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At the age of twenty-four, in 1913, Adolf Hitler was eking out a living as a painter of pictures for tourists in Munich. Nothing marked him in any way as exceptional, but he did possess certain distinguishing characteristics: a capacity to hate, an inability to accept criticism, and a massive overconfidence in his own abilities. He was a socially and emotionally inadequate individual without direction, from whence came a sense of personal mission that would transform these weaknesses and liabilities into strengths—certainties that would provide him not only with a sense of identity, but of purpose in a communal enterprise. This is the focus of Laurence Rees’s social, psychological, and historical investigation into a personality that would end up articulating the hopes and dreams of millions of Germans.
(With 16 pages of black-and-white illustrations)
“Laurence Rees asks, as always, the right questions, and provides excellent answers. Blending oral testimony of contemporaries with documentary evidence, he offers sharp insight into the adulation of Hitler by millions of Germans that underpinned his ‘charismatic rule.’” —Sir Ian Kershaw, author of Hitler: A Biography
“Offering acerbic insight into Hitler’s ‘charismatic rule,’ this is an arresting account.” —The Telegraph (London)
“A useful vehicle for many of the first-hand accounts from eyewitnesses and participants . . . The book flows briskly and provides some illuminating perspectives along the way.” —The Independent on Sunday (London)
“A fascinating study.” —Antony Beevor, author of The Second World War
“So how did Hitler convince his generals to invade Russia and his subjects to ignore the genocide around them? This readable, fascinating book, a worthy addition to the vast literature surrounding Hitler, has plausible answers.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Rees moves easily from the broad themes of German politics and economics to the individual voices of those who supported and opposed Hitler. Incorporating most of the latest scholarship on Hitler, Rees provides valuable insights here into a topic that is not new.” —Library Journal
“Rees's spotlight on charisma forces us to think hard about what it means to persuade, to argue, to reason—or simply to assert one's will.” —The Chronicle of Higher Education