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Summary

A major new biography - an extraordinary, penetrating study of the man who has become the personification of evil.

For all the literature about Adolf Hitler, there have been just four seminal biographies; this is the fifth, a landmark work that sheds important new light on Hitler himself. Drawing on previously unseen papers and a wealth of recent scholarly research, Volker Ullrich reveals the man behind the public persona, from Hitler's childhood, to his failures as a young man in Vienna, to his experiences during the First World War, to his rise as a far-right party leader. Ullrich deftly captures Hitler's intelligence, instinctive grasp of politics, and gift for oratory as well as his megalomania, deep insecurity, and repulsive worldview.

Many previous biographies have focused on the larger social conditions that explain the rise of the Third Reich. Ullrich gives us a comprehensive portrait of a postwar Germany humiliated by defeat, wracked by political crisis, and starved by an economic depression - but his real gift is to show vividly how Hitler used his ruthlessness and political talent to shape the Nazi party and lead it to power. For decades the world has tried to grasp how Hitler was possible. By focusing on the man at the center of it all, on how he experienced his world, formed his political beliefs, and wielded power, this riveting biography brings us closer than ever to the answer.

Translated from the German by Jefferson Chase.

©2016 Volker Ullrich (P)2016 Gildan Media LLC

Critic reviews

"Ullrich reveals Hitler to have been an eminently practical politician - and frighteningly so. Timely...One of the best works on Hitler and the origins of the Third Reich to appear in recent years." ( Kirkus Reviews)
"An outstanding study...All the huge, and terrible moments of the early Nazi era are dissected...but the real strength of this book is in disentangling the personal story of man and monster." ( The Guardian [U.K.])

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Clearly well researched but bit dull and poor narration

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

Probably not as there are so many much better ones

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

Forensic detail but got wearing - hard to listen to

Who might you have cast as narrator instead of Don Hagen?

Any of the big ones. Tried to enjoy the narration and it did get a bit better but not good. Dull.

Do you think Hitler needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

Yes story only half told but get a new narrator please

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Good book., well read.

A conventional account of Hitler's rise, we'll read but with some strange translation quirks.





1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Narny
  • Lincoln, United Kingdom
  • 18-10-17

Informative listen

Found the content very interesting with quite a few things I was unaware of.

However the narration is a little laboured and took some getting used to.

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  • Paul
  • 05-12-16

A new view of the man.

A different perspective on his early life and great detail on the pre WWI Vienna years that makes his experience clearer. The rise to power is described based on multiple firsthand sources and provides the reader a very clear view of the motives of the players. At least that's what I came away with. A very clear and realistic picture of the man.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • matthew c strublic
  • 12-11-16

Great book!

This is perhaps one of the best woks on the subject I have come across. Personal details make this work come to life in a way that makes it most enjoyable to listen to. Highly recommend it.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Joshua
  • 03-11-16

Worthwhile if you haven't read a Hitler biography

I've read every major historical biography of Hitler in my studies, so I picked this up on audible for ease. Honestly, it's ok. I would certainly say it's a good start off point, at least as good as Kershaw's and with some updated information. Ullrich also concentrates a lot more on Hitler the man and has a fairly differing POV with a lot of previous scholarship on questions about Hitler's personality. I certainly cannot complain about the research and writing, it's all good. Honestly though, I preferred reading it myself later. The narration isn't great.

11 of 13 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • iKlick
  • 27-08-17

Authoritative Work on an Authoritarian

To describe this book as thorough would be an understatement, and to listen to the entire audio book takes a serious time commitment. I would have been satisfied with a condensed version; I didn't need to know what kind of food Hitler ate or what his typical evening was like (in great detail). However, for anyone wanting to try to understand this twisted and evil man who brought such death and destruction to others, listening to this audio book will not be a waste of time. It is a master work, and the amount of research that had to have gone into its writing is almost incomprehensible.

What I usually find most intriguing and fascinating is not Hitler the man, but how what appeared to be normal and reasonable people in Germany could have succumbed to him. Although this book does not expressly seek to answer that question, it does provide some insights, because it does an excellent job of conveying the times and German society, with economic pressures , class considerations and perspectives, and existing prejudices all playing a part.

I was struck (more than I had anticipated) with some parallels of Hitler and what happened in the 1930s with what is happening in our time, and it brings to mind the saying (too often ignored) that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. We most desperately need to learn from history, and listening to this audio book will aid that effort.

Hitler could not have done what he did on his own, and so the men who surrounded him played a key role. The book does a good job in describing those men and explaining how they aided him.

The book ends just before Poland is invaded in 1939. I look forward to the follow-up book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Can't Talk - Listening
  • 14-11-16

History we wished DIDN'T happen

Would you consider the audio edition of Hitler to be better than the print version?

No comment.

What did you like best about this story?

The IMMENSE amount of research that must have gone into this compelling book. Clearly the writer, and others before him, spent many, many MANY hours hunched over desks reading millions of words to get what was needed for this material. No detail, no matter how small, was left untold.

What does Don Hagen bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

I felt like I was sitting in the room with Hitler at times, listening to him scream and spit, berating those around him just for the joy of it, seeing his face turn different shades of red, wondering who wouldn't be in the room the next day because of some perceived slight that set him off so. A truly frightening yet fascinating monster of a man. To bring the story to that kind of life was compelling, which is what I always hope for, but don't always get, in biographies. This one delivered with change to spare. this one belongs in any history buff's library for sure.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

"Like you've never seen or heard him before"

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • lesley
  • 22-10-16

Read, don't listen

First: narrator would put anyone to sleep. Very sing-song voice lacking any variability even in passages that are dramatic and/or horrifying. I ended up reading the book in hardcover-- which also has the advantage of giving you very detailed references and footnotes.
This is an invaluable addition to the many books about Hitler. The author had the advantage of more time having passed and more primary source material being available since previous biographies. Despite being long, the book is well-written and really holds the reader's interest. As you know if you've read reviews elsewhere, the author doesn't approach Hitler as a monster but as a skilled man who had absolutely no conscience and who perfected the dubious talent of manipulating people according to their greatest vulnerabilities. The truth was anything that advanced his power. Very timely in our country where so many are re-examining our form of government and what the citizen's role is in preserving our democracy.

15 of 20 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Michael Fitzgerald
  • 17-07-17

Nothing New

It was just okay. The language is the same used by all writers on this period (i.e. fait accompli seems to have no synonym and Goebbels never writes in his diary, he always "confides" to it, etc).
There is one thing I never encountered until reading this book, and that is Private Hitler instead of Corporal Hitler. Perhaps it is an error in the translation?
The reader is just awful! His monotone, soporific drone might be more tolerable if he didn't mispronounce every German word and name. It got to be hilarious after a while. "Ribbontrope" and "chancellry" we're my favorites.
It is a typical biography from the strict conformist school of history.
Toland's biography remains the only objective one.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Mike
  • 05-09-18

Historical Scholarship at Its Best

The first volume of Volker Ullrich's biography of Adolf Hitler is based on extensive research and is extremely well written. The author's description of Hitler's family history and early life are artfully presented. Ullrich's extensive use of primary sources and first person accounts paints a vivid, as well as disturbing, picture of Hitler's methodical destruction of Germany's democracy, and his eventual ascent to power. Hitler, the man and the monster, are on full display.

Narrator Don Hagen is to be commended for his performance. His cadence and emphasis make you feel as if you are peering into the very scenes being described. Given the complexity of this account, I found his narration added clarity to the unfolding events.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • adam
  • 27-08-18

Puts you behind the scenes. 5/5

I've read almost everything and this book puts you amongst Hitler and his cronies like no other book does. And without any sensationalism whatsoever.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Pegan
  • 03-08-18

Narrator whistles S

This narrator has a loud sharp whistle for any word ending in 's'. It's extremely distracting, I had to stop listening after an hour. I gave it another shot the next day but still couldn't get past it. Had to return the book.