German people may have been only a matter of necessity if he was to achieve his blood-thirsty and inexplicable revenge on the Jews.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A very valuable book indeed. Especially for anyone who now wants to go beyond the historical facts, or Hitler's dreadful crimes, to
ask the question of HOW did it happen, how COULD it have happened. For decades I have been puzzled by the complete
inconsistencies in the Hitler story, how a complete nonentity could suddenly discover a talent that brought him to absolute power,
then victory after victory despite the reservations of the army experts, then defeat after defeat, and finally disaster. Haffner describes the
process brillianly, a wonderful readable analysis: Hitler's early life, his achievements, successes, misconceptions, mistakes, crimes and
finally his great betrayal of the German people.

How could such a man, with hate radiating in his every speech seduce a highly civilised country? How could he enchant an entire country
and inspire such loyalty almost up to his death? Because he gave (at first) SPIRIT to a demoralised Germany, he put people back to work,
he gave them a charismatic, energetic leader ... his performances simply blew them away! Look at any of the photographs - they adored
him! "Without a vision the people perish" - he gave them that vision. And then he went bad, felt the German people hadn't fought hard
enough, had let him down, deserved to perish with him - it's all a bit reminiscent of certain gurus. As says Haffner, within the highly gifted
politician always lurked the mass murderer - he wanted to turn Germany into a sort of stud farm "and in the end Hitler acted like a bad-
tempered and disappointed stud owner who has his best horse whipped to death because it proved unable to win the Derby".

Let us not forget that the whole zeitgeist was different in the 20's & 30's.
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