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Albert Speer: His Battle with Truth Paperback – October 29, 1996
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Throughout, Sereny consciously avoids the pitfall of many Speer biographers, who seek to either blame or exculpate Speer for the Nazi's atrocities. Instead, she succeeds in helping the reader understand a "morally extinguished" man and place into context "all the crimes against humanity which Hitler initiated, which continue to threaten us today, and of which Speer, who was in many ways a man of excellence, sadly enough made himself a part." Well over 700 pages, Albert Speer is not a quick read, but superbly written and meticulously researched, it is a pleasure to read, providing unprecedented insight into one of the most complex figures in modern German history. --Bertina Loeffler --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
From 1932 to 1944 Speer served Hitler with his heart and his soul. After the crisis in his personal life, illness and realization of the war being lost, came a time for Speer to gradually realize that he was serving and evil man. As always in the relationship, this was colored in profoundly personal terms, and due to his calling and upbringing matched into romantic showdown (I am referring to Speer's famous confession in the bunker on the eve of the demise of the Third Reich, which the author implies might not even had happened.) At Nuremberg, Speer was the only defendant who accepted a principle of collective responsibility unconditionally, versed however in smart and carefully terms which might've saved his neck in the long term. There we see the beginning of the personal struggle with guilt and a difficult road to truth.Read more ›
How many biographers have had the opportunity to actively challenge their subjects' veracity? Not content to leave even the (seemingly) most minute details to chance, Sereny conducted exhaustive archival research and background interviews with Speer's family, friends, former associates, and enemies. This allows her to face Speer on equal footing -- and thus reveals new insights on the most enigmatic of Hitler's ministers.
While the central theme of the book revolves around the question of what Speer knew about the Final Solution, and when he knew about it, the story of how one man could be almost wholly seduced by evil is also investigated. The reader will learn that Speer, unloved as a child, came under Hitler's influence in the way that many young men with lacunas in their souls will come to misidentify membership in a collective enterprise with their own self-worth.
In fact, if, as William Manchester said, Speer's 'Inside the Third Reich' "takes us through the looking-glass," then Sereny's book represents the adventures in Wonderland itself. The history of Hitler's Germany is seen from the unique context of the Hitler-Speer relationship. Far from relying on one-dimensional oversimplification, though, Sereny explores just how masterfully the Nazi hierarchy came to power and prosecuted a war -- proving once again that evil is not always overt and monstrous, but subtle and palliative.
Was Speer a dissembler? Was he sincere in his attempt to atone for his particpation in an evil regime? I will leave the reader to his own conclusions.Read more ›
This book is never dry and never didactic. Unlike like some historians, Ms. Sereny never forgets that at the root of her story lie human beings, and righfully they should be at the center of any story of human history. She always relates it back to the human being.
I find Publisher's Weekly's assertion that she was his apologist to be laughable; she never, ever lets him off the hook. One feels that she is a very moral human being.
This 700+ page book is never dull. The portrait she etches of Albert Speer and the people of his time is indelible; I doubt you will ever forget it. And if you live with your books the way I do you will find yourself thinking about your own morality when you are through.
I read her "Marybelle" book a few years ago and was bowled over by it; it is as fine a book as the Speer book though much smaller. In this country where we are having a field day charging and sentencing children as adults it is a necessity to read.
Let me end this by saying Gitta Sereny is of the caliber of Hannah Arendt, though the better writer!
He noticed Jews being lined up at the Berlin train station to be taken somewhere; he didn't have the inclination or the time to find out why or where. He noticed that his boss had started a war; he was too busy to wonder whether the war was justified--he was an architect and any number of projects had to be attended to. His boss ordered him to assume leadership of armaments production for the war; refusing the order was not an option. He discovered that armaments production was accomplished largely by slaves, who died in great numbers at their work. Perhaps he heard of work areas where very little work was done and very, very large numbers of people died, of causes unrelated to work. Perhaps he did not. Sereny's book is largely a probe into whether he knew about the extermination camps or not.
Of his repentance after the war there can be little doubt. He quarrels in Spandau with the other Nazis over whether they did anything wrong. He is mocked by one of his closest former Nazi friends for his "public mea culpas". He speaks with a chaplain in Spandau about his desire to make himself a "different man".Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Have just started to read , Lots of detail I'm sure it will be informative once I get the pace downPublished 1 month ago by Barbara Rickman
I the process of reading the book, I had heard about it a few years back but didn't think it was possible to get a copy.Published 1 month ago by Luc Lauirn
I found this book profoundly interesting and profound in other ways. Gitta Sereny avoids the clichés and facile conclusions. She writes with warmth and depth of knowledge. Read morePublished 1 month ago by sylvia goldwasser
Well written despite being dated. Interesting insight to Speer. Sheds new light on his early years for me and the inner workings of Hitler and Nazi GermanyPublished 9 months ago by mg111
Page 718 my book
This was a man who knew more about that bane of our century, Hitler, than anyone else. Read more
Sereny's style is irreproachable and this book offers profound insights. Its uncomfortable to read, especially for those of us who grew up knowing Speer's involvement with the Nazi... Read morePublished 12 months ago by D. Waterman
This is an excellent look at Hilter's friend and favorite architect. It is just the right mix of first-person interviews, Speer in his own words, and analysis. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Doug Thompson