Adolf Hitler
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Adolf Hitler

4.14 of 5 stars 4.14  ·  rating details  ·  1,209 ratings  ·  72 reviews
Pulitzer Prize-winning historian John Toland’s classic, definitive biography of Adolf Hitler remains the most thorough, readable, accessible, and, as much as possible, objective account of the life of a man whose evil affect on the world in the twentieth century will always be felt.

Toland’s research provided one of the final opportunities for a historian to conduct persona...more
Paperback, 1120 pages
Published December 1st 1991 by Anchor (first published 1976)
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At 1,035 pages, they weren't screwing around when they decided to call this book "the definitive biography." I can pretty much tell you what Hitler ate for breakfast everyday between 1933 and 1945 (for instance, on April 30th, 1945 he ate a bullet).

A few months back, I picked up a biography of Diana Mitford, wife of Sir Oswald Mosley, the leader of the British Union of Fascists, and close friend of Adolf Hitler. In its entirety, the book was relatively dull, but I was captivated by Mitford's cha...more
(updated with further nasty comment)

Hitler was the world's greatest motivational speaker. You go to one of his meetings and he gives you astonishing dreams, and he gives you permissions. Next day, you see an old Jew in the street. Last week, you wanted to give him a kick. Today, you actually do that, right there, and he falls over. But a policeman was watching you the whole time. Sheiss! Now you're in for it. You look up from the Jew and meet his eyes. He laughs briefly and shrugs, and walks on....more
David A
“Adolf Hitler” (Ballantine Books, 1st September 1986 edition) by John Toland is probably my favourite history biography. It is a masterful detailed and absorbing account of the life of the most evil figure of modern world history. I read it 25 years ago when I was a 14 year old school boy, having been given an assignment to do for history class. When I came across it in our school library, and I spent the next few weeks reading it. Every spare minute I got I dived back in and was engrossed until...more
Erik Graff
Jan 01, 2013 Erik Graff rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: WWII fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: biography
My first substantial adult reading experience at age ten was Shirer's Rise & Fall of the Third Reich. Dad had served in both theatres--indeed, almost everyone's father had served in WWII or Korea in our government-assisted community in Lake County, Illinois. The War, wars in general, were very much on my mind, on our minds, during childhoods endured through the centennial years of our own civil war.

The Cold War was of primary concern. Like everyone else, I feared the Russians and Chinese. Th...more
Dismissed by some historians, Toland produces here the most objective biography of Hitler imaginable. Rooted on the solid ground of interviews with former Nazis living in hiding and unaccessible to other historians, makes a case for sour grapes.

Further, most people are very comfortable condemning Hitler as the devil, or some such reincarnation. However, if you want to meet the man, experience what he experienced, see him as he saw himself, then this is the book for you.

Toland employs a device...more
Mar 27, 2008 Michelle rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: historical bio readers
If you ever wanted to read 900 pages about one of the most evil, if not the most evil person ever to live, this is the book for you. This book goes into painstaking detail about the lives of his parents and grandparents, his childhood, young adulthood as a struggling artist and in the German army, and his rise in the National Socialist (Nazi) party in Germany, and how he began to amass control of Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, etc. What I liked about this book is that it is so incredi...more
How does one positively rate a biography on the most hated person of the 20th century? If the story is narrated like a novel and contains fruitful lessons, it is possible. And this is the case with John Toland's work on Adolf Hitler. I must admit, it was not a carelessly light read. While the story is easily engaging, I felt the heaviness its historic implications upon the Jewish people (among other targeted populations) as I read. The benefit of studying the man behind the infamous name is lear...more
I can not believe that there is a better book available that covers the second most written about man in human history –Adolph Hitler. His chronicled life shows not only his evil prejudices but also his normal side. Toland gives plausible reasons for Hitler’s anti-Semitism. He exposes lies spread about Hitler such as his refusal to shake Jesse Owens hand after Owens’ Olympic victory. Very good and surprisingly funny anecdotes are incorporated such as Hitler’s crazy cousin spreading pamphlets cla...more
This book gives a detailed history of Adolf Hitler like no other book I have read. It discusses in depth his dislike for Jewish Zionists, and how he didn't hate the Jews just for the sake of hating. It is lengthy, but it certainly disproves the current myth of Hitler as a mindless buthcer propogated by the Zionist-Western press.
Lewis Weinstein
Jan 27, 2014 Lewis Weinstein marked it as to-read
Shelves: history, a-research
I have read significant parts of this book - it is excellent. But I need a break from the Nazis, so I have switched to reading a series of books which will throw light on the Polish side of my novel-in-progress.

Richard Fulgham
I believe you trust Toland. I checked out his sources. He seems to be truthful. Fascinating book! Good read.
Good book for someone interested in WWII but for anyone else it's too long to suffer through. I loved it though.
Brian Lee
At well over 1000 pgs, completely amazing (not the man, Hitler, but this book). I was totally engrossed in this bio--as if I was reading an actual novel/thriller. Having been to Germany and Austria, and having visited some of the terrain and sights and locations, I felt immersed in this bio from the opening scenes. Plus this was written and published some years back, the author able to interview hundreds of folks who actually knew Hitler (that in itself makes this the definitive Hitler history o...more
Everyone should know the workings of a truly evil mind so that it can be recognized and stopped
Apr 28, 2013 Michael rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: World War II Buffs, History students, History buffs
Recommended to Michael by: Serendipity
Although it's not perfect, I've rated this book five stars because it has served so long as my "go-to" reference on Hitler. Toland avoids a lot of the mistakes of popular treatments of Hitler’s life by being very careful about his sources, and making use of (and cross-referencing) interviews with surviving witnesses on a large scale. Particularly in terms of reconstructing Hitler’s early life, he presents a far more convincing narrative than Alan Bullock had, although of course the uncertainty o...more
Toland's extensive biography of Hitler is, in a word, unbelievable. No aspect of the guy's life goes untouched and it is told in a very easy-to-read fashion.

The book focuses solely on Hitler, so if you wanted an overview of the Holocaust in general you won't find it in here. In fact, during the war the book focuses more on war tactics and strategy than the humanitarian crisis in the Third Reich. It sheds some light on Himmler, but given that the Fuhrer essentially told Himmler how to take care o...more
This was a good if depressing read. I was inspired to learn more about Germany during this era after reading Einstein in Berlin. And this book was an interesting companion piece to that book.
The book was detailed without being too dense. That is not to say that it is not a long-slog. This is not a casual evening read. It is a good narrative of a complex (to say the least) life. The book was able to cover a lot and, as such, was forced to move quickly over monumental events. For example, I think...more
Michael Del Camp
Reading this book illuminated 20th Century history for me, in a way that is hard to describe. I was born within ten years of Hitler's death and the end of World War II in 1945. When I was a kid, we would clamber on and around tanks planted like trees in our city parks. We had toy guns and played war games. What continues to amaze me, is that America was at the same time, central, yet peripheral, to the outcome, death, carnage and destruction of World War II. Further, in my own view, World War II...more
Truly remarkable. I'd been hard-pressed to find a decent fair biography of this enigmatic man called Adolf Hitler. Without reading them I'd compared dozens of biographies, asking people's opinions, combing through book reviews so as not to experience a disappointment since virtually every biography of Hitler is not less than 700 pages and usually has the word "evil" in its title (which is straight out bias). So this one by Toland has considerably met my expectations.

There is no finger pointing o

OK, so saying you "really like" a book about Hitler is bound to get you some weird looks, but this was an exceptionally deeply researched look into Hitler's life from beginning to end. I'm not sure of all the sources and how Toland got a hold of them, but he got interviews with many of the main players in Hitler's life that were left after the fall of the Third Reich. I felt that it was a revealing look into Hitler's mind without being overwhelming. Toland did occasionally get bogged down in som...more
I've always wanted to read a biography about this man that made such a impact in the history of the world.

I searched in lots of sites and read a lot of reviews, until I got to this one by John Toland. And all the propaganda about it is true: this is the definitive biography!

It tells everything: his childhood; the jew doctor who "failed" on saving his mother- and probably had some influence in his hatred-; the development of the nazi ideology; how he got the Church, the people and even some jews...more
Mar 24, 2009 Tamra rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: German history nuts
Shelves: couldn-t-finish
I'm on page 150 and I'm going to have to stop there.

Learning about the developing Hitler was fascinating. His childhood and teenage years. His worthless early 20's that he spent homeless and half-starving, dreaming of art and architecture, but never following through. The war years, which he spent on the front lines, where his life was spared many times by "divine intervention" (that's in quotes not because I don't believe in divine intervention, but because I'm not sure the concept applies to H...more
Jim Morrison
I liked it because I didn't know much about the history of Germany during that period and it helped me understand what was happening at the time. When we are at war we make the enemy out to be a horrible villain. In reality some of what I had seen portrayed in movies and on television seems inaccurate now and was certainly incomplete. This book helped me understand the terrible predicament Germany was in after WW I and what Herr Hitler promised the people. It also described accurately, I think,...more
This biography book reads like a novel without sacrificing facts. Actually, it provides a lot of information and very minimal editorializing. My only complaint is the unabridged version is just too long. There are many, many details that are included to add information about his character, but they become redundant, especially when the thoughts of other characters through their letters, etc. provide the same information. But if you want a book that tells you everything about Hitler and all of th...more
This is a stunning book. Toland wished to establish how the little corporal managed to seduce a whole nation - including some very well educated people who were in no way fools. He shows how Hitler's charisma - and utter belief in himself and his destiny - was conveyed in a way that was almost irresistible. Three quarters of the way through you begin to root for the Fuhrer ... and then Tolland concludes with the atrocities that this sort of maniacal leadership resulted in. A tour de force. Well...more
I could not put this heavy tome down -- a riveting read -- from Hitler's early beginnings, to the detailed blue prints in Mein Kampf, to the Czech Crisis in minute details. I felt as if I were sitting at the negotiating table along with Herr Hitler, Mr Chamberlain, Sr. Mussolini, and M. Dadalier... Toland's writing is never boring. This is an engaging biography that reads like a thriller and makes you want to delve deeper into the lives of its characters.

Highly recommended -- at 1,000 plus pages...more
Paige Murphy
This book is very long with very small print. I was looking for a book about Hitler's personal life, and this is mainly about his career and the war. The information about the first part if his life is fascinating and if the rest of the book followed suit I would have remained enthralled. I can't imagine how long it took the author to research and write this tome. It is extremely detailed to the point where it was difficult to keep all the names straight. I am going to look for another read abou...more
Derek Byrne
This book gives a brilliant insight into Hitler the man. It is written with a completely neutral perspective and highlights some good points in Hitler's make up. This is where it scores over other books on Hitler where the author has nothing good to say about him (or indeed in certain neo-Nazi texts where he can do no wrong). For anyone interested in this period of history this is a must-read text. At over 1000 pages it could put the more casual reader off but rest assured it is very readable. A...more
Chris Fade
My late grandmother gave me an original 1976 print of this book. It was split into two volumes, and at first I did not anticipate I would enjoy reading it.. Boy was I wrong.

If you are unable to accept any information regarding a subject that would be contrary to preconceived notions, you should steer clear of this book. It shows Hitler as he really was: not a monster, but a human. A human, suffering from the Human condition and warped by the human psyche. It truly is a good read. Don't let the s...more
Don Wright
Aug 16, 2013 Don Wright marked it as to-read
I had bought this book for my Dad for his birthday August 31, 1992 as a reference book. He had fought in WWII and I bought him quite a few volumes of material. When he passed away in 2006 I ended up with the books as my brothers and sisters weren't that interested in the war. I have several books to get listed and I did inherit this large flag that he told me not to sell, what do you do with a Nazi flag?
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John Willard Toland (June 29, 1912 in La Crosse, Wisconsin - January 4, 2004 in Danbury, Connecticut) was an American author and historian. He is best known for his biography of Adolf Hitler.[1]

Toland tried to write history as a straightforward narrative, with minimal analysis or judgment. This method may have stemmed from his original goal of becoming a playwright. In the summers between his coll...more
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