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Adolf Hitler: The Definitive Biography Paperback – December 1, 1991

4.6 out of 5 stars 193 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“The first book that anyone who wants to learn about Hitler or [World War II] in Europe must read. . . . A marvel.” —Newsweek

“Toland weaves the epic tapestry of popular history, meshing together thousands of details into monumental narratives of wartime drama.” —Chicago Tribune

“An unusually revealing picture . . . highly detailed . . . marvelously absorbing  . . . must be ranked as one of the most complete pictures of Hitler.” —The New York Times

“A significant contribution.” —Houston Chronicle

From the Publisher

A national bestseller with more than 370,000 copies in print, this is "the first book that anyone who wants to learn about Hitler or the war in Europe must read... a marvel of fact."--Newsweek
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 1120 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; 1st edition (January 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385420536
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385420532
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (193 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #253,240 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Barron Laycock HALL OF FAME on June 21, 2000
Format: Paperback
For anyone truly interested in finding and reading a definitive biography of Adolph Hitler, this is the book. This work is at once carefully documented and scholarly yet is also eminently readable and entertaining. Although there is no single volume that adequately explains the mysterious truth of Adolph Hitler the phenomenon, author John Toland delivers a most informative and exhaustively researched manuscript that does help us to understand Adolph Hitler the man. Toland spent several years researching this book with intensive interviews by surviving principals, and had access to a wide range of archival data and previously unpublished data and facts. The result is this magisterial work.

This is a book much like Toland's previous efforts in that it concentrates heavily on interviews with a literal torrent of people who had significant contact and knowledge of Hitler, from those who surrounded him in his rise to power, and who followed him into the ash and ruins of the embattled and besieged Third Reich. From his early days in Austria, to his school boy experiences and the discouraging failures of his early adulthood, through the heady but painful days as a volunteer in the front lines during World War I, Toland faithfully traces the rise and growth of this strange young man as he falls prey to a variety of venomous and unfortunate ideas and prejudices that mark him for life, and set the path to the kind of pathological aberrances that characterized his beliefs and behaviors from that point on.

Yet Toland makes a painful effort to be non-judgmental, and carefully presents all the facts as he can best determine them.
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As an amateur student of WWII history I have tried hard to understand more about how the major "players" came to be, thought, and operated before, during, and after (when applicable) the war. John Toland's biography of Hitler is an amazing piece of historical literature!! If you've ever read any of Toland's books (I've read "Battle: The Story of the Bulge" and "The Last 100 Days" - both excellent) you know he can convey a story that makes the words feel alive. He does that here equally as well in a 900 page masterpiece. He starts with a historical background of the Hitler lineage (and possible Jewish blood!) and ends in with various Nazi elites and their capture, deaths, etc after the fall of Berlin and Hitler's suicide. In between we get a marvelous picture of a child Adolf - his closeness to his mother and estrangement from his father; a young man searching for his place - time spent in Vienna flop houses struggling to survive, failing to acheive and finding his place in the political upheaval leading to the Great War; his time at the front - from runner to gassed Iron cross winner; his "Time of Struggle" in forming the NADSP and leading a failed putsch, prison, and release to a country ready to embrace him; to his rise to Chancellor, dictator, statesman, warlord, self-proclaimed Christ, mass murderer; to a broken, pre-aged, sickly man how ultimately takes his own life to avoid paying the butchers bill. Toland weaves a story that is both easy to read and historically engaging. I learned a lot and had fun doing it - just the way I love history!!!
Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback
This book has to be one of the longest biographies ever written about a historical figure, but it is greatly the worth the effort expended to read it. John Toland is as good a historian as one will ever experience in the modern era. His books, to a one, are eminently readable. There is no historian who has the ability to make his subjects appear so lifelike, even to those who lived long after the events he writes about. By taking actual quotes and putting them into proper context, Toland marinates a genre long known for its aridity. Hitler the man was as complex a person on the political stage as any that preceded him, or have followed. Toland wades through Hitler's many complexities and seeming contradictions, and sheds light on what drove the Fuhrer's madness and his need to bring Europe (and later the world) to the brink of destruction. Toland offers plausibility to what drove Hitler to vilify and massacre the Jewish race in Europe, his goals of conquest, and his political system...areas in which historians have argued about for generations. We learn many things about Hitler's childhood and early adulthood, things which may shed some light on the future dictator's raison d'etre. From a disappointing childhood to dreams of being an artist and architect in Vienna, Austria, to his service in the German army during World War I, Hitler's dreams of a Germanic empire are mapped out every stage of the way. Toland's treatment of Hitler is fair, which is deeply hard to do, as the leader of Germany's Third Reich has caused much misery and destruction to people all over the world. His detachment makes Hitler appear much more scarier.Read more ›
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