Top positive review
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Thoughtful, valuable, highly accessible account
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.