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Some of the Americans in Weimar and then Hitler’s Germany were merely casual observers, others deliberately blind; a few were Nazi apologists. But most slowly began to understand the horror of what was unfolding, even when they found it difficult to grasp the breadth of the catastrophe. Among the journalists, William Shirer, Edgar Mowrer, and Dorothy Thompson were increasingly alarmed. Consul General George Messersmith stood out among the American diplomats because of his passion and courage. Truman Smith, the first American official to meet Hitler, was an astute political observer and a remarkably resourceful military attaché. Historian William Dodd, whom FDR tapped as ambassador in Hitler’s Berlin, left disillusioned; his daughter Martha scandalized the embassy with her procession of lovers from her initial infatuation with Nazis she took up with. She ended as a Soviet spy.
On the scene were George Kennan, who would become famous as the architect of containment; Richard Helms, who rose to the top of the CIA; Howard K. Smith, who would one day coanchor the ABC Evening News. The list of prominent visitors included writers Sinclair Lewis and Thomas Wolfe, famed aviator Charles Lindbergh, the great athlete Jesse Owens, newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst, and black sociologist and historian W.E.B. Dubois. Observing Hitler and his movement up close, the most perceptive of these Americans helped their reluctant countrymen begin to understand the nature of Nazi Germany as it ruthlessly eliminated political opponents, instilled hatred of Jews and anyone deemed a member of an inferior race, and readied its military and its people for a war for global domination. They helped prepare Americans for the years of struggle ahead.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Mike From Mesa on 04-06-12
Hitlerland is a collection of individual recollections and anecdotes about the period from 1930 through the start of US involvement in World War 2. While it is full of interesting information, and contains much that I never knew before about the period, it is worth mentioning that it is not a serious history of the period. Rather it centers on the observations of various observers, mostly reporters, about events during the period and how they reported the rise of the Nazis.
It is thoroughly enjoyable and I found myself reluctant to stop listening, but in the end left me feeling that there was not much real history in the book. If you would like an interesting "gossip" piece about the period, this is your book. If you are looking for something serious, you might want to look elsewhere.
I gave it 4 stars because I was expecting something "meatier" than this, but I would stress that it is very interesting and Robert Fass' reading is first class. I am not sure that the classification "light book" can be reasonably applied to anything written about this terrible period of history, but if it can, then this book is qualifies and is first class. I do not mean to suggest that this book treats the period lightly, but only that it is not a period history like Richard J Evans' The Third Reich In Power.
20 of 20 people found this review helpful
By None of your damn business on 06-28-12
A new perspective on the rise of the Third Reich
I am a fan of WWII history, but many books on the subject, particularly those that focus on the European theater, typically focus on the grand figures and political moments that lead to the "inevitable" outcome of the war.
This book is different. It tells the story of the inter-war Germany from the perspective of American ex-pats living there and witnessing the Nazi rise to power. You get to see the very flawed and human perspectives that shaped history as it happened.
I'd recommend the book to anyone with an interest in WWII and wants to understand what it was like to see the Nazi party take power.
8 of 9 people found this review helpful
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Lord Peridot on 09-29-14
Listen on ...
Fascinating insight into the terrible world of Nazi Germany, leavened with much in the way of personal experience and lucid description. Shirer's diaries are much quoted and if you want to learn more about this period, try his famous Berlin Diaries.