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Hitler: Ascent: 1889-1939

(Adolf Hitler #1)

4.43  ·  Rating details ·  1,763 ratings  ·  238 reviews
A New York Times bestseller, this major new biography of Hitler puts an emphasis on the man himself: his personality, his temperament, and his beliefs.
Volker Ullrich's Hitler, the first in a two-volume biography, has changed the way scholars and laypeople alike understand the man who has become the personification of evil. Drawing on previously unseen papers and new schol
Paperback, 998 pages
Published October 24th 2017 by Vintage (first published September 30th 2013)
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Jason Page Both books are exceptional and you will learn an exceptional amount from either book. Both are well written and read relatively quickly for such a den…moreBoth books are exceptional and you will learn an exceptional amount from either book. Both are well written and read relatively quickly for such a dense topic. One thing to keep in mind is that this is a two volume study, and while both volumes of Kershaw's work are available you'll be waiting for awhile for Ulrich's second volume. Ulrich's work draws from Goering's diary which wasn't available 15 years ago for Kershaw to draw from. In my opinion their isn't a bad choice to make, but if you're having to choose hopefully this helps you make a decision.(less)
Idan Feldman I am as impatient as you are....can't wait to read volume II! …moreI am as impatient as you are....can't wait to read volume II! (less)
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Michael Finocchiaro
I cannot find any fault with Volker Ullrich's Hitler: Ascent 1889-1939. It is articulate, heavily researched, fearless in challenging long-held assumptions with historical facts and overall just a terrifying pleasure to read. Note that in the last volume of Karl Ove Knausgaard's My Struggle, there is a fantastic aside of several hundred pages about Hitler which also makes for an interesting read! Anyway, back to Ullrich...the next volume is supposed to appear in June 2020 from Bodley Head with I ...more
Mar 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hitler: The Ascent (1889-1939) by Volker Ullrich is a 2016 Knopf publication.

Obviously, this is not the type of book I typically read. My husband and son read books, watch documentaries, and movies about world war two all the time, and I always find something else to do.

While I do enjoy reading about history, this period of history and the topic of war is just not my thing. Hitler is a person I prefer not to think about and I certainly don’t like the images that war conjures up. So, why did I
Maru Kun
When I see leading historians of 1930’s Germany being asked if the Nazis and the Trump administration have anything in common I used to expect them to chuckle politely, quote Godwin’s Law and tell us how different 21st century America is from pre-WW2 Europe. Sad to say, but this is not what they do.

Well before Trump expressed his sympathy for the “…good people…” attending the neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Richard J. Evans was writing about how the Trump administration was ‘Too Close for Com
Michael Perkins
Feb 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Thanks to a NYT review of this book by Michiko Kakutani (that actually came out before Trump was elected) we have the following bullet points to sum up Hitler as presented in Volker Ullrich's biography..

Seriously who does this remind us of in every detail?

• Hitler was often described as an egomaniac who “only loved himself” — a narcissist with a taste for self-dramatization and a “characteristic fondness for superlatives.” His manic speeches and penchant for taking all-or-nothing risks raised qu
Apr 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Hitler – Demystified

Most people today think that they know a lot about Hitler, that any more books about him are a waste of time and add nothing. This book on Hitler is the Volker Ullrich’s first volume on Hitler, that demystifies some of the ‘legends’ that have grown around him, examines how this Austrian came to lead Germany, rebuild confidence in the country and build a cult around himself.

In my opinion this magisterial volume builds and compliments the work of Sir Ian Kershaw and Ullrich al
Bryan Alkire
Oct 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good biography. This is a reread for me. I’m not quite as impressed second time around, but still good. I preferred the chapters dealing with Hitler’s family, childhood, young adulthood and aspects of his personal life. I could have done without quite so detailed chapters on the history of the third Reich generally. Still, since the Reich was basically Hitler, I understand why the author did it that way. The writing is mostly readable though the book could have been shortened a bit. Still, I wou ...more
Steven Z.
Oct 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The public’s fascination with Adolf Hitler remains strong even sixty years after his suicide in the Fuhrer bunker in April, 1945. To date over 120,000 books have been written about Hitler and Volker Ullrich’s new biography, HITLER: ASCENT 1889-1939 is a welcome addition to this ever increasing bibliography. Up until now Ian Kershaw’s two volume work was the recognized standard in this genre replacing earlier volumes by Alan Bullock, and Joachim Fest as the most comprehensive works on Hitler. Ker ...more
Spencer Quinn
Jan 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a review of the hardcover, not the audio. This is the third of the 4 major Hitler bios that I've read. In some strange way, the appalling story never gets old. Ullrich is a very good writer with an instinct for the telling details and where to put them. Despite that, I could only read the book in twenty or thirty page chunks. It's just too depressing - how lucky Hitler was, how many times his way could have been blocked forever but was not, the disgusting character of the other top Nazis ...more
Adrian Hon
Jan 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Highly readable yet excruciatingly detailed account of Hitler's rise to power. Volker Ullrich is both a historian and a journalist, and it shows, since he makes this one of the most accessible 'serious' biographies I've ever read.

Like everyone who's taken GCSE History, I know the bullet points of pre-WW2 Germany: how Hitler was a frustrated artist, the Beer Hall putsch, Night of the Long Knives, Kristallnacht, "peace in our time", etc. This book turns them into a story that makes sense.

What's u
Extremely detailed (maybe a tad too much detail at times). Nonetheless, this book covers Hitler's rise to power and provides analysis into his personal life, relationships with the German people, the churches and his ability to instil a messiah-like faith in his capabilities.
A 750 page tome, where Hitler's early life up to the end of WWI is covered in the first 70 pages. So little is known of his early life. Ullrich's book goes on to show how little is known about Hitler the man. While it is kno
Antonio Nunez
Jan 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ullrich’s first volume of his Hitler biography is superb. Perhaps we are now far away from Hitler to be able to see him at least somewhat dispassionately. In this book Hitler the watercolor painter, the soldier, the rabble rouser, the politician, the lover, comes alive. He was a rather pedestrian man, of conventional tastes, but quite cultured and exceptionally smart and tough. He had no friends, only associates and these only inasmuch as they were useful. He was a gifted actor and a master mani ...more
May 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Truly an excellent and detailed book about the life and ascension of Hitler until 1939 !

Highly recommended!

Nov 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Outstanding First of a Two Volume Biography

This is an excellent biography of Adolf Hitler in the ascent of his rise rise as Fuhrer. It covers his childhood, trouble in school, attempt at being a painter and his entrance as a soldier in WWI. Later he becomes involved in the government using repeated tropes, that Jews were the cause of the Treaty of Versailles, the problems with the government and working steadily to increase popularity and power. The book goes up to 1939 when he has invaded Czec
Nov 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been having one of those weeks when I finish several books that I've been working on for a long time, and I clear the decks!

Like the title says, this book covers Hitler's life up to the weeks before Germany invaded Poland and started World War II. By that time, Britain, France, and the United States had had enough of Hitler. He had shown himself to be utterly untrustworthy. As the author makes clear, by the time Hitler brought himself to the brink of global war, his fate was already sealed.
Sep 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An interesting biography of Adolf Hitler. I have read many biographies of Adolf Hitler and besides Ian Kershaw's 2 volume biography, This one ranks as the best. Hitler Ascent, 1889-1939 goes into his early childhood and throughout his struggling years as a artist in Vienna until serving in the German Army during World War I where he recovered in a hospital from a gas attack. He was involved in 1923 in the Beer Hall Putsch and started a revolution to overthrow the government which was unsuccessfu ...more
Oct 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The first volume (with a second volume to follow) of Volker Ullrich's new biography of Hitler is very good. There are lots of Hitler biographies out there and this one is comparable to the greats, such as Kershaw's two volume work. Why the need for a new Hitler bio? Ullrich addresses this himself in the introduction - he has some new sources to tap and there is such interest that new generations need to be reintroduced this is very strange man. In part, the topic is fascinating. Besides Jesus, t ...more
This must have been the most compulsive book that I have ever read. Normally with a biography of this size there is some part that you just want to get through to get to the more exciting sections but that never happened at all with this. The whole thing was fascinating and unbelievably thorough in covering subjects from all angles. There must have been a huge amount of research involved.

I knew the gist of the subject matter but this book was difference in that it really shows you Hitler as a pe
Robert Miller
Nov 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So much has been written about Hitler that I confess that I was of the opinion that a book of this size would be mired down with boring expatiating writing and endless copious footnote references: Otherwise, I thought, how could the book contain 758 pages. How could such a book be interesting? But the book does contain much information that has not collectively appeared in other related books I have read about Hitler and it is a fascinating read (I cheated by buying the audible and hardcover ver ...more
This is a difficult book to rate. It is obviously an incredibly detailed look at the life of Hitler and his rise to power up to the German takeover of Czechoslovakia. The problem for me was the details. They were overwhelming. There were hundreds, if not thousands of names in this that I did not recognize and had a hard time following. At some points it felt as if this book was dealing with issues one day or one week at a time. It also focused almost exclusively on Hitler. Many history books wou ...more
Joseph Raffetto
Nov 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Hitler: Ascent, 1889-1939 is a well-researched and well-written biography.

Ullrich's task of bringing this to life is challenging for one reason: Hitler is not interesting. There's almost nothing about Hitler the person that's compelling.

Orwell wrote that Hitler was a "criminal lunatic." That's the consistent theme of this book and Hitler never diverts from being a criminal lunatic. And not even an interesting lunatic.

However, this is a detailed and fascinating portrait of Hitler's rise to powe
Tim Julian
Sep 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've read a few Hitler biographies over the years, most notably those by Alan Bullock and Ian Kershaw, but this one sounded like it broke new ground so I thought I'd give it a go. It's excellent, sober and detailed while still managing to be extremely readable.
Earlier biographies, understandably anxious to avoid burnishing the myth, have tended to underplay Hitler's talents, leading the reader to wonder how such a mediocre and repulsive nobody came to wield such power. Ullrich is scrupulous in s
John Collins
Jan 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Strange as it sounds, I'd been looking for a biography last year that covered the rise of Hitler–not the war years, but the years of his coming to power. In our current events climate in which authoritarianism took a higher profile, this historical context seemed worthwhile, even if there was not a direct correlation between Hitler and current events.

I researched a few titles and didn't feel they were quite what I was looking for, so the NY Times review of "Hitler: Ascent, 1889-1939" (https://ww
Oct 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not a pleasant or enjoyable subject to read about, but I think it is absolutely critical to understand, right here and right now, exactly how a raving maniac was able to subvert an elected government and seize absolute power. I'm hoping the US will be lucky this time, but bear in mind, it took Hitler a couple tries before he was successful.

Absolutely stunning historical biography. Ullrich has digested all of the primary and secondary sources and produced not just a gripping narrative of Hitler'
Feb 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
this book is great and wild and readable and tough and gruesome. hitler was just like everyone else while still being a monster. terrifying.
Nov 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ends with such a cliffhanger. Now I need to wait for the second book to find out what happens next!
Dick Reynolds
Jan 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a difficult book to read; you know what’s coming and there’s nothing you can do to save the lives of millions of innocent people. Nevertheless, it provides many insights into Hitler’s character, how he achieved power in Germany after WWI, and some cautionary lessons for Americans in the 21st century.
Adolph was Klara Hitler’s fourth child and the only one who survived childhood. Klara developed breast cancer when he was a youth and she was treated by Dr. Eduard Bloch. Bloch removed the
Chuck Slack
Jan 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to understand how Hitler came to power and how his views became accepted, endorsed, and implemented by others. This book, translated from German, is very well written and researched. It is not an easy read, to be expected, but if you can commit the energy and time, it is well worth it. Very highly recommended.
Feb 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A well-studied and resourced book I wanted to read in part because many of my ancestors are of German heritage but also because I want to know WHY, HOW, did this happen? Who knew, would have or could have could have suspected how horrific the final outcome and the unfathomable number of innocent lives that would be lost. I have seen throughout the course of reading this book and another that it wasn't just the Germans who failed, the world at large who failed to stop a bully who would cause bloo ...more
Apr 08, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: biographies, history
This is a book for people who love history and to know what really happened in Germany between the two world wars. If you thought you knew how Hitler really was, you might find yourself really wrong about him. This book shows you his character and behaviour. It brings you his politics and ideas, like for instance the idea of bringing all the German Jews to Madagascar 1937 or so. And it tells you about his love affairs. How one of his girlfriends killed herself, other one tried to and how Eva Bra ...more
Mar 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Gerhard Weinberg wrote of the "30 years European civil war" in reference to the first and second World Wars. It becomes apparent Gavrilo Princip's murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand set in motion events unbound in their specter. Simply put, without the Great War and its ramifications the rise of Hitler is a near impossibility. The details of which are explored in this deeply sourced and well-written biography by Volker Ullrich. The only thing I can say for sure about this book is that while hist ...more
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Volker Ullrich was born in Celle. He studied history, literature, philosophy and education at the University of Hamburg. From 1966 to 1969 he was assistant to the Hamburg’s Egmont Zechlin Chair. He graduated in 1975 after a dissertation on the Hamburg labour movement of the early 20th Century, after which he worked as a Hamburg school teacher. He was, for a time, a lecturer in politics at the Lüne ...more

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