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Hitler's Charisma: Leading Millions into the Abyss

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  745 ratings  ·  87 reviews
Fuelled by hate, incapable of forming normal human relationships, unwilling to listen to dissenting voices, Adolf Hitler seemed an unlikely leader, and yet he commanded enormous support and was able to exert a powerful influence over those who encountered him. How did Hitler become such an attractive figure to millions of people? That is the question at the core of Hitler’ ...more
Kindle Edition, 368 pages
Published April 16th 2013 by Pantheon (first published 2012)
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3.97  · 
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 ·  745 ratings  ·  87 reviews


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Julian Hadlow
Apr 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I came to this book to try to understand what it is about human nature that allowed ostensibly one individual to affect the lives of millions of people, mostly in a negative way.

Laurence Rees cannot put what happened succinctly in a few words, because it turns out that there were many factors at work, needing the whole book to create the picture; but in a nutshell it was because the times, and the people allowed it to happen.

Germany was recovering after WWI, and the Allies had imposed huge repa
...more
Michael Flanagan
Nov 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ww-2, nazi
Laurence Rees deliver yet another fascinating book on World War II. He looks at Adolf Hitler and how he cast his spell over Germany. He delves into his own personal collection of unpublished interviews to ask the question what it was that made people follow him. The author takes great care to try and put us in the mindset of the average German during Hitler’s rule. As well as looking at the methods and tools used by Hitler and his staff to build him up as the saviour of Germany. We hear from tho ...more
Jill Hutchinson
The question that historians have struggled with since the rise of the Nazi party is how did Adolph Hitler, a non-preposessing cipher of a man become the most powerful man in the world albeit for only a little more than a decade. How did he convince many basically good people to either commit or ignore the most heinous crimes in history? The author searches for the answer and makes some good arguments for the creation of the "Hitler myth". I will not try to go into detail as to all the reasons w ...more
Jay Oza
Jul 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After you read this book, you sadly realize that Hitler's charisma was really his deep hatred of the Jews. He was not an extraordinary in any ways except how good he could articulate his hatred in speeches. While others at that time may have been more reserved or subtle about their hatred, Hitler was not and took it to an art form that made masses feel that hatred he felt and would do anything for him, even murder --- mass murder. This was Hitler's talent and this is how he came to power and cau ...more
Emmanuel Gustin
Laurence Rees sets out to identify and explain the human factors that brought Hitler to power and enabled him to retain his grip on a major European state despite his extraordinary nihilism and destructiveness.

Rees sees the answer in this mystery in Hitler's personal charismatic grip on other people, and in his ability to make millions believe in the myth, the vision, the drama, the dream of nearly-everlasting Third Reich. Vision, not policy; this was a regime founded on belief and not on reaso
...more
M.R. Dowsing
Oct 27, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you've ever seen footage of a Hitler speech and wondered why so many people followed him, this book sets out to provide an answer. The author's main point seems to be that charisma is in the eye of the beholder; for various reasons, a lot of people in Germany at the time were looking for someone like him to follow and were already pre-disposed to be susceptible to the "charisma" of Hitler.

If you are already well-versed on this subject, you may not learn a huge amount that is new, although so
...more
arjuna
Apr 11, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Starts off well, provides an interesting and credible take on the foundation of Hitler's rise to power, the conditions and events he was able to exploit (and how he exploited them) - particularly salient in view of the creeping trend towards "personality politics" worldwide... However, it peters out noticeably towards the end; gets very lacklustre and tired in tone. It's as if the author just gave up or couldn't be bothered and skipped to the end of the story to get it off his desk. Worth a look ...more
Glen Stott
Sep 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a study of Adolf Hitler as he progressed from a private in the Germany Army in WWI to become one of the most powerful men in the world. Lawrence delves into his personality and the cultural shock of Germans after losing the first world war, suffering the degradation of the Versailles treaty, and the economic deterioration that resulted. Hitler had a form of charisma that touched certain people but put many others off. Hitler hated democracy, religions – especially Christianity, and above ...more
Lucas Moctezuma
Jan 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An engaging exploration into Hitler’s powerful effect on those around him, how he led Germany into a shameful war and how it ultimately backfired on him.

Very interesting to see how this awkward “Bohemian corporal” rose from nothing to become the most powerful man in Germany using the art of persuasion.

What’s even more interesting is how people reacted and the different emotions people felt when hearing him, ranging from unconditional and obsessive love to outright disgust. His charisma didn’t w
...more
Lili Kyurkchiyska
Apr 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Горещо я препоръчвам на всички, дори и да не проявяват особен интерес към личността на чичко Адолф. Авторът пише разбираемо и прецизно, достоверно, с чувство за обективност. Проучването му е колкото историческо, толкова и психологическо, поставяйки ударение на факторите на средата, които спомагат за развитието на феномена в период от четвърт век (трябва да отбележа, че липсата на научен апарат прави книгата научнопопулярна). Смятам, че прочитът й е наложителен с оглед нуждата да познаваме метод ...more
Anna Kramarz-Sańpruch
Interesujesz się historią XX wieku? Totalitaryzmami? II wojną światową? A może po prostu kiedyś liznąłeś/liznęłaś trochę historii? Niezależnie od wybranej odpowiedzi, mam wrażenie, że pewnie kiedyś ta myśl pojawiła się w twojej głowie. Zagadka, paradoks tak dziwaczny i tak brzemienny w skutki jednocześnie. Pytanie, na które wcale nie jest łatwo znaleźć odpowiedź. Jak to się stało? Jak to możliwe, że Niemcy, stary i rozsądny naród, uwierzyli w ideę supremacji wysokich, niebieskookich blondynów Ar ...more
Becky Kelly
Interesting point of view, but I don't feel that I learned anything new really, except perhaps a little about Hitler's early life. Average to good. 3 stars.
Bonnie
Jun 19, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lawrence Rees focuses on the apparent charisma Hitler possessed to be able to exert a powerful influence over those he encountered. Rees starts with 1913 when Hitler was twenty-four and incapable of forming normal human relationships and unwilling to listen to dissent from his own narrow views. The book recounts his starting out with nothing and inheriting a small amount from an aunt that he used to start a business drawing portraits. He drifted in Vienna until he received 800 Kronen from his fa ...more
Dana
May 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the truly great mysteries of the twentieth century is how the German people followed Hitler into a moral abyss. How did such a cultured nation become the epitome of evil during the 1930’s and 1940’s? This book sets out to answer the question.
Author Laurence Rees does a masterful job of explaining how Hitler used the concept of the “slippery slope” to anesthetize the German people into committing/condoning horrific acts that only years before would have seemed unimaginable. For example, th
...more
Patricia O'Brien
The success of Hitler as a leader is one of history's imponderable mysteries and this book attempts to unravel why so many were in thrall. To document the rise of Nazism and the events of World War II is not the book's aim but rather to look more deeply into his behaviour and others response to him in the period; the use of prime sources is compelling. At the end of the book, one feels enlightened yet still completely mystified. Excellent.
Mark Shipton-smith
A good starting point for someone looking to explore the personality of Adolf Hitler. I've read a couple of books about Hitler in the past but none of them really explained what he was like as a person or what drew people to him. The emphasis was always on his political rise to power rather than his personality. This book helps to flesh out the character and ' charisma' of Hitler because, as Rees points out many times during his book, not everyone fell under his supposed spell.
victor harris
Sep 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Whether you agree with all his arguments and points, this is a good addition to the World War II reading collection. Very clearly written and well organized though a little repetitive in spots. Does a good job with the intricate diplomatic situation, and full of good anecdotes that I had never seen before.
Linda
Dec 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have read many books about Hitler and the Nazis but there is always something more to learn. Even though I still find it hard to comprehend how the Germans followed and admired him, this book does go into the reasons. This book compliments the BBC series which I did watch and enjoy.
Victor
Mar 22, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
não é nenhuma obra prima histórica, nem de perto bem de longe. um livro que vende por ter o nome Hitler na capa.
Jeff Elliott
I'm not sure if this book was better than I had hoped or not as good as I had hoped. It was surprisingly good in unexpected ways yet somewhat rabbit-trailed from the title. I'm sure it is indeed hard to do a psychological profile on someone who has been dead for so long but that's what I was hoping for. There were sections where Rees addressed the topic. Some highlights:

-[A charismatic leader is a...]quasi-religious figure. Followers of such a leader are looking for more than just lower taxes or
...more
Jordan
Jan 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
At times it felt like he was trying too hard to use the word "charismatic" just because he felt like he had to based on the title of the book and the angle he was trying to take on Hitler. And sometimes it got annoying to come across yet another comparison to some event and how it relates to Hitler's "charasmatic leadership", it was like ok we get it dude Hitler was charasmatic, say something else now..

BUT aside from that it's an awesome book. Not too dense like some of the other books on this
...more
Reinhardt
Jan 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant look at the rise and rule of Hitler. Taking Weber's notion of charismatic leadership (in contrast to bureaucratic leadership) Mr Rees presents a compelling case that Hitler led almost exclusively using charisma. The Reich is often viewed as a totalitarian police state, which it was, but the terror was limited to fringe groups. Average Germans were persuaded rather than compelled.

The staggering apotheosis from a ordinary corporal to Fuhrer is beyond comprehension but this book gives a
...more
Tom
Jun 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very accessible and interesting read on the psychology of Hitler and the people who followed him. There is a ton of material and the book covers Hitler as well as the other top Nazi's. Rees follows on from Kershaw and Max Weber's idea of charismatic leadership and how it influenced those around him.

The book covers his time from being a young man until the day he committed suicide in his bunker. There is a lot to cover here but the writer does it with great skill.
Vasilios Loutrianakis
This was an absolutely amazing historical novel about one of history's most feared dictators. The book examines what made Hitler into who he was before WWII, it examines why in his mind he believed what he was doing was right, but most scary of all it examines why so many people followed him. "The Dark Charisma of Adolf Hitler" gives an extraordinary look on the psychology of one of the worst men in history.
Philip Battle
Dec 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
More about the mass psychology of fascism and why individuals and millions of people fell for the charms of a complete lunatic. Why did the majority of people prefer to live in an illusion rather than face up to the truth - man comeith with Utopian dreams and the masses gobble it up! Could we learn anything from this parable? HELL YES! But please don't burn the books, READ MORE.

Great Book *****Five Stars*****
Seylene  sl
Aug 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
no sense of remorse until the end? ! His charisma only worked because the followers share certain beliefs and sentiment with him. So much pain and suffering caused by this demonic charisma.

And I just watched Hitler's speech on YouTube, must say it was strong and convincing. It's an extract speech of around 10 minutes, most were appealing calling German people to work together, helped each other and Heil Germany. But there was actually so much hatred behind this speech.
Inês
Sep 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Livro excelente embora que bastante exigente culturalmente. Recomendo apenas a verdadeiros amantes de história, caso não o sejam este livro poderá tornar se um pouco aborrecido pois é longo e excessivamente pormenorizado. Parabéns ao Laurence Rees por todos os detalhes e testemunhas que conseguiu reunir, trabalho fantástico de pesquisa.
Andrew
Jul 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Exceptional! This really gets to the monstrous black heart of Hitler...a man whose charisma only had the worst effects on vengeful Germans suffering the humiliations of the Great War & the Versailles Treaty of 1919. A nightmare for all of the politicians in the desperate 1930s. A real triumph of this 'modern' historian's scholarship.
Jennifer W
I found the first half of the book much more interesting than the second. The first few chapters had me constantly thinking "this sounds scarily familiar to certain people in power today." However, much of the book was dry. Glad to have read it, glad to be done.
Heidi
May 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book also provides insight into Trump. Unfortunately, I can now empathize with the Germans who didn't support Hitler and walked around stunned wondering what the hell people saw in their newly elected officials.
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In addition to writing, Rees has also produced films about World War II for the BBC.

In New York in January 2009, Laurence was presented with the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ by ‘History Makers’, the worldwide congress of History and Current Affairs programme makers

In 2011 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate (DUniv) by The Open University(UK).