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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (96 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: A. N. Wilson Narrator: Ralph Cosha Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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A ruthless dictator who saved his country from economic ruin only to nearly destroy it—and an entire people—in his quest for world domination, Adolf Hitler forever changed the course of history. In this masterful account of Hitler’s life, biographer A. N. Wilson pulls back the curtain to reveal the man behind the mythic figure, shedding new light on Hitler’s personality, his desires, and his complex relationship with the German people.

While Hitler maintained that his life had been characterized by “struggle” from its very beginnings, Wilson shows that the reality could not have been more different.  Hitler grew up in middle-class comfort and, as a young man, lacked ambitions of any sort besides a vaguely bohemian desire to become an artist. And while the Hitlerian mythos holds that he forged his skills as a leader during the First World War, Wilson explains the truth: Hitler spent most of the war as an office boy miles from the front lines and only received his cherished Iron Cross because of his slavishness to the officers he served. The army gave him a sense of purpose and brotherhood, however, which continued to inspire Hitler once the war ended.

Hitler left the army with no skills, contacts, or money—and yet, within fourteen years he would become chancellor of the German nation. Wilson describes the story of Hitler’s ascent as one of both opportunism and sheer political shrewdness. He possessed no real understanding of the workings of government but had a prodigious knack for public speaking and found that a large number of Germans, despairing at their country’s recent defeat and terrified by the specter of international communism, were willing to listen to the right-wing fantasies that had taken root inside his head. Allying himself with the extremist German Workers’ Party, soon renamed the National Socialist Party, Hitler offered many Germans a seductive vision of how the country might raise itself back up and reclaim its rightful place at the center of world politics.

Wilson shows that, although Hitler’s bid for power stalled at first, he soon gained traction with a German public starved for hope. Using his skills as a manipulator, Hitler found himself first at the head of the Nazi Party, then at the helm of the German nation. Wilson explores the forces that allowed Hitler to become chancellor of Germany and later to march Germany into total war. He examines Hitler’s increasingly virulent anti-Semitism and his decision to implement the Final Solution to exterminate European Jews, and he considers Hitler’s tactical successes—and failures—in World War II. Wilson also reveals a great deal about how Hitler’s personal life affected his time as Germany’s leader, from the lasting pain caused by the death of his mother and the suicide of his young niece to his poor health and addiction to the drugs prescribed by his doctor. As Wilson demonstrates, Hitler the führer was not so different from Hitler the bohemian: lazy, moody, and hypersensitive, he ruled more through intimidation and the mystifying force of his personality than through any managerial skill or informed decision making. His story—and that of Germany—is ultimately a cautionary tale. In a modern era enamored with progress, rationality, and modernity, it is often the darkest and most chaotic elements of society that prove the most seductive.

Hitler’s unlikely rise to power and his uncanny ability to manipulate his fellow man resulted in the deaths of millions of Europeans and a horrific world war, yet despite his colossal role in world history, he remains mythologized and, as a result, misunderstood. In Hitler, A. N. Wilson limns this mysterious figure with great verve and acuity, showing that it is Hitler’s frightening normalcy—not some otherworldly evilness—that makes him so truly terrifying.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Wilson…evocatively catalogs the qualities of the young Hitler…Wilson is also effective when he recreates Hitler’s rise to political prominence…[He] makes palpably real for readers the cataclysmic effects of economic collapse. He rightly stresses the centrality of anti-Jewish rhetoric and policy to Hitler’s popular appeal. Wilson is also impressively pointed in his account of the world’s indifference, even deliberate inattention, to the plight of Europe’s Jews. The sections on diplomacy are deft and full of dramatic flair and original judgments.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “In the best short biography of Adolf Hitler for three decades, A. N. Wilson goes straight to the essentials to explain what made the Führer the phenomenon he was. His conclusions make fascinating, if occasionally uncomfortable, reading even two-thirds of a century after Hitler’s death.”

    Andrew Roberts, award-winning author

  • “Noting how much Hitler depended on his speeches (even Mein Kampf was dictated), Mr. Wilson calls him the ‘most hypnotic artist of post-literacy’…Rather than focus on Hitler’s ideology, the biographer brilliantly singles out his subject’s style of attack.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “Distilling his own career-long study into a tight, rapid-fire volume that is both portrait and warning, Wilson delivers a statement on Hitler that is insightful.”

    Boston Globe

  • “Wilson has written a readable and sometimes fascinating essay.”

    Seattle Times

  • “[Wilson is] superb at putting himself in the shoes of others and sketching the mood of a time with a few strokes of the pen.”

    Observer (UK)

  •  “Wilson has opted for brevity and sharp metal, skewering, and brilliantly dissecting Hitler bare in a book you can almost read in a sitting. Wilson cuts to the dark heart of the matter…Wilson’s Hitler is a stimulating triumph of the mind.”

    Express (UK)

  • “This well-crafted book cuts to the chase and reveals surprising facts about one of the most reviled figures in history…This is a fascinating book that underscores the fact that even in a modern era enamored with progress and rationality, the darkest elements of society can sometimes fester and become the most seductive.”

    Tucson Citizen

  • “A. N. Wilson is a born biographer and has an eye for the telling detail. In a book written with verve, insight, and imagination, he gives us a fresh look at Hitler. The story he tells is bound to interest and surprise even those who think they already know and understand this most curious historical figure, one who against all odds rose to become leader of Germany and then promptly brought about the greatest catastrophe in European history.”

    Robert Gellately, author of Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler

  • “Engaging…[The] lesser-known facts, the telling details for which Wilson has a keen eye, are what make this biography stand out…A.N. Wilson’s biography provides a succinct, quick-reading introduction to Hitler that deftly manages the essentials, and, in its truly terrifying accomplishment, begins to bring the human being behind the monstrous Führer back to life.”

    American Prospect

  • “Adding to the enormous literature on Hitler, prolific British biographer and novelist Wilson focuses as much on the man and his relationships as on his actions and times.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “[A] sharply focused capsule biography…A portrait as disturbing as it is succinct.”


  • “The award-winning journalist, biographer, and novelist offers a short, often pugnacious biography of the Führer…A useful, even entertaining, life of Hitler.”

    Kirkus Reviews

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Ward | 1/8/2014

    " Well-written short biography "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by David | 12/16/2013

    " The author is too opinionated. He calls Hitler a demon-king, the SA a bunch of "arabs" on the streets. It was an okay book for the VERY basic history of Adolf Hitler to his end in the Chancellery bunker. I wouldn't recommend this book if you were looking for a decent history of Hitler. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Diana Petty-stone | 12/10/2013

    " I chose this book as a reading assignment from my book group to read something about WW11. I's actually glad I did because it helped to to understand a little bit more about the deranged mind of Hitler. It also led me to read more books about that war. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by David Coon | 11/20/2013

    " Great general bio of Hitler. "

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