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Hitler (Penguin Classic Biography)

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4.21  ·  Rating details ·  1,956 ratings  ·  49 reviews
A best-seller in its original German edition and subsequently translated into more than a dozen languages, Joachim Fest's Hitler has become a classic portrait of a man, a nation, and an era.
Paperback, 864 pages
Published February 7th 2002 by Penguin Classics (first published 1973)
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Donato Colangelo No, the movie was based on another good book of the same author, "Inside Hitler's Bunker: The Last Days of the Third Reich". Fest was an able…moreNo, the movie was based on another good book of the same author, "Inside Hitler's Bunker: The Last Days of the Third Reich". Fest was an able narrator, his books on nazism are impressively good and, if I may, I would advice you to read Inside Hitler's Bunker.
Very good too, is another book, based on the resistance to nazism during the regime, "Plotting Hitler's Death", that is the book that introduced Fest to me. (less)
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Average rating 4.21  · 
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 ·  1,956 ratings  ·  49 reviews


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Eric
Jan 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
While this biography of Hitler—published in 1973 it was the first ever by a German writer—fell into my hands as serendipitously as such books always do (my reading is planful and curricular only when it comes to New World slavery, and Virginia Woolf), I did open it seeking answers to some definite questions. One of which is: in what milieu, and under what conditions, was Adolf Hitler considered not only a serious statesman, but a National Redeemer, and an inexorable Man of Destiny? And yeah, we ...more
Lewis Weinstein
UPDATE 10-31-17 ...

Today's research for the sequel to A FLOOD OF EVIL ... In July 1939, Adolf Hitler said to Admiral Donitz: on no account must a war with Great Britain be allowed to develop .. A war with England would mean nothing less than "finis Germaniae" ... in September 1939, Germany invaded Poland, after which England (and France) declared war on Germany ... This is the way dictators end up killing 60 million people and destroying their own countries ... we must never forget t
...more
Jeffrey
Dec 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-military
Great book, right up there with William L. Shirer's "Berlin Diary" and "Rise and Fall of the Third Reich." A must-read for those interested in how Hitler came to power in Germany and the lessons and relevance to modern political demagogues and movements. Very long (700 pages) but it flies by if you're interested in the topic.
Nathaniel Spencer
Just in case you feel compelled to read through the nightmarish rise and catastrophic fall of history's most infamous person, here you go. Five stars for this doorstop work of non-fiction personality horror.

Joachim Fest's 1973 bio, the only Hitler bio I've read, is an impeccable analysis of the times, the man, the mood of the age, the nature of totalitarianism and dictatorship, and the social psychology of leader-narcissism and mass-delusion. The nightmare that descended upon Germany, and then
...more
Wendy
Apr 04, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 Stars really - a comprehensive look at the life and deeds of one of the central figures of World War II.
We all know about the concentration camps, the Holocaust, the forced sterilization and elimination of those considered "weak" or "feeble-minded". However, to characterize Adolf Hitler as just "evil" or "crazy" is a gross over-simplification. To justify Germany of that time accepting his leadership as somehow, being under hypnosis or trickery is also a disservice to history. The author ex
...more
David K. Lemons
Jun 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A penetrating portrait of evil by a former youth who fought in the Wehrmacht who later became a psychoanalyst. This book was so well researched and written that I may read it again. I did re-read sections on several occasions which will lead me to take on Ian Kershaw's most thorough biography.
Kit
Jul 22, 2017 marked it as to-read-per  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: to-read-pol-hist
In the introduction of Volker Ullrich's Hitler: Ascent 1889–1939, the author describes the only four seminal biographies of Adolf Hitler.

Of Fest's book he writes:
The thesis that Hitler was basically a power-hungry political opportunist came in for some heavy historical revision in the following decades. Above all, historian Eberhard Jäckel convincingly demonstrated in the late 1960s that Hitler did indeed maintain a consistent world view, no matter how extreme and insane, and that this
...more
Kim
Jan 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think this is the definitive biography of Hitler.
Kayla O'Regan
May 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
This book is quite daunting-- I mean, who wants to spend hours reading over 800 pages about someone as shitty as Hitler? But on the other hand, aren't you curious how an average, solitary Austrian kid became the ruler of the third Reich and a conductor of genocide? Well, I was a little curious, and my Papa left this book behind when he passed away, so I decided to ruin a number of summery days reading about Adolf Hitler.

This is a remarkable biography, probably the best ever written of Hitler an
...more
Mark
Sep 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, biography
A great and insightful biography. We take history for granted, after all it did happen, but this story as fiction would be unbelievable. I had a peculiar surreal dream-like feeling during the part of the biography covering the late 20s - you know, it's time to wake up now! I haven't read a lot of Hitler biographies, but this one certainly seems to give a coherent and consistent psychological picture. It makes you wish you could have been present (and had a revolver), and it makes me think agai ...more
Robert
Dec 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very very good read. tons of personal info and interesting facts. Spoiler alert: He's still a monster of unmatched magnatude!!!!!!
Daniel
Jan 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book covers in alot of detail the early life of Hitler, an area I wasn't as familiar with.
Darren Goossens
Sep 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, military
Review from https://darrengoossens.wordpress.com/2015/09/07/the-hollow-man-filled-with-hate/.


Hitler by Joachim C. Fest, Weidenfeld and Nicholson, London, 1974. 844 pages. Translated by Richard and Clara Winston.
Title page of <i>Hitler</i> by J.C.Fest. Cancelled from the Monash University library. Title page of Hitler by J.C.Fest. Cancelled from the Monash University library.

 

This is a biography, though after about 1933 it really becomes a history of the third Reich, albeit one that pays even more attention that usual to the Führer's quirks and foibles -- for Hitler is always, always, viewed from some distance. The tenor ihttps://darrengoossens.wordpress.com/2015/09/07/the-hollow-man-filled-with-hate/.
...more
Brian Ross
Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a must-read and is particularly relevant to current events.

This is a "life and times" biography of a subject whose life was both deliberately obscured and propagandized, starting with Hitler himself, and later by the Nazi propaganda machine. Fest, a German historian writing in 1973, tries to analyse Hitler's rise despite knowledge of how things turned out - that is, it is hard to even begin to comprehend how this demagogue could have been elected Chancellor seen through the l
...more
Sean Baity
This may be the best biography and history book I've ever read on any topic. I suffered from a paltry public school education where European history was glossed over, and WW2 was a few paragraphs. Aside from that, most of what I learned was from poorly written Hollywood movies and cold war-era documentaries, so digging deep into this period of German history -written by a German - was a real eye opener.
This book will make you understand how an entire nation came under the Nazi spell, and how th
...more
Randy
Jan 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Our fascination with Hitler continues. We've all had some experience with the neurotic, the personality disordered and sometimes the sociopath. What makes Hitler unique is that he managed to take control of a country then tried to take control of a good portion of the world. Fest, a German, who wrote this personality study in the seventies, has a unique and mostly objective take on the man. It turns out that Hitler, though he descended into madness, was a competent and effective politician who c ...more
Rachel Jerdin
Aug 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating! I thought there were parallels between Hitler abd Trump. There are b

Hitler did not connect with other people, except in how to use them or kill them. He was completely into himself and was able to intimidate others. I was unaware that there were many who were under him and hated him. There were several attempted or planned coups. This was well written. Of course, there was nothing written about Trump. That was my interest and surprisingly there were very clear parallels betw
...more
James Dickerson
Sep 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Was good in-depth book on the infamous leader of the Nazi party. Even though I had to read it for a class I really enjoyed learning more about the subject.
Michael
Mar 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An absorbing, fascinating, detailed analysis of Hitler's life, political acumen, hatreds, and weaknesses. You won't be able to regard Hitler the same way after reading this book.
Ansove
Aug 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enlighting
Howard Brazee
Nov 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hard book to read, I read a chapter at a time.

The first part of the book is most important - showing how Hitler became Hitler.

And it is an important read.
John Vincent Palatine
Despite some errors and his reliance on Albert Speer as a source, this is still one of the indispensable biographies on Hitler.
Lawrence
May 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A bestseller in its original German edition and subsequently translated into more than a dozen languages, Joachim Fest's Hitler as become a classic portrait of a man, a nation, and an era. Fest tells and interprets the extraordinary story of a man's and a nation's rise from impotence to absolute power, as Germany and Hitler, from shared premises, entered into their covenant. He shows Hitler exploiting the resentments of the shaken, post-World War I social order and seeing through all that was ho ...more
Agona Apell
Oct 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fest brings the reader face to face with the phenomenon that was Hitler:his humble origins, the passage through his formative influences, the revelation of his oratorical powers on which began the seemingly inexorable self-propulsion to the heights of power, the glory years when he presided over the economic and military recovery of Germany, the brilliant then catastrophic conduct of the war, and finally the shrinking of his power from the broad expanse of Europe to the narrow, shallow hole in w ...more
Donato Colangelo
May 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, biography
For the non-historian it is difficult to give a brief account of the magnificent work of J. Fest presented in this book. A thoroughgoing, interesting, compelling and, above all, complete and satisfying account of the life of Hitler and of the political, cultural and economical conditions of Europe in its totality. One would expect an easy book to read, but the issue is too complicated, too extended and too entangled to be narrated in a short 400 pages book. In my opinion Fest gave us the right g ...more
Chathamharrison
Mar 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: doorstoppers
This book was time-consuming, the writing is florid (German is sometimes a pain, sometimes a delight when translated; this book features both), and the material is crushingly, appropriately serious. What little relief abides is in the passages illustrating the obsessive, nearly farcical aspects of Hitler's character. Don't let that scare you away.

In most histories, Hitler is described, sometimes accurately, too often not. In this book, more than any other, Hitler is understood. However great th
...more
Fritz
Jan 17, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was FORCED to read this treatise of Hitler's life for a History of World War Two course at the University of South Dakota. I found it to be overly complex, and the author had a tendency to attribute virtually every negative aspect of Hitler's over-analyzed life to the reason that Hitler did the things he did. It was an extremely difficult read. It was slow, excruciatingly detailed, and nearly as long as the man's life. It was way too much. I've sometimes thought about picking it up again and s ...more
Ted Newell
Jun 19, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Heard this was one of the definitive general biographies. Reader gets a sense of the active politician dodging and weaving and often nearly losing in the lead up to the Beer Hall Putsch. History is contingent. What if. Here is a maker of history one wishes had not "succeeded" -- history is far from trends and forces, F. Braudel, the Annales school, and tectonic scale history notwithstanding.
Michelle
Feb 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, hitlerrific
I've read it twice, once when I was 10, then again in college. It was one of my first adult books, along with Helter Skelter. My dad left these 2 books next to the crapper along with a pile of LeCarre novels.
Preethi
Mar 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book is a tough read. But the author doesn't simply write about Hitler, but paints a picture of Hitler's environment and the European society at that time. This leaves us with an understanding of how Hitler was able to perversely influence the nation to further his own agenda.
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Joachim Clemens Fest (1926-2006) was a German historian, journalist, critic and editor, best known for his writings and public commentary on Nazi Germany, including an important biography of Adolf Hitler and books about Albert Speer and the German Resistance to Nazism. He was a leading figure in the debate among German historians about the Nazi period.
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“The need to magnify themselves, to bestir themselves, is characteristic of all illegitimates.” 1 likes
“Neither blindness nor ignorance corrupts people and governments. They soon realize where the path they have taken is leading them. But there is an impulse within them, favored by their natures and reinforced by their habits, which they do not resist; it continues to propel them forward as long as they have a remnant of strength. He who overcomes himself is divine. Most see their ruin before their eyes; but they go on into it.1 Leopold von Ranke” 1 likes
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