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4.2 out of 5 stars
16
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 4 June 2015
This is a scholarly work and certainly no airport read. It captures its subject, this odious and inadequate example of human detritus, well. For those potential readers who are looking for a biography of Himmler which just gives an impression of his career and personal life, look elsewhere; this surely has to be the definitive biography. It is somewhat turgid in places and goes into too much detail which loses pace, hence four rather than five stars for me.
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on 14 December 2014
This is no narrow biography, but a complete analysis of Himmler, his mind set and his career. The events and personalities of the Third Reich are carefully and vividly described, and there are many new facts and revelations which I had not come across before, particularly in connection with the 20 July plot. Highly recommended.
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on 14 August 2014
A subject matter that many would shun but personally after reading about the Holocaust/Shoah, my biggest outstanding question was, who and what kind of person could perpetrate such a thing, consider how a full stadium looks, 50,000 maybe, multiply that by 18 and that was just Treblinka! I think that I now have an answer, read this and maybe it will answer any questions you may have about this stain on human history.
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on 15 August 2016
In the process of writing my own novels ('The City of Shadows', 'The City of Strangers', 'The City in Darkness'), which touch on WWII a great deal, I read many books, looking at all areas of the period, and I have done so throughout my life. Peter Padfield's 'Himmler' is not only a very thorough and well-written account of Himmler's life (I think the best in the way that it relates him to events in the rise of Hitler's Nazism and the Third Reich) but is, almost in passing, a fine analysis of what Nazism was and of the fundamental and essential element of racial 'cleansing' that was not merely an adjunct of Hitler's Germany, but in so many ways its true purpose, its aim, its driving spirit. Himmler, Heydrich, and the the SS state-within-a-state, were the true manifestation of that reality. It is a reality that is often touched on, but rarely given such clarity of expression as in Padfield's book. In that sense 'Himmler' is by no means just a book about Himmler, but a book that tells you more about what Nazism really was, and how it took hold of Germany, than many far more (apparently) wide-ranging accounts of the Third Reich and its emergence. It is essential reading - and will cut through a lot of the obfuscation and confusion that is piled up around Nazi Germany. A lot of it really was very simple, and as Padfield points out, no one represented the dark heart of that simplicity more than Himmler. Padfield cuts to the chase, always.
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on 22 April 2016
Several reviewers have commented on the psychological analyses and "speculation" of the author. I would like to add that these are measured and, for me, persuasive; there is no overdone Freudian key-to-everything stuff, rather, an intelligent linking of Himmler's experiences and actions and suggestions of possible motivations and thought processes. I found Padfield scholarly but still very readable. If you want to read fact piled upon fact, go for Longerich's more recent book, but I found it completely unreadable and gave up after 200 incredibly dry pages which felt more like reading a telephone directory than a biography of the second most important Nazi. To me, any biographer of Himmler fails in their main task if they do not at least attempt to analyse and explain the character. I only withhold a fifth star because this book does lapse into some quite long passages of general WWII history during which we sometimes lose sight of Himmler altogether for a few pages; if you already know about, say, appeasement, Munich, and the run-up to war in 1939, you may find parts of the book a little familiar. But I don't know of a better Himmler biography.
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on 1 January 2016
Well researched and full of detail, I nevertheless finished this book with some relief - it is far too long. Padfield clearly had the measure of his man whilst writing this biography, but his endless interruption of the narrative story of Himmler's life with speculative passages regarding his motives or state of mind became tiresome after a while. Clearly, there would be little point to a biography of Himmler without some examination of the sentiments and beliefs which drove him or the neuroses which affected his choices and actions, but I rather think Padfield enjoyed speculating on these, to the overarching detriment of the book. I have to admit, however, that this is one of the most comprehensive and detailed studies of any of Hitler's paladins that I have ever read.
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on 30 June 2016
A thorough, well researched and put together narrative. however the devil is in the detail ( at least for me) as some parts were too detailed. Do I really need to know about civil disputes between relatives & their betrothed for example. It was a struggle for me to finish to be honest and I felt bogged down by the detail of the life of a Grey man who became a mass murderer.
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on 13 May 2015
Very interesting and frankly terrifying reading. However, the psychological head working theories I could well have done without. Do I feel as though I know the subject matter, no not really. But I could describe the course of the second world war.
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on 29 July 2014
Very good factual account very good read really interesting about Nazi Germany we must never forget the horrors of the Nazis
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on 16 October 2015
Excellent well researched book offering genuine insights into Himmler's complex personality
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