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Way too many German names and army divisions to remember. Unless you understand German, you can easily become overloaded. Additionally, the book lags greatly in the middle where the author feels compelled to tell you of every single foreign national to have joined the SS. The book however is not without its good points. It is very informative about the inner structure and politics of the RHSA and its evolution from a couple hundred members in 1933 to the vast organization it became. At the end of the book, the author purposely refused to mention the word "ODESSA" One can only guess as to its obvious exclusion.
The book is worth listening to despite its drawbacks. However, this is not one of those books you listen to more then once.
12 of 16 people found this review helpful
It took me a long time to get through this audiobook. You can think of the author as being a kind of amateur historian. His career is in the military, but he obviously has a passion for history. The author tells us that he was actually in the middle of writing the book when he was called up to be chief of staff of a force running a provisional government in Dakar for the British army.
The book is not badly written, but it is evident that Adrian Weale is more of a historian than an author. He's not quite the story teller that other authors are. This is what may make it difficult for some readers to get through this book. There's a lot of good information, and there definitely are some fascinating aspects.
The book is difficult to follow at times. It's as if the author is telling the play-by-play, but without stopping and lingering on certain plays. Weale runs through events chronologically and mixes in introduction segments for important figures along the way. This is well done, but at times the changes in the time line are confusing.
The narrator has an unusual voice and style for audiobooks. It's not that Don Hagen is difficult to understand or annoying, he's just a bit dry. To be frank, Hagen is a bit boring. It's not that his voice doesn't fit with the topic or with the author's writing style, but he's rather plain. And there's something about his style which also makes it difficult to speed listen.
In the preface, the author sets out that he wants to correct misconceptions about the SS. That introduction may end up being a bit disappointing for some listeners, as Adrian Weale tries to lower expectations right away. He says that this book is written for the general reader and not the academic. This is fine, but often times that means that the book is not going to go very deep. Weale says the book is not a comprehensive history of the SS. This is disappointing, as the subtitle of the book is "A History of the SS."
The history begins at the end of World War I. The author gives a recap of the way the German government changed and was reborn after the abdication of the Kiser. This history of German politics between the wars is one of the most interesting portions of the book.
Weale does a good job explaining the differences between various elements of the SS and the German regime. The Gestapo; the SS; the Brown Shirts: these different forces often seem to get mixed up together by people. While it is quite complicated, the listener will have a better understanding of these different elements.
As with any book that covers the holocaust, there are certain parts of this work that listeners will find difficult to hear. Weale does not spare us from some of the most horrifying details. This is necessary, however, in order to accurately describe the history of those events.
There is not a lot about Hitler in the book, but several of the key SS figures are covered in great detail.