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The SS: A New History Paperback – 2 Feb 2012

3.8 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus (2 Feb. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349117527
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349117522
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 3.3 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 251,316 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

Weale's style is spare and compelling. He deftly evokes the various personalities involved in a paramilitary army which shrouded itself in bureaucratic acronyms . . . This is an extremely important book which I recommend most highly (Michael Burleigh, author of MORAL COMBAT)

'In this landmark history, Adrian Weale deftly charts the development of the SS from its origins as a personal entourage to a weapon of genocide . . . This is a major achievement by a historian at the top of his game, and deserves a lasting place on the (Guy Walters, author of HUNTING EVIL and BERLIN GAMES)

Book Description

* The definitive history of the SS by an acclaimed expert -- out now in paperback

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A well written and balanced account, albeit somewhat brief. For those interested in the in depth history of this era, this does an excellent job as a supportive chapter rather than a comprehensive reference source on the SS. Please see these comments as an observation rather than a criticism; I recommend this book to anyone interested in concise balanced perspective of this most complex and controversial subject.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Detailed but extremely dry account. The author has chosen to provide short biographical information on almost every player without really drawing anything from it either en mass or individually explaining the relevance.

Informative but far from an engaging read.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a straightforward, unsensational and fast moving book, perhaps reflecting the journalistic background of the author. Weale relates the history of the SS from its beginnings to the final debacle and death of Himmler. The complicated growth and constant reorganisation of the SS and its deployment into General-SS, Waffen-SS and various other units including the Deaths Head concentration camp sections is dealt with very well. The author punctures a number of modern myths on the way by showing that many of the Waffen-SS units were far from 'elite' and that the recruitment of only those considered to be the best Aryan stock was much compromised as the war progressed. It might also come as a surprise to film buffs that the Waffen-SS did not wear their black uniforms in combat but adopted the regular Wehrmacht uniform when fighting. This is not a military history and Weale correctly avoids detailing the combat record of the Waffen-SS. Of necessity the book deals with the extermination camps in Eastern Poland, the so-called 'Operation Reinhard', and also the construction and operation of Auschwitz, however, much of this will be familiar to readers of the history of the Third Reich or the Holocaust. Perhaps the weakest chapter in the book is that dealing with the recruitment of non-German men into the SS; a chapter entitled 'Making Up The Numbers'. The author indulges himself in relating extensive histories of quite insignificant characters when the whole subject could have been dispensed with in a paragraph or two. The flyleaf indicates that the book contains recently released intelligence material, however, a browse through the notes shows that overwhelmingly the sources of information are secondary and quote books that will be familiar to many readers of Third Reich history.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
A solid effort this. Tells the story competently enough, but it is a bit predictable and doesn't cover the important aspects - like the SS ecomonic empire - that modern scholarship tends to emphasize.
Also, the author's sources are almost all english-language and secondary material - there is alot in german on this which would have made for a much more important and comprehensive book.
So, all in all, a bit of a missed opportunity. If you know nothing about the SS then it is fine. But bear in mind that there is more to the story than this.
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Format: Paperback
I bought this book because, although it was intended for the general reader, Michael Burgleigh called it 'an extremely important book' and Andrew Roberts called it 'exceptional'. It turned out to be neither. It is a good history of the SS (but Höhne's 'The Order of the Death's Head' is still better), and does contain some interesting 'gems' from the archives, but lacks analysis. In the foreword the author states that it is important to understand why the SS was able to commit the crimes it committed, yet, while they are narrated, they are not explained. But an exposé of the history and activities of the SS is hardly needed - there are enough books on the subject. What is needed is an explanation of how the SS as an organization worked. How it selected and trained its people, how it made sure people were able to commit the horrendous crimes the organization committed, how it dealt with dissent and people who gave up. There is not too much of this in the book. There is a chapter on the training of officers, but very little on the training of men and NCO's, and we do not get much insight into what an ordinary SS-man thought of the jobs he had to do. By not focusing on the men and NCO's, just on the officers, Weale gives the impression that the men simply did what they were told to do by their officers, without any further thought. But we know from Browning's 'Ordinary Men' that not every policeman was a willing executioner, and it is likely that the vast majority of SS-men were not pathological killers from the start, so they had to be forced somehow. How the organization was set up to do exactly this remains unclear. I would say that reading Höhne and Browing gives a fuller picture than this book, although it is a well written introduction.
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Format: Hardcover
if you want, or intend to read only one book on the SS then this is for you. If you dont intend to do this then there are better books with more analysis out there.The auther points out this at the begining in say its a book for the layman. This is more narrative history in that it sets things out a chapter at a time and spends its time basically explaining what the SS is about and how it all works, department by department. for a general reader of military history who is new to the subject of teh SS its a great start point, which is what its meant to be. I agree with the other reviewers that the "new " title is a bit misleading as Christopher Hales book Which I recently read on the SS was packed with new info and insight and not refernced in Weales book ( published at the same time so he didnt contact Hale for a look see) was more in line with the NEW title for me. However I did learn a few details I didnt know and found it an interesting read for teh most point, although it got a bit tedious towards teh last chapters and felt a little rushed at the end.

In short a good, solid general book on the SS, But for someone who already has a solid grounding in the history I would recomened anything by Christopher Hale.

4 stars and not 3 as I found it enhanced and shored up my knowledge without being dull and uninteresting
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