Hitler: A Global Biography

Basic. Oct. 2019. 704p. notes. index. ISBN 9780465022373. $40; ebk. ISBN 9781541618206. BIOG
Adolf Hitler’s motivation in declaring war on the United States on December 11, 1942, might seem incomprehensible, as his attitude toward America is not always discussed in World War II scholarship. Simms (history, Peterhouse Coll., Cambridge), however, argues that Hitler’s obsession with America as a major threat to Germany was one of the most consistent parts of his ideology. Indeed, Simms asserts that Hitler’s negative attitude toward the West and capitalism, rather than his fear of the Judeo-Bolshevik “threat,” are critical to understanding the policy goals of the Third Reich. Hitler routinely decried the migration of “Germanic blood” to the States and what he felt was the weakening of the Reich’s demographic base. This obsession was tied to his understanding of the control of international capitalism (centered in New York), making his decision to declare war on America as part of a discernible pattern. The argument feels forced at times, yet Simms points to some important correctives in our study of Hitler’s ideology. For example, prior to 1933, the führer feared the threat of regionalism, especially the potential breakaway of Bavaria from the German state, as much as he was concerned with communism.
VERDICT A new perspective on a figure whose actions continue to have a profound and lasting impact on world history.

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