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4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 3 March 2006
I would strongly recommend this book to anyone that is interested in the Subject having watched the documentary that the book accompanies it has alot of information on the role that the Nazis played in the Second World War and it also shows the ideologies of Hitler and his men.
It is written in a such a way that it is accessible to anyone, whether you are a historian or just interested in the subject
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on 10 January 2009
I have high praise for Laurence Rees' excellent books on Auschwitz and his analysis of how war and the individual interact in "Their Darkest Hour". "The Nazis" meets the same standard, compressing the vast amount of available information into an accessible length, without sacrificing important detail. It is a fascinating read, which both demonstrates how easy it can be for totalitarians to establish themselves, if the time is ripe and also blows away some of the myths about how the Nazis operated. The idea that the Nazi state was fanatically well ordered and planned is false for example: there was no "top down" system of bureaucracy, instead Hitler would issue edicts along the lines of "I want Germany to be a racially pure state" and then let everyone else work out what that meant. There was tremendous waste and duplicated effort as the Fuhrer liked to assign tasks to several departments and then let them fight it out to see whose system would come out on top. Bit like the NHS then. But saddest of all is Rees' discovery that the Gestapo, long depicted as having agents and spies on every street corner, were in fact seriously undermanned and depended on the denouncements of ordinary Germans to do their "job". In that way, the Nazi system seems to have exactly mirrored Stalin's Russia, where you could easily find yourself freezing in Siberia if your neighbour took a fancy to your slightly bigger apartment.

So what warning should we take from this intelligent and balanced analysis? I think we all have to draw our own conclusions, but for the record the message I took is that while the unfairness of the Versailles Treaty, the depression of the thirties might have made the rise of the Nazis inevitable, what sustained it and made the unthinkable possible was the mundane human desire to conform, to go along with the prevailing opinion, and that this is often the biggest enemy we face.
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on 8 August 2007
I cannot agree with a previous reviewer who says the author is firing cheap shots with the benefit of hindsight.
Rees tries to explain the rationale behind people's actions but nevertheless at times is at a loss to understand the dreadful atrocities that were committed.
It is fascinating to see how the Nazi's rose to power and Rees gives a great insight into how easily this could happen in the prevailing circumstances.
The chapters on the Eastern Front are quite chilling and hearing what many of the Russian civilians went through (being attacked by their own people as well as the Germans) makes you realise how lucky we are to live in a peaceful time.
All in all, a fantastic read and although I have always been very interested in WW2, this book enlightened me on new facts considerably.
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on 6 July 2009
Great read, in fact easy to read, this opened my eyes, and the interviews detailed where in some parts scary. Breaks the stilted view we learnt as children, gives a very understandable way of explaining this facet of history.
Also highlights the very real lesson, let us not forget that this sort of thing happened and can again if we are not careful.
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VINE VOICEon 8 July 2004
Great read for anyone wanting to be enlightened about Nazi rule. It dispels the myth of teutonic efficiency, Nazi rule was chaotic and mostly unplanned. Eye witness accounts add an authenticity to the realities of life under the bullying tyrannical rule of Hitler.
The sheer brutality of the Nazis to the vanquished inhabitants is staggering and hard to imagine, people dispossed overnight of all their worldly belongings, women and children gunned down like dogs - please read it and make sure the human race never goes through this hell again.
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on 22 January 2000
I couldn't disagree more strongly with the previous reviewer. It's only by challenging the interviewees that Rees gains the insights this book is full of. The series this book is based on won a BAFTA - and that gives an idea of the quality of the research. I really enjoyed it.
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on 23 December 2009
This is not an "easy" book to read, not because of the prose, it is well written and well researched with a logical layout. It is not an easy read because it offers some disturbing insights into what is possible when we fail to see others as normal or of equal worth. It is a true warning from history and hopefully a lesson we will all learn before much longer. I would recommend this book and the TV series (if you come across it) to all. The Nazis were an extreme example of a chilling mind set that still exists today, the litany of demonisation and depersonalisation of enemies to justify horror is unfortunately still with us, only the scale and the names of the victims are different.
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on 28 December 2008
As a History sixth form student, I felt reluctant to dive into anything too heavy handed in a Christmas holiday but equally find a book that would present itself suitable for learning the facts and understanding.
I must say, this was a brilliant read: the well-articulated Rees moves the ordinary reader with sentiment as yet unfelt post-4. The amount of research into tracking down Soviet and German soldiers alike bring a depth to wars like Operation Barbarossa that cannot be conveyed in studying statistics or battle plans.
Rees provides a down-to-earth view on some extraordinary incidents in history and appeals both to experts and novices. Economical yet informative in his writing style and content, the fast pace divides the understanding of the period between interviews with people conducted by Rees' team for the television show of the same name and his own understanding. Furthermore a reaction to some characters' words contribute to the sense of realism, horror, anger, grief.

This, of all reasons, achieves more to me than other books of the same genre - the reader knew what he was reading was more than a compendium of facts, but a horrific story that one must never forget.
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on 22 March 2014
Concise and profusely illustrated with disturbing photographs, this book includes many eyewitness accounts. Laurence Rees calls upon, not only his own extensive experience, but also the latest information available to historians.
In one volume of only 256 pages, this has to be an invaluable work to accompany the BBC TV series.
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on 25 February 2009
Perhaps the definitive book on the progress of the evil regime. Every holocaust denying priest and every cheery optimist should be strapped down and forced to read it cover to cover.Thorough and detailed. Everything to say now is a cliche,but it's still alarming how brief the span between that war and it's ideology and where we are now in our comfortable period of European peace. How easily a charimatic personality can manipulate and dominate, how much of a human blackboard ordinary people can be,just available, waiting for propagandists to inscribe their crazy messages.''War turns all soldiers into criminals'' one interviewee says. That question hangs over the book. Perhaps that's what we are at heart, the most brutal of the animals. Never join anything, don't trust anybody, don't get fooled again.
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