Hitler: Ascent, 1889-1939
The introduction of Hitler: Ascent, 1889-1939 makes clear there are four seminal biographies of Adolf Hitler. With that, Volker Ullrich—author of what is now surely the fifth—tasks his own work with justifying its place in the canon, something he does by focusing on Hitler as a human being. Deemphasizing—although certainly not ignoring—the social and political contexts of his rise to power, Hitler: Ascent treats its subject as a man worthy of study not because of the power he ruthlessly seized, but because of his personality’s dizzying dualities that left even his inner circle in the dark as to his true self.
Separating Hitler the man from Hitler the myth is no easy task, considering Hitler the man was the architect of much of his own myth. Consequently, Mr. Ullrich expends vast amounts of energy clarifying misconceptions of Hitler. It’s an incredibly thorough approach, although occasionally needlessly so: a rumor that Hitler was under a hypnotic spell during his rule over the Third Reich hardly deserves debunking. But it’s indicative of Mr. Ullrich’s detailed approach, and what’s remarkable is that, stripped of all sensational rumors, Hitler emerges even more terrifying for being human.
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