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on May 27, 2011
Hicks provides a wonderful case study for the importance of philosophy by means of showing the extent to which ideas and ideals drove the Nazis. For those of us who have been trained by countless accounts of the Nazi ideology as merely the barbaric notions of a crazed Hitler, Hicks provides important reminders of just how deeply German intellectuals and students subscribed to Nazi ideology as a set of important ideals for cultural rejuvenation. Hicks does not simply indict Nietzsche, and includes a clear analysis of ways in which Nazi ideology was and was not consistent with Nietzsche's ideas, despite the explicit worship of Nietzsche by many leading Nazis. In addition, Hicks provides a broader perspective on the extent to which German intellectuals at the time had bought into racial theories and eugenics (as had many intellectuals in the Anglo-American world on both the left and the right). He also documents clearly the roots of National Socialism as a deliberate, and explicit integration of Nationalism and Socialism, starting with the Nazi platform of 1920 (which is included as an appendix to the book).

Hicks' perspective is personal, easy to read, and a compelling narrative. The book is illustrated with Nazi photos, posters and book covers from the 1920s and 30s giving a visceral chill to the reader as one realizes that these ideas formed the popular ideals of an entire generation. This book would provide a great introduction to the role of ideas in history for anyone who is interested in one of the most horrific case studies (along with communism) in the history of humanity.
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on December 26, 2012
The title of this book is far too modest. If you've ever wondered how the barbaric horrors perpetrated by the National Socialists - Nazis - could have been carried out by a country that was near the apogee of 20th century civilization, if you've ever wondered what could possibly explain the purposeful, deliberate slaughter of twenty million people - this is the book for you. Stephen Hicks demonstrates how the Nazis rationalized evil. They thought of themselves as highly idealistic crusaders for a noble cause. Ideas rule the world, and the Nazis were a horrific case in point. Some of the ideas behind their bloody movement still have wide currency in the 21st century, as Hicks demonstrates with appropriate quotes.
He concludes with the first and second rules of politics.The second is Know Your Enemy. The first: Know Yourself. Know what you stand for and why. Know the principles that are the direct opposites of the Nazis'. You will find them summarized on page 106. Finally, having shown in great detail that the Nazis knew what they stood for, Hicks asks: do we? Study this book and you will. Highly recommended.
-Larry Abrams, author, The Philosophical Practitioner
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on January 4, 2014
I read this book almost immediately after receiving it but I have had difficulty gathering my thoughts and deciding how to review it, not because the book itself was difficult to read; but because I was unsure how to approach this small jewel of a book. I decided to lay out some of the reasons why I both think highly of this book and like it as well.

Looking at its title, Nietzsche and the Nazis, I wondered what kind of book is this. Is it history, biography, some combination of both with sociology, or something else? The subtitle, "A Personal View", suggests that the author will inject his own personal opinions into the narrative in some manner. Looking at the Table of Contents we find that it is in fact something else; namely a book primarily about philosophy. In fact, the first three parts of the book have philosophy in their titles. This is one of the reasons I like the book. Books about philosophy appeal to me; especially well-written and well-reasoned books like this one.

The introduction identifies the aim of this book by highlighting how people in general tend to have an interest in history, and then briefly defining the philosophy of history. The author describes the philosophical perspective of history as one that "is a huge laboratory of experiments in human living." (p 3) The book specifically focuses on one "major experiment" in the twentieth century, the rise of the Nazis.
The remainder of the book methodically and very efficiently tells about the nature of Nazism: its philosophy, National Socialism's programs, and the effective means that the Nazis used while in power over the Third Reich. The discussion of the Nazis is then contrasted with the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. His life and influence is told through discussion of philosophical concepts that were key in his work such as nihilism, the death of God, the slave mentality, and the "overman". Having laid out the ideas of the Nazis and those of Nietzsche the book's climax presents the important differences between Nietzsche's thought and Nazism. This includes a discussion of ways in which Nietzsche's thought can be seen as a precursor of Nazism; they agree in such key areas as anti-individualism, anti-reason, and authoritarianism.

The book is excellent in several respects. It has a clarity of purpose and a logical structure. The principles of both the National Socialists and Nietzsche are well defined; in addition the conclusion highlights those principles which oppose the Nazis. This approach lets readers make their own decision about which principles they stand for. There are also helpful appendices that highlight relevant quotations on the ideas presented. If you are fascinated by history this book is a great place to discover both the reasons for one of the most important episodes in the history of the modern world and why each of us need to understand those reasons.
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on December 5, 2013
This is a concisely written book. The language is clear, to the point, and a pleasure to read. It corrects many widespread misconceptions about Nietzsche. I was surprised how much I "knew" was false. Professor Hicks demonstrates his mastery of the subject via quotes and analysis that prove his points. He shows the true linkage between Nietzsche and the Nazis, and how philosophical ideas move the world. I plan to give this book as a gift to several friends. I hope Professor Hicks makes this book the first of a series on pivotal philosophers because he has the talent to explain philosophy in clear fundamentals. The economy of his written style reminds me of Thomas Paine's famous pamphlet "Common Sense". Nietzsche and the Nazis was a joy to read. Imagine a philosophy book that is a page turner!
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on May 23, 2015
As a philosophy student preparing to enter a graduate program, I found Doctor Hick's portrayal of Nietzsche to be very insightful. I have studied National Socialism and Marxist socialism for years trying to understand how the two ideologies compare with each other. On the subject of the ideological and philosophical foundations of Nazism, it is the most accurate I have seen to date. It is certainly more accurate than the standard academic portrayal. This may be because Hicks does not follow the inaccurate left or right dichotomy of who the Nazi's were, but instead he relies heavily on solid information available to the public at large. He takes great pains to show and explain why the Nazi's were both very Socialist and anti capitalist. His breakdown and comparison of Nietzsche's own literary texts against Nazi propaganda and literature leads to some surprising but undeniable conclusions. If you are interested in Existentialism, and how existential philosophy has over the years influenced the real world, then you are going to love this.
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on January 9, 2014
A fascinating overview of Nietzsche and most of his ideology being mutated into something dangerous. Too bad it's too short, meaning the book was. In other words, most of the details were left out. For example, Nietzsche had a fallout with Wagner concerning German nationalism and antisemitism. And his sister was mostly responsible for distorting his philosophy. Plus the fact that he didn't entirely believe in the Übermensch. Still, this book didn't detract from what it has set out to do: Taking a hard look at the nazi ideology and dangerous allure that seemed reasonable to an average layman.
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on February 27, 2016
Hicks really knows his stuff. This is not the first book of his I have read, and he dispenses with the usual hubris and obfuscation of professional philosophers and academicians, and cuts through the ideological fog for lay readers who want accurate information in digestible no-nonsense form. Ideas move the world and Hicks is an expert at exposing many of history's best kept secrets about how we got to where we are.
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on February 19, 2014
I like it because the writer cleared up a lot of the questions I had on the two subjects of Nietzsche and Hitler. For the price, I would Recommend this book to any one who is interested in reading on Stephen R. C. Hicks perspective.
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on June 20, 2014
Excellent and needed by everyone, this work by Hicks should be required reading for EVERYONE. Without doubt this is a profound study of the philosophic underpinning of all fascist thinking, then and now.
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on May 15, 2015
I saw the 3 hour long video by Mr. Hicks based on this book years ago on Netflix (which is excellent), and was anxious to read the book. It's a very interesting conversation regarding how late 19th and early 20th century 'progressive' philosophers laid the intellectual foundation for the Nazis. Anyone who wonders how the educated, civilized Germanic people could embrace such a monstrous movement as Nazism should take the time to read this book, you will be rewarded.
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