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Hitlerland: American Eyewitnesses to the Nazi Rise to Power Hardcover – March 13, 2012
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“Andrew Nagorski has written an entertaining chronicle…‘Hitlerland’ brings back to life some early delusions about Hitler’s rise that now seem unthinkable. Any reader trying to puzzle out today’s world will be unsettled by the reminder of how easy it is to get things wrong.” --The Economist
“riveting….this is a book that is full of things I never knew, and I found all of them interesting. It should be on everybody’s ‘must read’ list who is interested in history.”--The Daily Beast, Michael Korda
"Hitlerland is a bit of guilty pleasure... fascinating."-Washington Post
"Compulsively readable and deeply researched"-The Weekly Standard
"A compelling work for World War II history buffs or anyone who wants to understand how such devastating evil emerged while the world seemingly watched"– Library Journal
"An engrossing study of the times made more fascinating and incredible in retrospect...contextually rich...[a] well marshaled study."– Kirkus
“Andrew Nagorski, a deft storyteller, has plumbed the dispatches, diaries, letters, and interviews of American journalists, diplomats and others who were present in Berlin to write a fascinating account of a fateful era.”
“Andrew Nagorski once again turns his perceptive, seasoned foreign correspondent's eye to a dramatic historical subject. This eye-opening account of the Americans in 1920s and 1930s Berlin offers a totally new perspective on a subject we thought we already knew. “
-Anne Applebaum, author of Gulag: A History
"Andrew Nagorski’s Hitlerland is a fresh, compelling portrait of Nazi Germany, as seen through the eyes of a fascinating array of Americans who lived and worked there during Hitler’s rise to power. The extraordinary saga of Putzi Hanfstaengl, a Harvard graduate who became Hitler’s court jester, is just one of the many page-turning stories that makes Hitlerland a book not to be missed."
-Lynne Olson, author of Citizens of London
“The rise of Hitler and the Nazi state, one of the most consequential and profound narratives in all of world politics, receives compelling new treatment in Andrew Nagorski’s outstanding Hitlerland. By illuminating the disparate experiences of the era’s preeminent American diplomats, journalists, intellectuals and others, Nagorski has created an engrossing, harrowing and vividly drawn mosaic of eyewitness accounts to one of history’s most phenomenal catastrophes.”
-Gordon M. Goldstein, author of Lessons In Disaster: McGeorge Bundy and the Path to War in Vietnam
“At times deliciously gossipy, at times thoroughly chilling, Hitlerland offers countless novel insights into Germany’s evolution from struggling democracy in the 1920s to totalitarian dictatorship in the 1930s. The intimate portraits from Hitler down add an almost tangible sense of the foibles, ambitions, insecurities and perversities of the relatively small top Nazi elite whose actions plunged our world into a catastrophe from which we are yet fully to recover. The Americans themselves come alive as a group of intense, enterprising journalists and diplomats faced with the greatest challenge of their lives.”
-Misha Glenny, author of The Balkans 1804-1999
“This is an excellent, ably-written, in-depth, and well-illustrated treatment of a hitherto-overlooked aspect of the Third Reich: before, during , and even after its fall . . . a true gem . . . an entertaining read . . . ” (Military Advisor)
About the Author
Award-winning journalist Andrew Nagorski is vice president and director of public policy at the EastWest Institute, a New York-based international affairs think tank. During a long career at Newsweek, he served as the magazine’s bureau chief in Hong Kong, Moscow, Rome, Bonn, Warsaw, and Berlin. He is the author of four previous books and has written for countless publications. He lives in Pelham Manor, New York.
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But these books are, of necessity, generalized and they are primarily concerned with political history, military history, and/or economic history.
There have also been some books written from Germans individuals' points of view, such as the two Saul Friedlander books Nazi Germany and the Jews: Volume 1: The Years of Persecution 1933-1939 and The Years of Extermination: Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1939-1945 as well as those by Victor Klemperer I Will Bear Witness: A Diary of the Nazi Years, 1933-1941 and I Will Bear Witness 1942-1945: A Diary of the Nazi Years.
But these are told, obviously, from the German (Jewish) point of view. What about the American point of view?
While there were many Americans living and working in Germany during the Weimar Republic and after, other than "Berlin Diary," (one man's point of view) I had read no books about these other Americans' varied views about actual life there during the Republic and during its collapse and replacement by the Nazi dictatorship. Recently, Erik Larson wrote an excellent book In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin about the first US Ambassador to Nazi Germany, William Dodd and his family. This book is superb reading material (and I highly recommend it to you) but, concentrating on the Dodd family who came to Germany only in 1933, it does not go into much detail about the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis during the 1920s.
Andrew Nagorski's new Hitlerland: American Eyewitnesses to the Nazi Rise to Power is the first book I have ever seen which discusses MANY individual Americans' impressions of this rise and later consolidation. Though the book itself is written with the benefit of hindsight, the quotations from many people - including William L. Shirer, Howard K. Smith, other American correspondents and broadcasters, William Dodd, Truman Smith and his wife, and other American diplomats, many other "ordinary" Americans who happened either to be living there or just visiting, and even Ernst 'Putzi' Hanfstaengl and his wife, as well as a few other Nazi "insiders" - all of the quotations were written at the time, in other words, WITHOUT the benefit of hindsight.
These writings are taken from diaries, articles, and books (both published and unpublished).
It is the "you are there" feeling which makes this book so valuable. Essentially social history, it shows the day-by-day rise of the Nazis and their attainment and consolidation of power in what had been the most civilized country in the world, as viewed by Americans living there - some in high positions, but mostly ordinary people.
I'm certain that nothing like this has ever been written before.
None of the above would be of much use to the average reader if the writing itself were mediocre and pedantic. Fortunately, this is NOT the case. Andrew Nagorski is a writer who knows how to tell a story and who knows how to organize the varied (and often contradictory) published and unpublished writings of the actual authors, both their writings at the time as well as their writings after the fact (and sometimes they tried to 'clarify' - that is revise - what they had actually written and thought at the time). His writing is both very interesting and very informative.
Some Americans tried to ignore the situation altogether. Some were either "neutral" or pro-Nazi. And some were most definitely anti-Nazi. Some started off as one but. through observation and sometimes personal experiences, became the other. But all of their writings are extremely interesting and very valuable.
I personally thank Andrew Nagorski for undertaking this monumental effort. I had trouble putting the book down! I think anyone who is interested in this facet of 20th Century history will also find this book to be an excellent resource and good reading.
There is a voluminous and useful Notes section as well as an excellent Bibliography.
I give this book my highest recommendation.
A couple sentences from the book stuck with me. From page 162 of the hardcover edition:
In his largely forgotten novel The Traitor that he wrote after the war, [William] Shirer expounded on his feelings at the time. ..... "Not so with the Germans the instructor continued. Despite Bach, Beethoven, Schhiller and Goethe, their culture was mere veneer so thin that their barbarism -- the pagan barbarism of the German forests -- is continually threatening to break through and engulf them. "
William Shirer, who wrote The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, was one of many in Germany during Hitler's rise to power and is quoted in the book.