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Hitler 1889-1936: Hubris
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Hitler 1889-1936: Hubris (Hitler #1)

4.33 of 5 stars 4.33  ·  rating details  ·  2,106 ratings  ·  91 reviews
From his illegitimate
birth in a small Austrian village to his fiery death in a bunker under
the Reich chancellery in Berlin, Adolf Hitler left a murky trail,
strewn with contradictory tales and overgrown with self-created myths.
One truth prevails: the sheer scale of the evils that he unleashed on
the world has made him a demonic figure without equal in this century.
Ian Kersha
Hardcover, First American Edition, 912 pages
Published January 1st 1999 by W.W. Norton & Company (first published 1998)
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Claude Lanzmann, who directed the famous Holocaust documentary Shoah, once said that any attempt to explain Hitler is an "obscenity." This, of course, has not stopped a generation of authors from attempting to do just that.

Of course, Lanzmann's statement is fatuous bluster. More to the point, there isn't a historical topic on earth that is out-of-bounds. And for good reason. Neglecting Hitler's story makes him into something more than he was. He wasn't the antichrist; he wasn't some sort of mon
Lewis Weinstein
UPDATE 3/22/14 ...

I have now read the chapters concerning the early months of the Hitler regime, during which Hitler destroyed all opposition and established Nazi control over all public and private organizations. It is frightening how easily and how quickly this transformation took place. It is also evident that Hitler had a clear idea of the direction he would take from day one. But it wasn't day one. He had been working on nothing else for over a decade. His Nazi Party organization was in pla
The first of a two-volume biography, Kershaw has given us a magisterial study of Hitler which far surpasses Fest's effort of the 1970s, good as that was. Kershaw has taken good advantage of the work which has been done since then, displaying an impressive range of research from which he draws conclusions that are cogently argued. He looks not only at the man himself, but also at the conditions which gave rise to him, placing him in context—not depicting him as an inhuman monster, but showing the ...more
Kershaw's book is the best I have encountered at helping the reader to understand how someone like Hitler was able to become the supreme ruler of Germany. The book starts out as an excellent biography of Hitler's early years, but in the mid-1920s it changes into more of a sociological history of Germany between the wars: why the Weimar Republic failed, what average Germans cared about, and what it was about Hitler's message that resonated with the people and why. Hitler himself is such a cipher ...more
P.J. Sullivan

This book gives a good account of Hitler's highly improbable rise to power, but does not resolve the question of why Hindenburg appointed Hitler chancellor. It says that Hindenburg initially refused, until ex-chancellor Franz von Papen convinced him that Hitler would be harmless as chancellor. He could be safely contained, said von Papen, "boxed in" by conservatives in the cabinet and by Hindenburg himself. It was thought that political responsibilities would tame the Nazis. That is Kershaw's v
I'm struggling to recall reading a better biography than Ian Kershaw's first volume on Hitler. This book skillfully places Hitler into the context of his time and place, stripping away the myths promulgated by his subject, his subject's admirers and contemporary enemies, and by those who've stumbled in their attempts to understand how an unemployable, draft dodging crank succeeded in convincing a nation in crisis to place itself under his care. Never before has Hitler's rise seemed so chancy, so ...more
Heavy going in places and short on his personal life, but a very detailed account of each part of Hitler's development. Fascinating are the opportunities to stop his rise and the perfect storm of the economy, Versailles and a contemporary German appetite for authority that delivers him to power. It's terrible, and compelling.
Kershaw is at first sight an odd choice to write a biography because as a structuralist he is more inclined to look towards power structures, organizations etc to explain historical events rather than the "great man" approach to history.

However, what at fist sight would appear to be a disadvantage turns out to be of major benefit. We get both a detailed account of Hitler's life, but also a very sure footed and insightful explanation of German political history from the end of the First World War
Kyle Thompson
I am very interested in Adolf Hitler and the Nazi/Third Reich history, so I figured that this would be a good book to learn more about Hitler, why he did what he did, how he became Fuhrer and Reich Chancellor of Germany, and what the Nazi's were all about. I would say that the latter two were more fulfilled than the "personal" study was.

Since I have already read many books on Adolf Hitler, e.g. Adjutant's and secretaries diaries, Albert Speer's "Inside the Third Reich", and a couple of others, I
Nov 16, 2012 Szplug marked it as intermittently-reading  ·  review of another edition
This is supposed to be the best, and, for some reason, I'm feeling drawn towards yet another round with Der Führer.
Martin Middleton
Hitler: Hubris is an indepth and comprehensive look at Hitler up until 1936. However, it does tend to give very little information at the end on 1935-36, probably because it was analysing Hitler and the changes in his disposition and so on, and not the actual Third Reich.

The book argues that it was not because of Hitler's allegedly "remarkable" features that he rose to power in Germany but instead, it was a mixture of luck, deteriorating economic conditions, political radicalisation and help in
A detailed biography of Hitler's life until his rise to power in 1936. Sir Ian Kershaw, an expert on the Nazi Party and Hitler, explains that he came to the idea of writing a biography backwards. "Biography had never figured in my intellectual plans as something I might want to write. I had been much more drawn to social history," says Kershaw in his introduction.

Kershaw concentrates on key turning points during Hitler's life, whether it is entering the army, being mentored by Capt. Karl Mayr, o
Kershaw answers the question of how such a man as Hitler could have led a nation into the abyss. He exposes the hollow core of Hitler's being that enabled him to appeal to different segments of German society. His absolute certainty in his infallibility convinced many that he had all the right answers. Hitler's tendency for procrastination and his uninterest in the administration and mechanics of governance enabled him to distance himself from objectionable actions of his followers. Kershaw is b ...more
Fabian Scherschel
An excellent biography. Well written and scientifically sound almost everywhere. This is probably the definitive biography of Hitler. The whole book is fascinating, but the very first chapters on his youth doubly so. Kershaw deals with a lot of silly myths about the man and soundly refutes a lot of them. The key to understanding Hitler, and ultimately the Second World War is understanding that Hitler was human and that his followers were human. The fact that he wasn't a mythical monster makes th ...more
Scott Miller
This book is so much more than a Hitler biography. It also is a history of Germany during the 1920s and 1930s, an era that tends to be overshadowed by the war itself. Kernshaw, for example, does a terrific job of showing the chaotic conditions in Bavaria as rival political groups fought in the streets. Kernshaw treats Hitler as he should, letting the facts speak for themselves. Throughout he uses telling bits of detail to provide a full portrait of the man. All in all, its a wonderfully written ...more
Marik Casmon
I read this first of a two-volume biography of Hitler over the last week and found it a fascinating story, one which I still don't understand, having never lived through anything like the social chaos that existed in Germany in the 1920s until the re-occupation of the Rhineland, which is where the first volume ends. The book is almost totally about Hitler's political career, and it's an amazing story. I thank my lucky stars that I didn't have to experience it firsthand. I'm going to read the sec ...more
Michael Mcclanahan
Very good read. The reason I liked this book is that it really did a good job chronicling Hitler growing up as a starving artist and how through living in horrid conditions he rose to become so appealing to a country that was reeling from WWI and desperate to find an identity. It also does a great job of showcasing just how idiotic he is and the fabrications and anti Semite attitude shaped his distorted world view. If you like reading history and especially about Europe in the early 1900s this b ...more
Kai Palchikoff
From his illegitimate birth in a small Austrian village to his fiery death in a bunker under the Reich chancellery in Berlin, Adolf Hitler left a murky trail, strewn with contradictory tales and overgrown with self-created myths. One truth prevails: the sheer scale of the evils that he unleashed on the world has made him a demonic figure without equal in this century. Ian Kershaw's Hitler brings us closer than ever before to the character of the bizarre misfit in his thirty-year ascent from a Vi ...more
Πάνος Τουρλής
Επιτέλους το τελείωσα. Πάρτε το από δω. Ξεκινάω με την γκρίνια ότι ήταν το πιο ογκώδες βιβλίο που διάβασα. 937 σελίδες 23 εκατοστών (καθαρό κείμενο, βάλε 655 σελίδες με ψιλά γράμματα, χώρια οι σημειώσεις, η βιβλιογραφία και το ευρετήριο). Δεν μπορούσα να το κουβαλάω στα λεωφορεία, δεν μπορούσα να το διαβάζω στο κρεβάτι (δεν είμαι και η Τζέιν Φόντα, και 1 και 2 και 3). Στενοχωρέθηκα που δεν το απόλαυσα όσο θα έπρεπε αναγκαζόμενος να διαβάζω άλλα στο μεταξύ βιβλία. Τέσπα τα κατάφερα. Αλλά με ξενέρ ...more
Christopher Faria
There are two themes to this book: the man, Hitler; the conditions in Germany prior to, through and post WWI.

Hitler was a spoiled, narcissistic, lazy, self-deluded pseudo-intellectual with two gifts: he could speak and he had an uncanny gift of sizing people up. And it was these two gifts that he parlayed the conditions of pre and post WW1 into the Nazi state. Kershaw points out how Democracy was foreign to Germany. It was essentially a fragmented collection of states looking for another king- w
This is the best, most thoroughly researched biography I've read about Hitler's life.

Researched in the late 1990's, and published in 1999, with records recovered from former Soviet East Germany, the diaries of all the Nazi officers who kept them were primary sources along with letters, memos, texts of speeches, etc., that the East Germans kept and preserved.

If you are interested in how Hitler grew up and came to power, this book and its sequel are must-reads.
Hitler's birth, youth and rise to power are profiled by Kershaw in the first of his two volume biography of the Nazi ruler. No political genius, lazy, socially maladroit, and not terribly bright, his sole talent seems to have been as an amazingly charismatic public speaker whose ability to whip his audiences into an almost rapturous state was enough to make him the leader of Germany as the book ends.
Kathy Ridges
This is a large tome to review suffice to say it is a gem. You can really lose yourself in the 1930's and feel as if you were almost there. It is heavy on the political aspect and how Hitler and the Nazis rose to power. Social history is also written about making it a very comprehensive study indeed. I have yet to read part 2.

I think he takes a detached and fair view of the whole proceedings.
The finest biography on Hitler to date, and the most comprehensive. A two volume set and both are amazing and informative. Detailed to the nth degree you will learn so much and as much as there maybe to learn about this flawed, evil, man. It also shows how an ignorant man could take hold of a modern industrialized, educated state and turn it into his own prejudiced evil killing machine.
Katie Magoun
There is no doubt that this is the definitive biography of one of the most detested human beings history has yet produced. I found myself hoping to capture a glimpse of humanity in Hitler. Something to illustrate that there was humanity buried under the dark depths. I didn't find it. Any author knows that engaging a reader involves creating likable (if not loveable) characters, and there is nothing to like here. This is hardly Kershaw's fault, per se, however, it consequently leaves the narrativ ...more
Paul Eccles
Great history book. Especially the political intrigues in Weimar Germany and the details of how Hitler was appointed as Chancellor in 1933 were very interesting. I learned that Hitler was insane from the beginning! His personality never really changed. Great book.
The Kershaw biography of Hitler is, without a doubt, the most intriguing I have ever read. It provides tremendous insight into the man, as well as into the inner workings of the Nazi State.
This is an absolutely fascinating overview of Hitler and his rise to power. Kershaw does not focus entirely (or even mostly) on the man himself, but takes great pains to delve into the social, political, and economic conditions within Germany that made Hitler's rise possible. The volume begins in the late 1800's with Hitler's birth, and goes through 1936 right as Hitler re-militarized the Rhineland and hit an apex of his personal Fürher cult within Germany. One of the most amazing–and terrifying ...more
Leonard Armstrong
I have read a number of popular, multi-volume or extra-length biographies. (Manchester's "The Last Lion" series; McCullough's "John Adams"; Lewisohn's "The Beatles: All These Years") Although all these books have impressive reviews, I've felt the same way about all of them: they are seriously in need of editing. The length comes from a huge volume of minutiae and, in some case, author speculation. In short, all these books could lose anywhere form one third to one half the volume without a signi ...more
Czarny Pies
Aug 30, 2014 Czarny Pies rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who wants to read a credible explanation of how the nightmare happened
Recommended to Czarny by: Antony Beevor, Norman Davies
Shelves: european-history
Ian Kershaw's biography of Hitler is a remarkable book. It analyzes the how the skills that Hitler possessed at the time and place where he lived allowed him to provoke such momentous events without making Hitler appear to be a hero. At the same time, Kershaw is able to present Hitler as a lazy, uneducated, disorganized and socially impaired as well as being rash and indecisive simultaneously without making him laughable. It is quite a balance act. At the end of Volume I, the reader is convinced ...more
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Professor Sir Ian Kershaw is a British historian, noted for his biographies of Adolf Hitler.
Ian Kershaw studied at Liverpool (BA) and Oxford (D. Phil). He was a lecturer first in medieval, then in modern, history at the University of Manchester. In 1983-4 he was Visiting Professor of Modern History at the Ruhr University in Bochum, West Germany. From 1987 to 1989 he was Professor of Modern Histor
More about Ian Kershaw...

Other Books in the Series

Hitler (2 books)
  • Hitler, Vol 2: 1936-1945 Nemesis
Hitler, Vol 2: 1936-1945 Nemesis Hitler The End: The Defiance and Destruction of Hitler's Germany 1944-45 Fateful Choices: Ten Decisions That Changed the World, 1940-1941 The Hitler Myth: Image and Reality in the Third Reich

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