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Hitler Hardcover – March 27, 2012

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; First Edition edition (March 27, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465031285
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465031283
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.8 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #526,652 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Andrew Roberts, author of The Storm of War: A New History of the Second World War
“In the best short biography of Adolf Hitler for three decades, A. N. Wilson goes straight to the essentials to explain what made the Fuhrer the phenomenon he was. His conclusions make fascinating, if occasionally uncomfortable, reading even two-thirds of a century after Hitler’s death.”

Robert Gellately, author of Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler: The Age of Social Catastrophe
“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.”

Kirkus Reviews
“[Wilson] provides a useful, even entertaining, life of Hitler. He revisits the expected events – his rise, his incarceration, Mein Kampf, his vicious henchman, his anti-Semitism, his enormous prewar popularity (not just in Germany), his poor military judgment, his women, his fall and death – and adds some nasty details (he couldn’t control his farting; he was lazy and dressed oddly).”
“[A] sharply focused capsule biography…. A portrait as disturbing as it is succinct.”
Tucson Citizen
“This well-crafted book cuts to the chase and reveals surprising facts about one of the most reviled figures in history…. 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.”
Express (London)
“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…. A stimulating triumph of the mind.”
The American Prospect
“[The] lesser-known facts, the telling details for which Wilson has a keen eye, are what make this biography stand out…. Wilson, whenever der Führer threatens to become a caricature of the madman with which we are all familiar, drops in a detail that, as hard to accept as it may be, reminds us that Hitler was a human being with many of the same joys, difficulties, and sorrows as the rest of us. For a brief biography of one of the largest figures of the 20th century, the inclusion of such detail is an accomplishment…. 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.”

Wall Street Journal
“Provocative…. Noting how much Hitler depended on his speeches (even ‘Mein Kampf’ was dictated), Mr. Wilson calls him the ‘most hypnotic artist of post-literacy.’ Like today’s radio talk-show ‘entertainers,’ Hitler knew there was something about the spoken word that could galvanize millions. Rather than focus on Hitler’s ideology, the biographer brilliantly singles out his subject’s style of attack.”
Mail on Sunday
“[An] entertaining, short biography…. [Wilson] bring[s] a witty, novelist’s insight into what made Hitler tick. He seems to understand Hitler’s character in a way many historians never could.”
Boston Globe
“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.”
“As Europe convulses over seemingly unpayable debts and other economic troubles, British novelist and journalist A.N. Wilson offers Hitler, which explores the worst byproduct of such European paroxysms.”

New York Times Book Review
 “[Wilson] evocatively catalogs the qualities of the young Hitler…. All this Wilson captures with cool wit and an appropriate deadpan sneer. 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.”
Asbury Park Press 
“Wilson’s biography of the Führer and his ascent to power is short, but concise and well researched…. [Wilson’s] analysis ducks in and out of paragraphs like a talented prize fighter and gives fresh analysis of an old, but unforgettable subject.”
The Courier-Journal 
“A.N. Wilson’s book is an excellent primer on one of the most horrendous figures yet to live.”
Providence Journal
Hitler is a slender but insightful volume about the evil instigator of World War II and the murderer of millions.”

About the Author

A.N. Wilson is a renowned British journalist and author.  He is the author of several acclaimed biographies, including Tolstoy, C.S. Lewis, Jesus, and Paul. He taught for seven years at Oxford before becoming a journalist. A frequent contributor to the Daily Mail, the Times Literary Supplement, New Statesman, The Spectator, and The Observer, Wilson lives in London.

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Customer Reviews

This ludicrous axe won't grind.
Mr. Wilson doesn't go into great detail - it is a short biography - but well written and very interesting.
Some times, facts have to be ignored to make your case, and sell yet another "Hitler" book.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Noel TOP 1000 REVIEWER on June 20, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The life of the most reviled man in history is always a tricky subject. Not the perspective (which is universally one of the utmost horror) but the manner of its telling. I think because AN Wilson has written "A Short Biography" of Adolf Hitler, that most will look upon this modest, and yes short, 190-page book as inconsequential as such a study of this person must require far more pages to be worth the reading. After all, how to compress the man who arguably shaped the modern world into its current incarnation, into such a relatively short book compared to say, Ian Kershaw's "Hubris" and "Nemesis" books totalling 2100 pages?

Wilson does this by covering the facts in a swift, concise fashion without too much detail or extensive background minutiae than is absolutely necessary. He doesn't miss out anything important but nor does he go into enormous detail which isn't to say that you come away with an incomplete idea of the man but that this book presents an informative biography of Hitler that will appeal to the non-academic and casual student of history for whom someone like Kershaw is intimidating to pick up.

What's interesting about this biography is that Wilson has a biased opinion of Hitler; like all of us he is disgusted with the Nazi regime and Hitler as a person, but unlike other biographers who adopt a neutral, just-the-facts-stance, Wilson frequently editorialises upon the events of Hitler's life as they unfold. He berates the young Hitler for his foolishness and laziness in squandering his family's money in pursuing a fruitless art career and not attempting any form of work.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By westshore on February 18, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Having not read much on Hitler, I choose this book as I thought it could provide a good overview of his life and views. The author portrayed Hitler as a small, sniveling and undriven man which he may have been but... it makes me wonder if he had insight into the whole of his character. How could such a man, as described, grip the minds of a nation and gain so much power? I would have liked to have known more about his upbringing and his influences to have a better understanding of his philosophical views.

The author, in my opinion, takes a biased and opinionated approach to his description of Hitler.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Cary B. Barad on July 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Worth reading for some additional twists and insights into the formation and rise to power of a megolomanic dictator. Hitler's chronic unemployment and general lack of ambition prior to assuming the role of Party leader receives special emphasis, as does the confluence of world events that contributed to his unbelievable rise from middle class obscurity and mediocrity to historical player on the world stage. By way of criticism the author reverts to some unnecessary "sermonizing" in his concluding chapter, which states the obvious and detracts somewhat from the overall objectivity of this biography.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By jackson on May 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Reading about monsters isn't only for kids. Nevertheless it can be uncomfortable walking about with a tome like "Hitler" or "Stalin" under your arm as you head for the beach. Wilson is a prolific "book-by-the-gross" author and even in this short book several edits should have been made. However, for a quick inciteful study of this strange man and his evil legacy, "Hitler" is a good place to start. One caution, Wilson has an obvious antipathy for the Catholic Church. Be wary as he compares Nuremburg rallies with Lourdes processions and finds the genisis of Dachau in the Gospels. This ludicrous axe won't grind. That being said - recommended.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Mr. D. James on August 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover
A.N.Wilson, Hitler

Adept at crossing the gulf between fact and fiction, Wilson here attempts a straight biography - subtitled A Short Biography - of the Adolf Hitler we know as the man who `instigated the mass-murder of as many as 6 million Jews. He forced Western Europe, and eventually the whole world, into a calamitous war in which over 50 million Europeans were killed.' Is this true? More to the point is it accurate? But, never mind the accuracy of the statistics, how does one man accomplish all this single-handed, let alone why?

In other words, Wilson's so-called biography is yet another cri de coeur, and very far from an objective account of the man, his motives and his make-up. / Apart from Wilson's persistently Chaplinesque attempt to reduce his subject to a cartoon figure - harking for example on his rages, his `lousy postcard paintings,' his hypochondria, his flatulence, his idleness and his repeated blunders - there is nothing especially new in this biography.

Nevertheless, one cannot deny that this is an entertaining account of the rise and fall of a megalomaniac who strutted the world stage for two decades. An amalgam of Siegfried and Napoleon, this failed painter who couldn't even open a can of meat is the perfect subject for a comic novel. Perhaps Wilson should have given us that rather than this eclectic rehash of primary sources. But for those seeking facts rather than a good laugh I would advise them to consult Martin Gilbert's A History of the Twentieth Century, Volume Two: 1933-1951.
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