For the first time in 65 years, a modern, easy to understand, truly complete, and uncensored edition of Mein Kampf has been released, which reveals more than any past translation. This is also the first translation available in an English language audio format. Older translations altered passages, omitted passages, mistranslated Hitler's words, and made some parts more sensational while concealing the true meaning of other parts of the book. If you have read one of those older translations of Mein Kampf, then you have not read the real Mein Kampf, which is found only in the Ford Translation. Mein Kampf is often portrayed as nothing more than an anti-Semitic work; however, only six percent of it references the Jews. The rest contains Hitler's ideas and beliefs about a greater nation and his plan for accomplishing that goal. He outlines his plans for not only world conquest, but the conquest of the universe. The majority of the work involves Hitler's discussion of the German people's difficult times after the First World War, his political theories, and his organization of the Nazi Party, as well as many attacks against his enemies. Mein Kampf offers an interesting interpretation of politics, people, and foreign-policy matters. To characterize it as only a racist work is to oversimplify. The Ford Translation offers:
The most accurate translation ever produced Phrases that are translated with precision and without translator bias Uncommon words replaced with more common and meaningful terms References to unfamiliar people or places explained in the text All original passages and references restored, including passages omitted from other common translations This translation has corrected over 1,000 errors present in past translations and is the only edition so thoroughly researched and verified that it required a separate book (Mein Kampf: A Translation Controversy) to document the changes and corrections made.
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For years I've wondered what this book was like. I finally read the thing. I'm glad I waited because this is a down-to-earth, plebian translation with good footnoted explanations of obscure stuff. The narration, by an Englishman, is quite nice. There are some fancy-shmansy phrases to explain its methods of persuasion. What strikes me as foremost is "logical fallacies," which is when a person presents chains of logic that wander off into error. Adolph inked a lot of these, despite the book framing him as an exceptional thinker who studied, pondered, and experienced much of life. Hitler never declares himself a genius but hints at it several times. Here is one example of Hitler's questionable chain of thoughts—Germany has an exploding population; there is a ratio of how many persons a country's lands can support; German expansion inside of Europe is therefore necessary; but Germany is hemmed in by crowded Western countries wishing it ill; Germany's destiny lies to the east where open agricultural land may be populated with German blood; if Germans rid themselves of limiting philosophical shackles, and use their extraordinary blood-borne gifts of force and intelligence, they will take these lands and finally create Greater Germany. His thinking moves point-by-point towards (what we now know was) the cliff's edge. Here is another example—At the center of powerful countries has always been transplanted Arian/Nordic rulers; until Slavic Revolutionaries shot them, Russia had such a Germanic cadre who exercised some skill in governing the country; Russia is now ruled by inferior-blooded Slavs and Jews without the aptitude to govern; Russia's manufacturing base, under Jewish/Communist/Slavic hegemony, is not likely increase or modernize; making an ally of Russia is an idiot's action. Reason-following-reason, Adolf moves on to a mistaken conclusion. During his time as a Viennese drifter before WW1, Hitler obviously spent time in libraries. The book's pseudo-scholarly conceits echo this as well as the earlier pedantry of German public schools. He name-drops people and events in Hellenistic history. Still, there is no denying that he possessed a truly extraordinary gift for public speaking. Der Fuehrer rose to influence in Germany during a profound vacuum of leadership. Aristotle would call his appearance kairos: in the right place at the right time, saying the right things to the right audiences. Speaking (he writes) for hours, extemporizing brilliantly to the distressed citizens of the Weimar Republic who crowded in to hear him, it is understandable why his message of regained self-esteem and bright hope for the future struck sparks. Here is another fancy term important to the book—subjective validation. That's when a person gives legitimacy to ideas even as idiosyncratic as Hitler's National Socialism, because something inside needs them to be correct. No doubt a fair number of angry and miserable Germans internally legitimized the book's questionable reasoning out of collective emotional need. Of course, some in Germany were already captivated by the other great logical fallacy of the era that also promised Eden: Communism. Hitler writes a lot about physical confrontations with the Reds, their tactics, what their propaganda did right and what it did wrong. NSDAP members, he writes, were always ready to brawl with Communists and never backed up, even when out-numbered. By the 1920s, Hitler writes, he became a "master propagandist" who usurped the color red from his great adversary's camp for NSDAP ceremonies, and personally designed the swastika flag. One expects anti-Semitic harangues in Mein Kampf, and they are there, but not as much as expected. They increase in the later, added chapters from 1924. Lil' Adolph's line of anti-Jew argument goes something like—Jews are a nation without land, hence they favor multi-nationalism over patriotism; they stay in touch with one another and act in concert to subvert nations; they plot to bring Germany down and rule it, just as they did Russia, through Communism; Jews work to undermine a state's proper functioning to gain power; a reason for legislative bad decisions and sloth is Jewish influence in the Reichstag; the source of the bad reputations of German Racist parties (there were a number of them) is Jewish-controlled newspapers; Jews have inferior blood and wish to breed with Germans to assimilate blood-borne superiority, in time destroying the Arian through dilution; Jews cannot afford National Socialist success because it would wreck their centuries-old plan of infiltration and a hidden rise to power, to rule over the rubble they created. Judaism, Hitler writes, is the "enzyme of decomposition." It is ironic that the supposed Jewish plan to bring a country down and rule over its ruble is exactly what Hitler and his comrades did to Germany by 1945. Mein Kampf is worth the reading; I got a better idea of who Hitler actually was. While it's true assistants jotted down his dictation then re-worked it, you can still hear his "voice" in its paragraphs. He was not wrong in everything he complained about, by the way. He was certainly no coward but a genuine war hero. He was a dynamic speaker, adroit propagandist, a Machiavellian manipulator of subordinates, someone who correctly monitored the demeanor of crowds. He was at the same time an eccentric philosopher whose speculative, crackpot ideas were frightening. He was a bright man with strange ideas conceived while living in isolation. One day, low and behold, he actually ran the country and put his "insights" into practice. Within six years of gaining power his country began floundering. But, that's in later books.
There are many things wrong with this book. It appears that Michael Ford did not do a real translation at all, he merely rewrote a new paraphrase based on the earlier, faulty, editions, and self-published it through a print-on-demand scheme. Nothing wrong with that if his intention was to create a readable, rationalized edition with the Murphy and Manheim errors corrected. Alas Ford doesn't even write or proofread English very well, and makes a bad situation worse. He has some bizarre and novel 'translations' of phrases that do not require translation, for example the newspaper 'Volkischer Beobächter', which he turns into 'The Race Watcher.' If you must translate a title like that, something like 'People's Observer' or 'Populist Observer' or even 'Folkish Observer' might be acceptable, but there's no excuse for 'Race Watcher.' (Prof. Randall Bytwerk has written extensively on this and other translation problems, and you should Google that name if you wish to know more.)
What is annoying about the Audible edition is that the translator's footnotes and interlineations pop up frequently and annoyingly, often giving bad information. There should be some way of turning these off, as you turn off pop-ads in a web browser.