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Dead Funny: Humor in Hitler's Germany Hardcover – April 26, 2011
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“Dead Funny isn’t just a book of wildly off-limits humor. Rather, it’s a fascinating, heartbreaking look at power dynamics, propaganda, and the human hunger for catharsis.”
—The Atlantic, Best Books of 2012
“A concise, compelling book.”
"Fascinating... Intriguing....Herzog, the son of the film-maker Werner Herzog, shares his father’s curious and mordant wit."
—The Financial Times
“Dead Funny’s real value lies in the way it situates anti-Nazi folk humor in the shifting historical context of this grim bygone era, and the fact that the author is able to resuscitate such obscure jokes verbatim is a phenomenal feat … [the] book’s strikingly original historical research sets it apart from the glut of dry tomes which are still being cranked out about Nazi history.”
—Time Out (New York)
"Chilling....[Herzog] shows, in unadorned language, the process of propagandising and the psychological capitulation of many Germans to the Nazis’ will."
“Herzog’s thesis is that, during the Third Reich, Germans relished jokes about their leaders. Throughout Hitler's 12 years in power, there were plenty of caustic gags doing the rounds—about Dr Goebbels’ club foot, or Hitler's limp Nazi salute, which made him look like a waiter carrying a tray, or the widely held suspicion that Goering wore his medals in the bath.”
“Herzog demolishes the idea that Germans didn’t know what the Nazis were up to: there were many, many concentration camp jokes. Germans under Hitler seemed to find it natural, and kind of funny, that ‘troublemakers’—including Jews and dissidents—should end up behind barbed wire.”
Praise for the German Edition
"A thrilling book."
"The first comprehensive book on comedy and humor in the Third Reich. [...] The author brings together all manifestations of humor--wit, newspaper cartoons, cabaret, variety shows, entertainment, film, pop songs, and musicals... An important history."
About the Author
As a director, Rudolph Herzog is best known for the crime series The Heist, which aired on Channel 4 (U.K.) and was called “riveting” by The Daily Telegraph. His documentary on humor in the Third Reich, Laughing With Hitler, scored top audience ratings on German Channel 1 and was also broadcast in English translation on the BBC. The son of the celebrated filmmaker Werner Herzog, he lives in Berlin.
Jefferson Chase is one of the foremost translators of German history. He has translated Wolfgang Scivelbusch, Thomas Mann and Gotz Aly, among many others.
Top customer reviews
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The author briefly recounts the coming into power of the Nazis, their march towards world domination and their ultimate downfall, as described in so many other books. But in this case, the people’s discontent, low morale and negative opinions of the Nazis are reflected in jokes that they created at the time and retold. The Nazis’ reactions to these jokes and those who propagated them are also well described. Several jokes are recounted throughout the book - their themes reflecting the main events of the time.
Despite the fact that his book is a translation from the German, I found that it was very well done. The jokes are clear and the punch lines are unambiguous. When a German word used in a joke can have two meanings, both of these meanings are explained prior to providing the joke, thus enabling the reader to appreciate its nuances. I also found the author’s prose to be friendly, lively, accessible and immensely captivating. I believe that anyone can enjoy this wonderful book - especially history enthusiasts.
Most recent customer reviews
Herzog covers the use of humor during the Nazi era.Read more