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Summary

“A remarkable - and singularly chilling - glimpse of human behavior...This meticulously researched book...represents a major contribution to the literature of the Holocaust." (Newsweek)

Now available in audio for the first time, Christopher R. Browning’s shocking account of how a unit of average middle-aged Germans became the cold-blooded murderers of tens of thousands of Jews - now with a new afterword and additional photographs. 

Ordinary Men is the true story of Reserve Police Battalion 101 of the German Order Police, which was responsible for mass shootings as well as round-ups of Jewish people for deportation to Nazi death camps in Poland in 1942. Browning argues that most of the men of RPB 101 were not fanatical Nazis but, rather, ordinary middle-aged, working-class men who committed these atrocities out of a mixture of motives, including the group dynamics of conformity, deference to authority, role adaptation, and the altering of moral norms to justify their actions. 

Very quickly three groups emerged within the battalion: a core of eager killers, a plurality who carried out their duties reliably but without initiative, and a small minority who evaded participation in the acts of killing without diminishing the murderous efficiency of the battalion whatsoever. While this book discusses a specific Reserve Unit during WWII, the general argument Browning makes is that most people succumb to the pressures of a group setting and commit actions they would never do of their own volition.  

Ordinary Men is a powerful, chilling, and important work with themes and arguments that continue to resonate today.  

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2017 Christopher R. Browning (P)2020 HarperAudio

What listeners say about Ordinary Men

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Not an easy read but a very important one

I came to this book on the recommendation of several renowned psychologists. Prepare to cast off the comfort blanket of thinking this could never happen to me or anyone I know.

6 people found this helpful

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Solid, well-written and terrifying

Argues convincingly that normal people are capable of terrible things. Better than Goldhagen. Read this.

6 people found this helpful

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Beware of this book.

Difficult to read. Not due to it's historical narrtion, but because of the hardness of it's contents. Not recommend for sensible people. A not so enjoyable book that you must read.

5 people found this helpful

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Very important book to read 2020

This book should be read in all schools all over the world so young ppl can learn from history

4 people found this helpful

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fascinating, concerning, infuriating ...history

This a really important book. its by no means easy listening. but I have no regrets. I found it really interesting and engaging throughout, well read and written. like all good history I am left wanting to read more around this subject.

3 people found this helpful

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Necessary Reading

The first 17 chapters are about the graphic incidents of the holocaust. Then comes the most interesting part, the analysis which really questions one's conformity in life!

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average

struggled to finish, too much info and topics, people already know the Nazis were monsters. only new info was the psychology aspect. how some dealt forced etc etc

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  • R
  • 17-02-21

Bad History poorly presented

I gave up on this after just 2 hours it was just a long list of places and numbers that carried little emotion of the event and trauma of those day.
although dealing with a specific group of men from a particular area there was no real essence of what bought these people to perform in this way and no comparisons to those who performed the same tasks across Europe.
There is a whole lot better stories of these events that carry more conviction and the atmosphere of evil that should represent

1 person found this helpful

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Must Read / listen

I wouldn't describe this book as enjoyable, but fascinating, griping, upsetting, it's a must read /listen. I would most definitely recommend

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A must listen to, reveals what every human is capable of.

This book tells a story of horror which you would not believe is based on reality.

This book is like a horror novel, following the descent the police battalion experiences, whilst telling the factual information blended immaculately with the personal stories and experiences. This book should shake you to the core on what we all are capable of.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Andrew lester
  • 07-06-20

could've done without the afterword...

The story is excellent and strong but could've done without the afterword of the author bashing his literary rivals... realistically 2 hours of the audiobook was ranting

25 people found this helpful

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  • JD
  • 04-06-20

Ok book minus the afterword

The reason I’m giving this book and single star and requesting a refund isn’t so much the main content, even though it was disappointing at best. Rather my negative review is earned through the 2.5 hour afterward the author chose to include. Instead of being new insight or information, this addition is simply hours of the author whining that someone disagreed with their conclusions. Perhaps the author is unfamiliar with the world, but differences of opinions are commonplace and to just continually cry about how you are right and this other person was wrong was very off putting.

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  • Daniel Eduardo Lopez Gomez
  • 29-05-20

They were ordinary men...just like you or me

Most people cannot fathom how the Holocaust came to be. Well... here it is. A vast array of factors - that would have pushed most people to do exactly what the men of these times did - influenced the individual participation of the people involved in the mass murder of other humans.
This book is not for the light of heart, but I believe it is something everyone should read. The details in the book suffice to give you an idea of what happened, where it happened, and most importantly, why it happened.

18 people found this helpful

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  • Lauren Grippo
  • 13-09-20

Terrifyingly real

This is a must listen.. it’s not enjoyable, at least not in the traditional sense of the word, however it delves deep into the how and why ordinary men could commit such atrocious acts against humanity. The narrator is perfect, in my opinion, for the macabre section of the book you have to get through.

17 people found this helpful

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  • Demid V. Fedorov
  • 30-06-20

Very chaotic narration.

90% of the book (9 hrs) is disjointed descriptions of various massacres. The part about “ordinary men” is only about an hour long and at the very end.

17 people found this helpful

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  • Erich Soiles
  • 21-07-20

speaking the truth

details of the book and what happened are incredible. still a hard subject to read. not sure I could do the research myself and be the same type of person. actually I don't think I'm the same type of person after reading the book. amazingly hard to speak the truth what happened

16 people found this helpful

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  • Chad
  • 01-09-20

Essential reading for today

Don’t believe that you or someone you know could become a mass killer? Read this and realize the push required is but a breath.

13 people found this helpful

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  • Nathaniel Overcash
  • 17-08-20

Should be required reading

This should be required reading in any High School History class. Pure and simple. Too many have such a naive view on how man could enact such atrocities on his fellow man.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 26-06-20

a must read on human behavior

a must read for anyone interested in how "normal" people can be lead to commit acts of atrocities. Its scary how propaganda now is turning back into demonizing the other, both left and right are edging toward dehumanization and lack of individual responsibility in crimes.

10 people found this helpful

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  • D. Roberts
  • 11-02-21

Absolutely chilling but necessary

I found the afterward a bit tedious but the body of this book will change your perspective on human nature and the events that too many people throw around as casual epithets.

6 people found this helpful