'I go with the certainty of a sleepwalker along the path
laid out for me by Providence' Adolf Hitler, 14 March
More than half a century after his suicide and the destruction
of his entire movement, Hitler continues to prey on the modern mind
to a degree which is quite unique. The sheer scale of the evils he
unleashed on the world have made him a demonic figure without equal
in modern history.
Ian Kershaw's Hitler allows us to come closer than ever
before to a serious understanding of the man and of the
catastrophic sequence of events which allowed a bizarre misfit to
climb from a Viennese doss-house to leadership of one of Europe's
most sophisticated countries.
With extraordinary skill and vividness, drawing on a huge range
of sources, this biography re-creates the world which first
thwarted and then nurtured the young Hitler - from his Habsburg
provincial roots to pre-War Vienna, from the crucible of the Great
War to the toxic political world of 1920s Bavaria.
As Hitler's seemingly pitiful fantasy of being Germany's saviour
attracted more and more support, Kershaw brilliantly conveys why so
many Germans adored him, connived with him or felt powerless to
resist him. At so many points the German élites could have
prevented Hitler's rise but each time they misjudged the monster in
their midst, until it was too late.
The book ends in 1936 with the march into the Rhineland. Through
this extraordinary coup Hitler gained an unassailable hold over
both the German people and the German military. Looking back on his
astonishing triumphs Hitler now fully believed in his own cult:
there was nothing he could not achieve. With Germany now firmly
(and willingly) under his heel, he turned his eyes to the wider