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The Meaning of Hitler Paperback – 26 May 1988

4.9 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Paperback, 26 May 1988
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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
  • Package Dimensions: 21.2 x 13.6 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,679,338 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An erudite addition to our understanding of AH. It may be the fascination of repulsion but he had such a massive impact on 20th and early 21st century world history that it is essential for any informed person to know baout his rise to power and impact. It has many resonances for current events. A really stimulating book. To quote Harvard University Press: "This is a remarkable historical and psychological examination of the enigma of Adolf Hitler—who he was, how he wielded power, and why he was destined to fail". As with all Folio Society editions a visual, tactile and intellectual treat.
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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 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
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
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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