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Heinrich Himmler: The Sinister Life of the Head of the SS and Gestapo

3.63  ·  Rating Details ·  391 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
Authors Roger Manvell and Heinrich Fraenkel, notable biographers of the World War II German leaders Joseph Goebbels and Herman Goring, delve into the life of one of the most sinister, clever, and successful of all the Nazi leaders: Heinrich Himmler. As the head of the feared SS, Himler supervised the extermination of millions. Here is the story of how a seemingly ordinary ...more
Paperback, 285 pages
Published September 17th 2007 by Skyhorse Publishing (first published 1965)
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Jean Poulos
This book is book three of a trilogy; the other two books were “Joseph Goebbels” and “Hermann Goring”. I understand this was the first in-depth biography of Himmler. This book on Himmler was first published in 1965.

Roger Manvell (1909-1987) died in 1987; he was born in London England. He was the first director of the British Film Academy. He was the author of many books on film making and on Nazi Germany. In 1975 he became a professor at Boston University. Manvell wrote this book with Heinrich F
There's a saying about the banality of evil. Heinrich Himmler, one of Adolf Hitler's henchmen and one of the architects of the Final Solution, proves the point. The man didn't have horns or a cloven foot. He didn't have the word EVIL stamped on his forehead. In fact, from all descriptions of those who knew him, he was a rather fussy, nondescript office-type bureaucrat who suffered from bad health his entire life. So how was it possible that someone so ordinary could wreck such havoc on millions ...more
Oct 16, 2010 S rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
Interesting, but a little difficult and confusing. The author points out that something is a fact, then contradicts himself towards the end of the book.

otherwise, not particularly enjoyable read, but full of information. Not a juicy book.
Written in 1965 before the Second World War became history not popular memory, this Himmler biography is now rather dated. It sets out to show him as a sinister figure and yet, despite the evil Himmler aided and abetted by the end of this book I saw him more pathetic than monstrous.

It is now more than ever necessary to remind us the men and women who supported and carried out Nazi policies were human beings with feelings, failings, personal relationships, strengths and, yes, some good qualities
Razvan Zamfirescu
Feb 10, 2014 Razvan Zamfirescu rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: istorie
Dementa nazista nu poate fi inteleasa fara a-l cunoaste pe Himmler. Vioara intai in procesul de exterminare a evreilor, principalul inginer al teoriilor rasiale, pionierul aplicarii arianismului in cadrul unei organizatii (SS) si principalul vinovat de ororile care au avut loc in Europa cotropita de razboi, Himmler adeseori este uitat si lasat in umbra lui Hitler.
Este foarte adevarat ca fara Hitler, Himmler nu si-ar fi putut pune in practica ideile fanteziste, schemele diabolice si planurile in
Fred Lombardo
Aug 16, 2016 Fred Lombardo rated it really liked it
An excellent biography of a most flawed and evil man. The most striking fact was the apparent lack of conscience and his only thought for pleasing Hitler. A man who couldn't think for himself and only lived to serve a most heinous regime. His behavior, though I shudder to give Himmler any excuse for his behavior, stuck me as a man with a mental disorder which manifested in an inability to and seemed crippled by an absence of his own personality. He seemingly could not think for himself and bent ...more
Neil Harmon
Sep 04, 2016 Neil Harmon rated it liked it
I like history and got a deal on the audio version so I decided to try this book. It was very factual and was interesting but was somehow presented in a "matter of fact" manner that wasn't as compelling is it seems it might have been. Of course non-fiction often doesn't read as a novel but I finished feeling that I heard a lot of facts but somehow didn't end up knowing Himmler as much as I thought I might after a whole book. He was very much a technocrat so perhaps his personality not coming thr ...more
Aug 24, 2015 Erwin rated it really liked it
The subtitle of the book is "The Sinister Life of the Head of the SS and Gestapo" yet the opening passage talks about how the authors have made sure this is a "fair and balanced view" of Himmler. Seems like they should have just edited out that first passage, as the book lines right up with the subtitle: The Sinister Life of the Head of the SS and Gestapo. The man was the architect of genocide, so that's what we should expect... Just the irony (hypocrisy?) of the opening disclaimer was a bit irr ...more
Erik Graff
Jul 16, 2015 Erik Graff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: students of the Nazi movement
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: biography
I've been picking up all the biographies of the Nazi leadership I encounter, hoping thereby to understand how such a regime became possible and to inoculate myself against becoming a tacit ally of such tendencies in my own society. Having done several biographies of Hitler and Goering, I was very pleased to finally found one on Himmler.

Heinrich Himmler, like most of the others, was not a monster in all respects. Indeed, he was exceptionally gentle and considerate in many of his personal relation
Jun 17, 2016 Douglas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A thorough, if pedantic biography.

Second only to Hitler as the "face of evil" in the Third Reich, Himmler was arguably, as Reichsfuhrer SS, the second most powerful man in Europe. Yet, for all of his reputation for fanaticism and ruthlessness, he died a tawdry death by self-poisoning, wrapped in an army blanket while in British custody. There would be no glorious end for a man who methodically sent millions of innocents to their deaths. Instead, this man, who preached the doctrine of ruthlessnes
Aug 20, 2014 Patrick rated it liked it
Shelves: biography, history
Disclaimer: I was able to get this as part of Kindle Unlimited, along with the audiobook. I'm not sure if I would have bought this if I had seen it since I have such a long queue of other things to read.

Having said that, the book was a decent biography of Himmler. As it was relatively short compared to other recent Isaacson biographies I've read lately, it didn't give as good an impression of its subject. At the end I felt like he was just a deluded, sickly bureaucrat with some strange ideas. I
Jul 25, 2011 Amanda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Manvell and Fraenkel conducted years of meticulous research both with primary documents and those who actually knew Himmler to bring about a biography of the man infamous for being in charge of the S.S., Gestapo, and concentration camps that made the terror of Hitler’s reign possible. They seek to provide a well-rounded look at Himmler’s entire life for those with some familiarity with the events of World War II.

This was a fascinating and difficult book to read, not because of the writing style
Jul 26, 2011 Steve rated it really liked it
Manville writes a pretty good book on this excuse of a man who was Hitler's right-hand man in the extermination of millions during World Wat II. Manville portrays Himmler and a geeky, self-serving, kiss-ass while possessing the power to kill at will. I also found Himmler's Aryan race philosophies quite distrurbing -- especially the honor code (if there could be a honor in the SS) dictating how members should be breeding with "good Nordic stock" while also promoting a that good German women shoul ...more
I might be a strange person, (okay 'am,' and was a strange teenager) but I read this specifically because the cover looked all evil and I wanted to read about some evil crap.'s very hard to review books about WWII/Nazis. Simply put, I think that there have been eviler people in the world besides Heinrich Himmler. ...and there, I've been burned at the stake for heresy. I mean, my overall impression of him was that he was a fanatic with some pretty freaking weird-ass beliefs. Add in some ...more
Dec 01, 2015 Quanita rated it really liked it
As horrendous as WWII was, there continues to be more to learn that makes it even worse. Himmler was a procrastinator who saw himself as larger than life while at the same time afraid of his small shadow. He designed a concentration camp that he felt should be the model for all camps - at the same time feeling himself to be a caring and humane man. His beliefs on racial purity, marriage and child rearing, his adultery, and his rivalry with other Nazi leaders is the basis of this book. I only gav ...more
Jan 19, 2016 Neil rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A very disturbing character. This book gives an excellent insight into a man who had delusions of grandeur with all the resources to achieve it. I have read many books on WW2 but this is the first (and last) on Himmler. This book tells it all and how a mild mannered man reasoned his way into a mass murderer then had the audacity to try redeem himself near the end of the war. Very good read if you are a WW2 buff.
CJ Hines
Oct 25, 2015 CJ Hines rated it liked it
Hard to say what I thought--a lot of people involved, the relationship between Himmler and Hitler, Himmler and Goring, Gubbels, Hess, etc., lots of footnotes that were lengthy and involved. Himmler believed in what he was doing and believed the Jewish people needed to be eradicated, along with many other men in the SS and Gestapo. Disturbing but revealing.
Jeffery Hicks
May 03, 2014 Jeffery Hicks rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
We should never forget

world war two has always fascinated me. it was one of the darkest periods in our history filled with horrifying deeds and horrible men. at the same time the world came together. this book provides an insight into one ofp the evil men and both fascinates and horrified me.
michele e davidson
Good read!

The book was very lengthy and hard to read. The necessary explanation of Himmler's youth and how it shaped him are important but tedious. I enjoyed the book but it took me 3 months to finish it. Had I not purchased it, I probably wouldn't have finished it!
Jun 13, 2016 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read this book to understand a little more of Himmler. He was a very strange a warped man. Reading this book was at time very unsettling. Not as unsettling as Death dealer but how so many people could do what they did to fellow humans is beyond my understanding. If you wish to understand the Nazis and Himmle a good book to start with/
Jason Rodriguez
Jan 05, 2015 Jason Rodriguez rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
More than meets the eye

As someone who is interested in WWII, this book depicted more than just the monster who everyone knows as Himmler. It shows multiple sides of his personality. A must read for anyone interested in WWII Nazi history
Skuli Saeland
Ágæt heimildavinna þar sem bókin var gefin út 1965 en er barn síns tíma.
Þrátt fyrir yfirlýsingar um hlutlausa eða hlutlæga umfjöllun um hver Himmler í raun var þá er ljóst frá upphafi hvert viðhorf höfunda er.
Eftir fátæklega umfjöllun um æsku og umhverfi Himmlers verja höfundar töluverðum tima í hrylling nasismans og helstu forvígismenn hans.
Emanuel Landeholm
Feb 04, 2016 Emanuel Landeholm rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-bio
Not an amazing read to be honest. For being one of the brains behind the holocaust, Himmler was a remarkably uninteresting man. Maybe Sebag Montefiore could write a more engaging bio?
Jan 04, 2016 djcb rated it liked it
Biopic about Heinrich Himmler; not a very nice man. In fact, one of the main architects of the Holocaust. The book tries to analyze him -- a combination racial romantic, heartless administrator, military incompetent and, above all, obsessive Adolf Hitler follower.

Book is a bit dated (1965).
Oct 28, 2015 Judyspadoni rated it liked it
a lot of good information and I have a good mental picture of the man he was but info was not presented in a logical format for my brain. Very interested in reading another author to make more sense of that time period
Jun 21, 2013 Shinju rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: principiantes, noobs
Himmler (Manvel, Fraenkel) Versión en español

Excelente descripción biográfica de Himmler. Narra hechos que abarcan desde la infancia hasta la muerte del Reichsfuhrer. Cuenta con testimonios de familiares y amigos que fueron cercanos al personaje en vida o que en alguna ocasión trabajaron para él. Los errores en la publicación son muy pocos, en redacción o traducción pues ha sido quizá muy literal en ocasiones, pero se puede fiar del libro. El punto de vista del autor es bastante objetivo. La nar
Mar 30, 2016 Miguel rated it really liked it
Grandiosa biografía, retrata muy bien la vida personal de Himmler con relatos de gente cercana y de cartas personales entre el y su mujer, detalla sus estúpidas teorías raciales y la "solucion final"; me costo algo de trabajo pues describe los crímenes contra los judios y si es un poco perturbador.
Gary Stocker
Worrying how someone from a stable, respectable background can turn into someone like that. Charecter of contrasts in that he was meticulously honest in the way he did not loot art treaures or fiddle his expenses, unlike most of the top nazis, then on the other hand be responsible for mass murder. For no other reason than he was obeying orders. Think one of the unsung heroes (although he did get a nobel peace prize for it) was his masseur, Kersten. He used his influence with Himmler to get him t ...more
Jul 19, 2013 Jeff rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those already having an extensive knowledge of the Nazi era
I was excited to begin reading this book as I'm not very up to date on Germany during the Hitler era. I lost my enthusiasm quickly, however, as I was having a very difficult time following the timeline as it was being described. Actually, I'm less than halfway thru and I've had it. I'm overwhelmed by the constant jumping back and forth in time. And I mean constant. The reason for giving 3 stars is my admission that I need to learn some more of the basics before trying to read this book.
Feb 10, 2015 Kathy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good and informative book

Overall I thought this was a pretty good book. It did have it's lull points. But most of it was interesting.
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“The Nazi leaders cannot be voided from human society simply because it is pleasanter or more convenient to regard them now as outside the pale of humanity.” 1 likes
“Though the idea was Hitler’s, originating in a scribbled note” 0 likes
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