Hitler's Scientists

  • by John Cornwell
  • Narrated by Simon Prebble
  • 6 hrs and 32 mins
  • Abridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

When Hitler came to power in the 1930s, Germany had led the world in science, mathematics, and technology for nearly four decades. But while the fact that Hitler swiftly pressed Germany's scientific prowess into the service of a brutal, racist, xenophobic ideology is well known, few realize that German scientists had knowingly broken international agreements and basic codes of morality to fashion deadly weapons even before World War I. In Hitler's Scientists, historian John Cornwell explores German scientific genius in the first half of the twentieth century and shows how Germany's early lead in the new physics led to the discovery of atomic fission, which led the way to the atom bomb, and how the ideas of Darwinism were hijacked to create the lethal doctrine of racial cleansing. By the war's end, almost every aspect of Germany's scientific culture had been tainted by the exploitation of slave labor, human experimentation, and mass killings. Ultimately, it was Hitler's profound scientific ignorance that caused the Fatherland to lose the race for atomic weapons, which Hitler would surely have used. Cornwell argues that German scientists should be held accountable for the uses to which their knowledge was put, an issue with wide-ranging implications for the continuing unregulated pursuit of scientific progress.


What the Critics Say

"Cornwell is a gifted writer with a fascinating story to tell, which he ably and engagingly accomplishes." (Publishers Weekly)
"Cornwell's narrative aspires to a philosophical focus, emphasizing the tacit evil of complicity and the seductive lie of so-called pure research....A polemic but a timely one appropriate for audiences beyond war and science buffs." (Booklist)


See More Like This

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Excellent due to great content and reader

Both the reader and the content of this audiobook are excellent. I know that I have made a wise purchase when I find myself listening to it over and over again. The details surrounding the development of the German atomic bomb are interesting, and the author examines the moral dilemma of both the German and American scientists in its development. The audiobook is by no means limited to the search for the atomic bomb, however. The development of radio, code-breaking, rocketry and many more are covered. This audiobook is entertaining from beginning to end, and contains many obscure details that will thrill a history or science enthusiast. The reader only adds to an already excellent audiobook.
Read full review

- Dave


I enjoyed this book a great deal, but it left me wanting more. I suppose that this is a characteristic of a good book... but it left a lot of unanswered questions. It seemed to skim over a lot of important aspects of the war, such as the Nazi "war on cancer" and even their race to build an A-bomb. Still, I recommend this book if only for the final chapter about science and social responsibility.
Read full review

- .

Book Details

  • Release Date: 12-19-2003
  • Publisher: Listen & Live Audio, Inc.