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This is a book both for beginners and for those who have already read a reasonable amount of WWII and Nazi history. As well as being a portrait of Hitler, it provides an overview of the main events of Germany history from WWI until May 1945. Laurence Rees' clever tactic of using Hitler's charisma as the central theme provides a different perspective from the usual biographical and war history works. In examining Hitler's rising popularity, Rees reveals much about the man and offers several inter-connected explanations for Hitler's ability to draw people in and to convert doubters to his point of view. He also devotes some time to people who did not fall under Hitler's spell and those who plotted to kill him. Rees goes on to document the decline of Hitler's power to influence as the direction of the war turns and Germany moves ever closer to defeat. The book is well written and Rees' central argument is well presented. Michael Jayston is a very competent narrator and his voice and presentation are perfect for the material.
What did you love best about The Dark Charisma of Adolf Hitler?
I was transfixed listening to this description of one of the most evil personalities in history. It was particularly interesting to have diary notes and personal observations of Hitler's closest staff describing his dark manipulation of millions, yet his inability to relate easily to smaller groups.
What was one of the most memorable moments of The Dark Charisma of Adolf Hitler?
The potted history of how Hitler rose from virtual obscurity at a time when the German people needed to restore hope and pride after WWI. How one major event in world history led to the next. He was a maniacal no body who had the ability to persuade millions, then murder millions. I found the comments by some of those who met him expressing their dismay and horror at the thought of Hitler making it to the top, very disturbing and prophetic.
What does Michael Jayston bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
The narration was superb. Michael Jayston brought it to life, as if he was actually there.
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
No. There is too much to absorb. I will probably listen to it again soon.
An excellent account of the dark personal history of the most infamous man in history. Gripping and very interesting account of how this truly awful man had the german people in his hand for so long despite the turn in the war, read very well by Michael Jayston. The only negative is the relentless hatred of the man can be hard to listen to sometimes, for he was a truly awful awful man. Fans of history should give this a listen, great stuff.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
I think Laurence Rees has enough material for a cracking essay on the nature and influence of Hitler's charisma, but not quite enough for a whole book. Instead Mr Rees gives a fairly complete account of the rise and fall of Hitler, with special attention to the influence of Hitler's personality and speeches. Rees makes quite a convincing case for the critical importance of Hitler - not just as a dictator operating via terror, but a persuasive politician and leader. Hitler's charisma was a function of the time and situation, and how well he read the mind of the mann on the Munich omnibus. It didn't work on everyone even then, and it could only work with an audience primed to respond. He fed (and fed on) a feeling of indignation and being disrespected, but actually promised very little (politically speaking). He created a feeling of unity among German peoples by conjuring up an enemy, few enough in number not to worry the majority. He was consistent and genuine in his obsessions. He was canny and cunning in bringing people along with him, step by step.
The narration is superb. Somehow Michael Jayston manages to impersonate the speakers without resorting to silly accents. William Shirer has an American lilt without it being an impersonation, and Hitler's quotes are not done with an German accent (which would be unforgivable in my book) but they come over with a certain intonation that seems Germanic none-the-less. Just how a non-fiction book should be read. The stopping places co-incide with the chapters, which is again how it should be (but often isn't).
2 of 2 people found this review helpful