Biography & Memoir Hitler: A Short Biography by A.N. Wilson

Published on March 21st, 2012


Hitler: A Short Biography by A.N. Wilson

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Blurb: In 1923, aged thirty -four, Hitler was languishing in prison after leading an unsuccessful putsch to overthrow the German Government. Within a decade he was German Chancellor, one of the most powerful men in Europe. How did he do it? Had Hitler been a regular politician, A.N. Wilson argues, he would have vanished without trace after his prison experience. But he was not a regular politician, but rather a conjurer, seeing politics not as the Art of the Possible but as the Art of the Impossible. In this short biography of Adolf Hitler, Wilson offers a fresh interpretation of the life of the ‘ultimate demon-tyrant of history’. (HarperPress, 2012)

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Nick Cohen, The Observer

After histories that press down on the reader like mortuary slabs, it is a liberation … this good, short book might have been shorter and better if Wilson had resisted the temptation to add his “final verdict” in the concluding chapter. In “some strange way, national socialism was the natural consequence of the Enlightenment”, Wilson opines. “Hitler believed in a crude Darwinism as do nearly all scientists today.” In no way, “strange” or otherwise, was nazism a consequence of the Enlightenment … As for modern scientists, if Wilson does not know that none believes in racial hierarchy and most doubt that the concept of race has any validity, then someone ought to tell him.

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Richard J Evans, The New Statesman

It’s hard to think why a publishing house that once had a respected history list agreed to produce this travesty of a biography … Novelists (notably Mann) and literary scholars (such as J P Stern) have sometimes managed to use a novel angle of approach to say something new and provocative about Hitler, the Nazis and the German people. However, there is no evidence of that here, neither in the stale, unoriginal material, nor in the banal and cliché-ridden historical judgements, nor in the lame, tired narrative style; just evidence of the repellent arrogance of a man who thinks that because he’s a celebrated novelist, he can write a book about Hitler that people should read, even though he’s put very little work into writing it and even less thought.

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