Greg's Reviews > Mein Kampf

Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler
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's review
Jul 30, 07

really liked it
Recommended to Greg by: posterity.
Recommended for: People with a strong grasp of 20th century history.
Read in June, 2003 — I own a copy

(added March 2013)
This review is popular enough that I feel obliged to add something I hadn't thought about when I first wrote it, especially now that my 'internet presence' or something matters.
I had a very good social studies teacher in 12th grade. He started his 20th century history class with one word - Nationalism. This was the recurring theme for all of the 20th century, as he understood it, and thus the class. He was right, or at least as right about 20th century history as you can be in a Catholic High School, and it took going through the first 2.5 years of the St. John's curriculum (where I was when I originally wrote this review), including an unorthodox classical Western history element and immersive studying Thucydides (translated by Thomas Hobbes, natch) the same academic year I watched airliners fly into the Eastern Seaboard, to realize the significance of that nationalism.
Note ". . . the significance of that nationalism," not " . . .that aforementioned nationalism explains everything that happened between 1900 and the present."

I disagree with Hitler, but his opinions are worth understanding. I gave this book four stars for its historical significance, not my opinion of its content on moral, military, political, biological, or literary merits. I don't share those here because outside of biological fact (wrong to the point of headscratching), military strategy (Dude invaded Russia in winter. Seriously.), and literary quality (Ever read a translator's introduction explaining his or her biggest challenge was the awful original prose?), they're subtle enough that I don't feel like letting the sampling of people who comment here abuse me more. A lot of people think I Am Not Mean Enough To The Bad Man.

This should not be the first book you read about World War II, Adolf Hitler, Germany, fascism, or nationalism. This should be something you read after you've developed a decent factual grasp, maybe even some opinions, on 20th century history broadly (including the basics on WWI and II, maybe even the consequences of how the latter ended, definitely the consequences of how the former ended) and want to understand it better. It made me very glad I had developed a very, very dorky interest in World War 2 during junior high.

(end addition)

Chomsky of all people talked me into reading this book.
Hitler, like all believers in traditional government, held that his vision of government was best for everyone. He was, as an individual, the elite in the sense of the plural "vanguard" in Leninism, and the "greater number" according to Madison/Publius, the community as a whole in consensus-governed communities, and so on.
Hitler conceivably wished to make the world a better place. He simply felt that this involved killing lots of people and German domination of the entire globe - under his rule, of course.

Valuable as a historical document, reflection on political theory, and as a personal memoir. It is terribly written. That doesn't matter.
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Comments (showing 1-50 of 71) (71 new)

message 1: by Eve (new)

Eve Knezevich how do you say leftist and like chomsky?

Greg Eve,
Chomsky is very much a leftist.
I'd offer more insight, except I can't imagine where one would develop the confusion that Noam Chomsky's views were anywhere except the left.
I would have made this a personal message, but your profile settings make that impossible.

Karianna Nothing about this book or Hitler himself is anything but garbage.

Greg Do you only read authors you agree with?

Karianna I have read this trash along with many other authors I disagree with, however while sometimes reading an opposing view may gain you insight, this book had absolutely nothing to be gained inside it's pages

Greg Is there a better firsthand account of the events leading up to the second world war, particularly from a German nationalist perspective?

Karianna I can see your point of view, however I don't think it's wise or prudent to give any credence to evil actions and therefor Adolf Hitler's point of view is moot. History has judged him as a monster and evil.

Greg Karianna,
I don't think you see my "point of view." (sic)
It's very wise to read bad people talk about what they want(ed) to do and why, especially when they are (were) this wildly successful.
Karianna, what action do you suggest we take based on your observations that the book has no value?
Should your country of residence begin banning books that "give . . . credence to evil actions"?
Perhaps we should start regulating performances of Wagner's operas in Germany, as it encourages Germans to reclaim Poland as a vital part of the Fatherland, and perhaps we should stop publishing the foundational American works as they are entirely justification for war due to mere financial inconvenience for a small part of the colonial population?
I'm all ears.

Karianna I don't believe that ANY book should ever be banned. I have no problems with anyone reading this book, (as I have previously stated I have read it) what offends is the fact that you actually give credence to the subject material. That is where the line is crossed. Comparing it to modern standards, it would be like reading the memoirs of George W. Bush and saying "Wow what great ideas he had!' Now I am not saying that George W. Bush is like Adolf Hitler (Hitler was far more intelligent, much better at making people into sheep, and had far stronger speech abilities than Bush) but similarities are striking.

message 10: by Greg (new) - rated it 4 stars

Greg Karianna,
Would you care to explain what you mean when you claim I "give credence to the subject material"?

Karianna By A) claiming that the book had substance and B) claiming that it has value

message 12: by Greg (new) - rated it 4 stars

Greg It does have substance, and value. It makes a relatively simple argument, and while I disagree with that argument, it is an important argument to be familiar with. You cannot understand 20th century history in any sense without reading this book.

Now, would you like to present an argument rather than ad hominem? If you are simply going to say "OMG HITLER IS BAD" again, I don't see the point in continuing our discussion, and I will consider further posts to that effect harassment.

Karianna I already posed the argument, but you're too dumb to understand it. Consider our discussion over. Get over it kid, and grow up.

message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

I'm objective here, having not yet read this, but I can say right now the person who actually does need to grow up is Karianna and not Greg.

It is also refreshing to read a review of this book that isn't a 1 star "I don't like Nazis" review. It's like: No shit, tell me about the book now... maybe?

message 15: by Mandy (new)

Mandy Gotta agree with Eric :)

message 16: by Paula (new)

Paula People are intrested about Julius Caesar and Attila the Hun but not yet Hitler. I think the value of the book is in the real words of Hitler that we can read. You don't have agree and you can hate him but you have the opportunity to look inside his head.

Hitler was a bad man and he did terrible things and those are the things we can't forget at being narrow-minded.

message 17: by Jeff (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jeff Parsons I enjoyed your review. I read the book, and enjoyed it, If you consider when it was written (Before the war) and actually take notes, the man was very clever.
Of course he later turned out to be a fanatic and madman. He was very cruel, but read between the lines and you get some insight to what he was thinking.
I would never agree with his polices, and can understand why we all now hate him. Nevertheless, its not a reason not to read his book.

I don't like Stephen King as a person, I think the guy is a jerk, but he is a great writer. So take the book as it is, I feel many of the responses here are from those who have never read the book, and have closed minds. I feel sorry for them.

message 18: by Greg (last edited Mar 06, 2010 12:40AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Greg Jeff,
Hitler was a mediocre person by every account I'm familiar with. Failed artist, day laborer, dull taste in women and art, ex-convict . . .
Just turns out the guy was a hell of a public speaker who really wanted to matter. He found a way to do that.
The book doesn't strike me as clever. I find it noteworthy because it's mostly a dry explanation of his desires for the future of Europe preceded by a poorly-written memoir and account of the wrongs done to Germany, under the presumption one can wrong a state as a whole. That's an odd way to be, considering this guy probably could have controlled all of Western Europe if he hadn't been dumb enough to invade Russia.

message 19: by Man (new)

Man O'neal I'm a little unsure of what you're saying in your review. Can you try to clarify...because I am interested.

message 20: by Greg (new) - rated it 4 stars

Greg Karim,
I'm saying this is a terribly-written book.
I'm also saying you *cannot* understand 20th century history, particularly Western European history, without reading both halves of this book, but especially the later half.

Does that cover your question?
Otherwise, please ask a direct question.

message 21: by Man (new)

Man O'neal Yeah, that's plenty clear. Thank you. Peace and love.

message 22: by Jakob (new)

Jakob You don't really explain your views. What is it that makes this book deserve 4 stars?

Although I don't necessarily agree with the way Karianna presented her argument I agree that the way you write the review could very easily be misunderstood.

message 23: by Greg (new) - rated it 4 stars

Greg What is it with this book?

Studying someone does not endorse their views.

If you have a serious question, then by all means ask it. If you simply wish to repeat the "wah wah I don't think you are mean enough to The Bad Man," please shut the fuck up.

message 24: by Greg (new) - rated it 4 stars

Greg And that's *before* you get to the book as a historical document, which I can't believe anyone needs to be persuaded of.

message 25: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan What I find interesting about this book is that he laid out his entire plan for WWII, and he never once deviated from the plan. From an Historical view, you are absolutely correct, this is a valuable work, as his second book. Sure, he was a madman, and his suicide was certainly not anything to mourn, but that does NOT mean that his writings should not be valued for the historical nature that they are. The same with the works of Andrew MacDonald, whose book The Turner Diaries inspired Timothy McVeigh to carry out the Oklahoma City bombing.

message 26: by Greg (new) - rated it 4 stars

Greg I'd put Mein Kampf a little higher on my reading list than The Turner Diaries.
I might change my mind in a couple decades, but for now it's no contest.

Point stands. Read dumb books by bad people.
Just know they're dumb.

message 27: by Nico (new) - added it

Nico You outlined the exact reasons I want to read this book- I would like to read Hitler's words and see his rationale and ideas, crazy though they nay be

message 28: by David (new) - rated it 1 star

David Acevedo Valuable as a historical document, reflection on political theory, and as a personal memoir...

Perhaps. We'd have to ask ourselves if the memoirs of monsters are valuable enough to preserve them as we'd preserve the memoirs of people who've contributed more to a better world.

message 29: by Greg (new) - rated it 4 stars

Greg Adolf Hitler is on the short list of important figures of the twentieth century. This book explains how he came to his conclusions about how politics ought to work and how to make it work that way. He was wrong.
Approach this book as a firsthand explanation of how
someone presented a deeply-flawed hypothesis about the proper structure of government and its relationship to nationalism, and convinced enough people he was right to (partially) cause the bloodiest conflict in human history.
We study flawed ideas because they help us understand why we have different ideas now, how the details of those ideas developed, we might want to revisit some parts of discarded ideas to develop new ideas, and so on. We don't throw away scientific papers when a new theory demonstrates their flaws, do we?
Preserving this book does not keep us from preserving other books.
Please, preserve away.

message 30: by David (last edited Aug 18, 2012 09:42PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

David Acevedo Greg wrote: "Adolf Hitler is on the short list of important figures of the twentieth century. This book explains how he came to his conclusions about how politics ought to work and how to make it work that way...."

Fair enough, although i DID burn my copy. Along with the bible. And boy, were the flames black.

Angela As a history teacher I agree that one should only read this after getting a decent factual grasp. If you don't have a good knowledge of the context it was written in you are not going to have a good time.

I thought your review was very measured and astute. I think it would reflect the general consensus of people who will read it as a historical document. Kudos.

Rafael I agree with you. I read it because I was really curious about this man, and how it became a leader and then that....
The fact is that I had the same conclusion: it's terribly written. But i guess it's a must read for anyone interested in history, regardless of his political view.

Anthony  Corbo Way to stick to your guns Greg. Cause when you give anything from Hitler 4 stars (just a coined phrase) "you brought your gun's to town" People's minds automatically go to disapproval. The history teacher is right when she says to read as creditable as possible literature on Hitler himself first. There are very good resources out there from books to the internet. This will enable you to actually enjoy this book because you will be able to tell just how much this man, first is an incredibly huge self-absorbed asshole and second, how he tries to present himself as WAY more intelligent then he really wasn't. Fabricating a lot to fit his demented fantasy word. I don't know but apparently a majority of people on this planet must love to be sheep because it is the only reason that I can think of that a underachiever such as Hitler (an insane one at that) could talk people into allowing his madness to take its course.

Juvenal Diaz Great view! And you are quite brave! I have the other comments and trust me, dealing with stupidity Is something really difficult!

message 35: by Fayley (new)

Fayley It can be helpful to get into the motivations of successful evil people. For example I once watched a documentary of convicted child molesters describing how they got away with it for so long (why adults believed them etc), and while horrifying and appalling it did cause me to change the way I was raising my children so as to better protect them. I am assuming that your 4 stars are for the insights you gained rather than your endorsement of the content!

message 36: by Suad (new) - rated it 5 stars

Suad Ali You gotta listen to all sides, you're not obligated to love or hate them, and that's why your review is honestly one of my favorite, you didn't judge, you just listened to both sides and for that I thank you sir.

message 37: by Kael (new)

Kael Fun reading the book when you know way too much about his childhood.

message 38: by Samantha (new)

Samantha its surprising to know that some people, upon hearing specific quotes quoted from Mein Kampf would agree with Hitler. But once they find out that the quote was by Hitler, they completely go against everything Hitler said, while attacking his ideologies. hmmm
(sorry for my bad english)

message 39: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Samantha wrote: "its surprising to know that some people, upon hearing specific quotes quoted from Mein Kampf would agree with Hitler. But once they find out that the quote was by Hitler, they completely go against..."Samantha, for a good chuckle, look up Miley Cyrus with Hitler quotes.

message 40: by Laura (new)

Laura I am about to start reading this book after reading the book thief. I liked how it was described there as a sheep handing the knife to the butcher when the Jew considered giving the book to the German child. This undoubtly one of the most powerful weapons used by Hitler and heiled as the nazi bible. It was refreshing to read a review on this book that wasn't "omg hitler bad"

message 41: by Circe (new) - added it

Circe Greg: "Do you only read authors you agree with?"

Hey Greg. Nice review. I also enjoyed reading your objective replies to some critics. Being the only reviewer who understand the significance of this literature not because of we have sympathy to his ideologies but because of the importance of this piece to history. I wish most people are as open minded as you are.

I have trained myself not to judge before I have seen/researched about it myself. Now, the society has been trained to blindly believe what is available and easier to believe. To hate what has been thought to be hated without understanding why in the first place. Some people are afraid to listen to anything that challenges their faith. I've gone tired of that. :) They don't even understand what they're hating. :P

message 42: by Circe (new) - added it

Circe Btw, I wouldn't have rated it 4 stars though. :P I would give no rating at all. :D It gave impression that you agree with his philosophy even when you don't. But I read your reviews and I finally understand why. ^^

message 43: by Circe (new) - added it

Circe rivka, if you aren't the opened minded type who understands psychological research, please do yourself a favor of not shaming yourself. Read before you react.

message 44: by Circe (new) - added it

Circe Nah Rivka. it takes centuries tl develop free thinking ability. if you do not understand what curiosity is, what delving into history through having the first hand accounts, don't bother those who do. before you say "idiot" please make sure that you're smart and also, check your shelves.

message 45: by Circe (new) - added it

Circe Who said I agree with killing and which fantasy tales did you base these conjectures from? Clearly you aren't into objective studying of history and how important this literature to history and psychology. I'm not going to argue with you as you need more to read to grow up.

message 46: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Rivka wrote: "You disagree with Hitler (wow, pat on the back for that one), but you think his opinions are worth understanding??
Wow, you're an idiot."
I'm Jewish, and I read this because I wanted to understand how, and why, he came to the idea that Jews, Blacks, Gypsies, and many others were not worth living. He was responsible for 11 million deaths. In order to prevent something like this from ever happening again, we need to be able understand motivations.

message 47: by Circe (last edited Jan 26, 2014 07:37PM) (new) - added it

Circe Jonathan, :)
Exactly why I am thinking about reading Mein Kampf. I recently watched a very good documentary of WWII which lead me to this book. It was a war beyond imagination and it made me really curious about what that guy Hitler had been thinking.

Btw, I am glad to meet similar free-thinkers and objective readers who are courageous enough to listen to matters that conflict their opinion and beliefs. By saying and joining the crowd "Oh Hitler is bad, this is a crap" without even really studying WWII history (you weren't even there) is almost the same as believing old-wives' tale. Believing something you haven't researched by yourself is poor foundation to critical thinking.

Hitler was a villain even to his own nation and I wanted to know how it went that way and why. A free thinker has nothing to be afraid about reading a controversial book. This book will give us a peek of how the main antagonist in the story line of WWII thought, what his philosophy was and prior to ruling, could he have leaked signs about his distorted personality which we can take as precautionary points now in choosing future leaders.

message 48: by Circe (last edited Jan 26, 2014 07:52PM) (new) - added it

Circe Greg wrote: "It does have substance, and value. It makes a relatively simple argument, and while I disagree with that argument, it is an important argument to be familiar with. You cannot understand 20th centur..."

I think those who haven't read it yet as well as those who aren't into WWII history will never understand your point. It's futile to explain it to people who have narrow interest on the subject. Some are contented making judgements without even researching on what they believe in. They just go on "Hitler is bad" etc. "OMG you read Hitler? That means you're bad too! You advocate his philosophy!" It's exhausting to hear this.

I sincerely understand your high regard for this piece of literature. It is a solid source for understanding the mind of the most wicked leader in the history.

message 49: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Circe wrote: "Jonathan, :)
Exactly why I am thinking about reading Mein Kampf. I recently watched a very good documentary of WWII which lead me to this book. It was a war beyond imagination and it made me really..."
My curiosity about events, and understanding why they happened, is why I have read The Turner Diaries (it's the book that inspired Timohty McVeigh).

If you're interested in Hitler, John Toland wrote an excellent biography. Albert Speer had some interesting things to say about him in his memoirs.

If you do read Mein Kampf, it will also be helpful to read the sequel, Zweites Buch (literally, Second Book).

message 50: by Musia (new)

Musia Okay, I know when it's time to back down and that's right now. Sorry everybody for my comments before, where I guess I came off close-minded and quite stupid.
Seriously, I regret it. I was pissed at the reviews on Goodreads saying "Yay Hitler, let's make him a birthday party" and pissed at Greg for giving Mein Kampf four freaking stars. (Plus man, he owns a copy.)

Perhaps I've already ruined my impression on you Circe, maybe it's too late to convince you that I'm not closed-minded. But see, I've read Mein Kampf. I've read every peace of literature I can possibly find on the Holocaust, because I too am Jewish, and a history-geek to boot. ("Rivka"? Sounds catholic to you?) I've read pages of denial of the Holocaust, so I can understand the "other side" and be able to properly discuss it with someone who wants to hear an answer. I've also spoken to survivors of the camps, and to my father whose aunts and uncles were gassed in the war.

But who gives Mein Kampf four stars? And owns a copy?
That's the only justification I have for my earlier behavior. Sorry again!

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