Written by acclaimed biographer A. N. Wilson, Hitler offers a short, sharp, gripping account of one of the twentieth century’s most monstrous and influential figures.
In 1923, a thirty-four year old Adolf Hitler was in prison after taking part in an unsuccessful putsch to overthrow the German government. Within a decade, he was the most powerful man in Europe.
As Germany’s leader, Hitler delivered full employment and what appeared to be a booming economy to the nation – while Britain was suffering punishing levels of unemployment with no real welfare benefits. His popularity seemed to know no bounds; the slow deprivation of civil freedoms and rights to Jews did not initially displease all Germans, and the full extent of Nazi anti-Semitic extermination plans were incredible to many even within their own movement – let alone to the outside world – when they began to be put into operation during the early 1940s.
Internationally, too, Hitler’s triumphs were extraordinary, and soon the Rhineland, Sudetenland and Austria fell to the German army, who suffered barely a casualty. By 1940, there was no doubt that Hitler was Europe’s master.
But there was another story – and in this utterly compelling short biography, acclaimed writer A.N. Wilson positions Hitler as a man who not only embodied the excesses of the Third Reich but one who also represented the mediocrity of what optimists called ‘the Century of the Common Man’. For all the limitations of his personal accomplishments – as the child of a poverty stricken family, with no great educational, military or moral qualifications for leadership – Hitler was able, by remarkable energy, superbly choreographed rallies and electrifying rhetoric, to become a second Napoleon.
In a field populated with lengthy tomes, Wilson’s brief, insightful portrait offers a compelling introduction to a man who continues to fascinate and appal.
‘In the best short biography of Adolf Hitler for three decades, A. N. Wilson goes straight to the essentials to explain what made the Fuhrer the phenomenon he was. His conclusions make fascinating, if occasionally uncomfortable, reading even two-thirds of a century after Hitler’s death.’
—Andrew Roberts, author of The Storm of War: A New History of the Second World War
‘A. N. Wilson is a born biographer and has an eye for the telling detail. In a book written with verve, insight, and imagination, he gives us a fresh look at Hitler. The story he tells is bound to interest and surprise even those who think they already know and understand this most curious historical figure, one who against all odds rose to become leader of Germany and then promptly brought about the greatest catastrophe in European history.’
—Robert Gellately, author of Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler: The Age of Social Catastrophe
‘brilliantly dissecting Hitler…. a stimulating triumph of the mind’ Sunday Express
‘brims with the author’s customary zip and zing’ The Spectator
‘Wilson…brings a witty, novelist’s insight into what made Hitler tick. He seems to understand Hitler’s character in a way many historians never could.’ Mail on Sunday
About the author
A. N. Wilson was born in 1950 and educated at Rugby and New College, Oxford. He was a lecturer at St Hugh’s College and New College from 1976 to 1981, and was then appointed Literary Editor of the Spectator. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1981. His novels include The Sweets of Pimlico, The Healing Art, Wise Virgin and biographies of Walter Scott, Milton and Tolstoy.