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1938: Hitler's Gamble
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1938: Hitler's Gamble

3.54 of 5 stars 3.54  ·  rating details  ·  101 ratings  ·  20 reviews
In this masterful narrative, acclaimed historian Giles MacDonogh chronicles Adolf Hitler’s consolidation of power over the course of one year. Until 1938, Hitler could be dismissed as a ruthless but efficient dictator, a problem to Germany alone; after 1938 he was clearly a threat to the entire world.It was in 1938 that Third Reich came of age. The Führer brought Germany i ...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published December 1st 2009 by Basic Books (first published 2009)
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This is the first truly negative book review I have ever given.

What disturbs me the most about this book was the LACK of information given by the author. When I first picked up this book, I was actually scared knowing that once again I was going to have to re-read and learn even more about the gruesome history that Hitler and his Nazis had permanently marked the face of human history with. However, MacDonogh's way of reporting "history" during this time is condescending in its lack of detail. Th
An incredible amount of detail and information packed in this book that covers so many key events that took place during 1938 in the rise of Nazi Germany. The book is broken down by month and outlines the climate of the times as well recounting the major historical decisions that were made that shaped the coming of World War II. There were so many major events that took place during 1938 and the author does an excellent job walking the reader through the timeline with commentary that helps form ...more
Jill Hutchinson
This book is the author's analysis of why the year 1938 was a turning point which lead to the conflagration of WWII. History buffs would agree that Hitler, in his quest for control of Europe (and beyond), gambled on the inept leadership of England (Chamberlain, the great appeaser), and France (a government in chaos) to back away from any confrontation with Germany. Despite the fact that Hitler kept gobbling up one territory and country after another, they turned a blind eye to the portents of th ...more
Margaret Sankey
Going month by month, McDonogh chronicles the slide towards the full invasion of Czechoslovakia, including the often overlooked purge of the old Hapsburg-hangers-on (including the sons of Franz Ferdinand) to Dachau, the birth of Edda Goring, Hitler's fit over being improperly dressed on a state visit to Rome and the sheer haphazardness and terrifying randomness of the Nazi state apparatus, from negligent or abusive border guards to the paperwork loopholes that saved lives one day and doomed them ...more
I thought this was going to be an analysis of the diplomatic moves of the key year in the 1930s but the bulk of it is an indictment of the Austrians post-Anschluss and the travails of its Jewish population as the escape avenues are closed off over the course of the final two years before the war.

Opens well with the Blomberg-Fritsch affair, though glossing over the fact that Blomberg was an ardent Nazi himself and so possibly allowing more sympathy to accrue than might otherwise be the case.

The S
Complements the other book, Munich 1938, that I read recently, with appalling accounts of what happened to Austrian Jews. MacDonagh has an unusual writing style (clipped sentences, similar to reading news bulletins) that grew on me. Neither book holds many surprises, since the story is so familiar and the interpretations conventional. But this history of these years never fails to shock.
A good book of a bad year for the world. The real emergence of Hitler to a world menace. Many factors, not the least of which was Europe losing a generation of young men in WWI, resulted in a failue to confront and missed opportunities to contain or topple the Nazi regime. Some insight into the antisemitism in Europe, it was not just a German phenomenon.
Raimo Wirkkala
This is sobering history. The melancholy fact that Hitler might've been stopped at several points before bringing about the cataclysm of WW II is profoundly disturbing. A good addition to the scholarship regarding the Third Reich.
Cynthia Haggard
Giles MacDonogh’s book 1938: HITLER’S GAMBLE was an interesting eye-opening book, which focuses on what happened in Austria to the Viennese Jews after the Anschluss. I found this book interesting precisely because the typical treatment of this material is to focus on what was going on in Berlin, London, Paris and Washington. Mr. MacDonogh makes vivid the plight of the Austrian Jews, who were singled out for bad treatment within days of the Anschluss. Through his vivid writing, I could see myself ...more
Dana Mees-athuring
A little knowledge of the Third Reich will help understanding this book. While it presumably sticks to a narrative timeline the players names on a scorecard would help.
Eventually MacDonogh comes across with the information that his family was/is involved in the story he's telling.
Ian Major
Dec 10, 2012 Ian Major rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in our present society's possible development.
A gripping account month by month of this year that made WWII inevitable. Looking back we can see how differently things might have worked out if the bullies had been faced down. And how widespread was anti-Semitism in Europe.

MacDonogh gives the essential mix of detail for us to place ourselves at the time. It made me reflect how the little affairs and crises we 'get over' in a week or so can in fact be final stepping stones to disaster. The shameful prevarication in helping resettlement of the
1938: Hitler's Gamble was okay for me, nothing too bad or good about it. I did love the pictures that were featured in the book though.
Good, but not memorable - well supported
Honestly, I struggled reading this book because, much like a technical book, it was very detailed. I thought it would just tackle the author's analysis of the year before the start of World War II.

But nevertheless, I was struck and saddened by stories regarding the repression of the Jews, and their struggle to save themselves and their families from unfair treatment.
May 25, 2010 Kipi rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Graduate history students
2.5 stars

"Masterful narrative"?? I must have read the wrong version. Certainly a great deal of good information, but very, very dry. Even as a reader fascinated by WWII history, I had to force myself to finish it. Rarely does a book take me longer than a week to finish, but this one took a month.
Readable, rather than dense. Proceeds as one chapter per month, covering the Nazi progress into Austria, Czechoslovaki, and more, and the beginnings of "cleansing" that became the holocaust. Kind of who's who of Nazis but sometimes it seems like a pile of names.
Mark Maguire
An incredible account of the international duplicity which gave rise to the Nazi regime. Meticulously researched and brilliantly written, the Author covers the principal actors and agencies in depth, and outlines the effects they had on the course of history.
An interesting approach in looking at a single year in Hitler's rise in Europe but it works. Incredibly detailed and leaves you with the overriding impression of how on earth could this have happened.
John Daly
Many names, hard to follow. The two themes that were throughout the book were perhaps one too many for me.
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Giles MacDonogh (born 1955) is a British writer, historian and translator.

MacDonogh has worked as a journalist, most notably for the Financial Times (1988–2003), where he covered food, drink and a variety of other subjects. He has also contributed to most of the other important British newspapers, and is a regular contributor to the Times . As an historian, MacDonogh concentrates on central Eur
More about Giles MacDonogh...
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