SOCIAL SCIENCES

Hitler: A Biography

Oxford Univ. Oct. 2019. 1,344p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780190056735. $39.95. BIOG
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With this latest work, Longerich (modern German history, Royal Holloway Univ. of London; Holocaust: The Nazi Murder and Persecution of the Jews) suggests that while Adolf Hitler’s specific personality traits, such as a stunted emotional development that prevented him from feeling empathy, were present before World War I, his virulent anti-Semitism and grandiose sense of destiny resulted from the circumstances of post-1918 Germany. Previous studies of the Nazi state have focused on administrative chaos and an increasingly radicalized base that wished to satisfy the leader. While Longerich agrees that Hitler was an inept administrator, he convincingly argues that the administrative upheaval was a function, not a glitch, of the system, enabling Hitler to act as arbiter of policy conflicts and to insert himself forcefully into policy decisions. Thus, in the final analysis, Nazi Germany and all its policies were Hitler’s alone.
VERDICT Although the work is occasionally dense owing to the minutiae of German politics, such details are integral to Longerich’s assertion of Hitler’s centrality to all decisions, such as the Holocaust. While some may question the need for another Hitler biography, readers and scholars of 20th-century history will welcome this one.

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