The Unfathomable Ascent: How Hitler Came to Power

Little, Brown. May 2020. 464p. ISBN 9780316435123. $29. HIST
Picking up the story he started in 1924: The Year that Made Hitler (2016), Range describes the near decade-long process (1924-33) that culminated in Adolf Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor of Germany. The author is particularly adept at describing the byzantine plot twists of Weimar politics that first brought Hitler to the point of political oblivion by 1928, only to see his fortunes rescued by the economic crisis of the Great Depression, which made Nazis a powerful political force in Germany. The depiction of the self-destruction of German democracy makes for sober reading. Range does not break any new historical ground, and periodically he makes broad assertions that, though attention-grabbing, are of questionable historical value. For example, it is unlikely that many historians would accept the assertion that the Nazi party was a “smoothly running political machine.”
VERDICT Despite a few missteps, Range exhibits a deft hand at keeping track of the multiple plot lines of German politics. This will be of interest to readers of his previous book and those looking for more insight into the beginnings of Hitler’s rise to power.

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