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A brilliantly original exploration of some of the formative influences in Hitler’s life—the books he most revered, and how they shaped the man and his thinking. Hitler’s education and worldview were formed largely from the books in his private library. Recently, hundreds of those books were discovered in the Library of Congress by Timothy Ryback, complete with Hitler’s marg A brilliantly original exploration of some of the formative influences in Hitler’s life—the books he most revered, and how they shaped the man and his thinking. Hitler’s education and worldview were formed largely from the books in his private library. Recently, hundreds of those books were discovered in the Library of Congress by Timothy Ryback, complete with Hitler’s marginalia on their pages—underlines, question marks, exclamation points, scrawled comments. Ryback traces the path of the key phrases and ideas that Hitler incorporated into his writing, speeches, conversations, self-definition, and actions. We watch him embrace Don Quixote, Robinson Crusoe, and the works of Shakespeare. We see how an obscure treatise inspired his political career and a particular interpretation of Ibsen’s epic poem Peer Gynt helped mold his ruthless ambition. He admires Henry Ford’s anti-Semitic tract, The International Jew, and declares it required reading for fellow party members. We learn how his extensive readings on religion and the occult provide the blueprint for his notion of divine providence, how the words of Nietzsche and Schopenhauer are reborn as infamous Nazi catchphrases, and, finally, how a biography of Frederick the Great fired the destructive fanaticism that compelled Hitler to continue fighting World War II when all hope of victory was lost. Hitler’s Private Library, a landmark in the study of the Third Reich, offers a remarkable view into Hitler’s intellectual world and personal evolution. It demonstrates the ability of books to preserve in vivid ways the lives of their collectors, underscoring the importance of the tactile in the era of the digital.


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A brilliantly original exploration of some of the formative influences in Hitler’s life—the books he most revered, and how they shaped the man and his thinking. Hitler’s education and worldview were formed largely from the books in his private library. Recently, hundreds of those books were discovered in the Library of Congress by Timothy Ryback, complete with Hitler’s marg A brilliantly original exploration of some of the formative influences in Hitler’s life—the books he most revered, and how they shaped the man and his thinking. Hitler’s education and worldview were formed largely from the books in his private library. Recently, hundreds of those books were discovered in the Library of Congress by Timothy Ryback, complete with Hitler’s marginalia on their pages—underlines, question marks, exclamation points, scrawled comments. Ryback traces the path of the key phrases and ideas that Hitler incorporated into his writing, speeches, conversations, self-definition, and actions. We watch him embrace Don Quixote, Robinson Crusoe, and the works of Shakespeare. We see how an obscure treatise inspired his political career and a particular interpretation of Ibsen’s epic poem Peer Gynt helped mold his ruthless ambition. He admires Henry Ford’s anti-Semitic tract, The International Jew, and declares it required reading for fellow party members. We learn how his extensive readings on religion and the occult provide the blueprint for his notion of divine providence, how the words of Nietzsche and Schopenhauer are reborn as infamous Nazi catchphrases, and, finally, how a biography of Frederick the Great fired the destructive fanaticism that compelled Hitler to continue fighting World War II when all hope of victory was lost. Hitler’s Private Library, a landmark in the study of the Third Reich, offers a remarkable view into Hitler’s intellectual world and personal evolution. It demonstrates the ability of books to preserve in vivid ways the lives of their collectors, underscoring the importance of the tactile in the era of the digital.

30 review for Hitler's Private Library: The Books That Shaped His Life

  1. 5 out of 5

    Dimitri

    Hitler was a terrible person, but there's a lot I identify with him as a reader. The nightly marathons. The need to read daily. The accumulation keeping pace with the disposable income. The TBR mountain. The pencil-studded dialogue with the opinions on page. The autodidact itch scratched by encyclopedias. The "If I have money, I buy books. If I have a little money left, I buy food" mentality worded by Erasmus. To have multiple non-partisan observers verdict his used collection as "a comprehensive Hitler was a terrible person, but there's a lot I identify with him as a reader. The nightly marathons. The need to read daily. The accumulation keeping pace with the disposable income. The TBR mountain. The pencil-studded dialogue with the opinions on page. The autodidact itch scratched by encyclopedias. The "If I have money, I buy books. If I have a little money left, I buy food" mentality worded by Erasmus. To have multiple non-partisan observers verdict his used collection as "a comprehensive military history library" is of course an aspiration for a WW buff. I'm up to serveral "you have more books than anyone I know" comments. My copy has 20 spine cracks for 200 pages, dog-ears, coffee & bolognaise stains, travel wear ... It has annotations for 30+ books that I feel I should read myself, such as Carlyle's biography of Frederick the Great or Der Untergang des Abendlandes * Also, it was a gift from my father. In short, with a R. Lee Ermey chorus, "there are many like it, but this one is mine". Is Timothy Snyder being too self-centered ? If trench dust or a moustache hair fall from between the pages while you are browsing books which librarians have kept in storage for decades, you are allowed to call that "a discovery". Does he do anything wrong ? Yes, his methodology runs on peacetime signs of use, so he runs out of identifiable material when the war breaks out. What did Hitler read between 1940 & 1945 ? *2016's deluxe translation.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Mariam

    You could judge a collector by his collection! Hitler was a man better known for burning books than collecting them and yet by the time he died, he owned an estimated 16,000 volumes - Ironic eh?! [He read voraciously]. Walter Banjamin once said that you could tell a lot about a man by the books he keeps - his tastes, his interests, his habits. The books we retain and those we discard, those we read as well as those we decode not to, all say something about who we are. Quoting Hegel, Benjamin note You could judge a collector by his collection! Hitler was a man better known for burning books than collecting them and yet by the time he died, he owned an estimated 16,000 volumes - Ironic eh?! [He read voraciously]. Walter Banjamin once said that you could tell a lot about a man by the books he keeps - his tastes, his interests, his habits. The books we retain and those we discard, those we read as well as those we decode not to, all say something about who we are. Quoting Hegel, Benjamin noted, "Only when it is dark does the owl of Minerva begin its flight," and concluded, "Only in extinction is the collector comprehended." Benjamin proposed that a private library serves as a permanent and credible witness to the character of its collector, leading him to the following philosophic conceit: we collect books in the belief that we are preserving them when in fact it is the books that preserve their collector. "Not that they come alive in him," Benjamin posited. "It is he who lives in them.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Esteban del Mal

    What can a person's library tell you about him or her? After reading this book, I still don't know; but this is an interesting examination of one of history's most infamous bibliophiles. (And sometimes downright creepy -- at one point, the author was examining a book from Hitler's library and discovered "tucked in the crease...a wiry inch-long black hair that appears to be from a moustache.") Although only a small portion of Hitler's library survives, the relatively few remaining texts do allow fo What can a person's library tell you about him or her? After reading this book, I still don't know; but this is an interesting examination of one of history's most infamous bibliophiles. (And sometimes downright creepy -- at one point, the author was examining a book from Hitler's library and discovered "tucked in the crease...a wiry inch-long black hair that appears to be from a moustache.") Although only a small portion of Hitler's library survives, the relatively few remaining texts do allow for a snapshot, no matter however underdeveloped, of his interests. Predictably, books on pseudo-science, specifically focusing on race, shaped Hitler's early life. He had every German translation of Henry Ford's books on anti-Semitism, and was quoted as saying, "I regard Ford as my inspiration." Later, he superficially read Kant, Nietzsche and Schopenhauer (often taking them out of context, gleaning from their writings what he found “useful”) and mixed their works with contemporary crackpot mysticism in an effort to fashion National Socialism into a sort of quasi-state religion to counter materialism (the philosophical foundation of Communism). Think of the psychology behind those night rallies with big torches and all the pomp, the Führer elevated and framed by the Parteiadler for effect. Just prior to, and during, WWII, Hitler -- already predisposed to weave the most disparate views into a perverse mosaic -- was surrounded by handlers who filtered the texts he would read to fit his already paranoid and rationalized worldview. Hence, books from sycophants and hangers-on of every stripe informed his "thinking." As the Soviets surrounded Berlin, Hitler apparently felt a kinship with Bismarck (whose biography he had read and re-read) and would draw parallels between their lives to the point that he would seize upon the most strained minutiae as proof of his theory (for instance, seeing the death of FDR as a harbinger of a long-sought fracture in the American-English-Soviet alliance akin to the death of tsarina Elizabeth and the resulting fissure of the alliance between Austria, France and Russia against Germany in 1861). Then Hitler killed himself and his corpse was burned beyond recognition. Page 68 has a typo, printing "the" twice in sequence. Memorable Hitler quotes from the book: "A leader can make mistakes, no question about that. But following a bad decision will achieve the final goal better than personal freedom." "The victor will not be asked afterwards whether he told the truth or not." "We are fighting in the far reaches to protect our homeland so that we can keep the war far away in order to spare us the fate we would suffer if it were closer."

  4. 5 out of 5

    Vijai

    Whenever I meet someone for the first time, that one thing I wonder is 'What books does this person read? what has he/ she already read? Would they have read, what I have read? What will be their opinion on these books?' Weird, I know but I am pretty sure a few of my fellow bibliophiles will attest to having done the same as well. Anyway, I had picked this up with the curiosity of knowing what did the man hated by millions read? What did he own? and I assure you that the author has done a fine jo Whenever I meet someone for the first time, that one thing I wonder is 'What books does this person read? what has he/ she already read? Would they have read, what I have read? What will be their opinion on these books?' Weird, I know but I am pretty sure a few of my fellow bibliophiles will attest to having done the same as well. Anyway, I had picked this up with the curiosity of knowing what did the man hated by millions read? What did he own? and I assure you that the author has done a fine job of presenting those facts with efforts one can feel are very sincere. I gave this a four star for the dry narrative. It was just simply difficult to read this book in one stretch. Had it not been for my overwhelming curiosity on the matter, I may have never come to like this book. Definitely worth a read.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Bill FromPA

    Though non-fiction, this book takes the form of a novel-in-stories. Each chapter tells a discrete story about Hitler, centered on one or more of the volumes from his library. Ryback has chosen books for which there is some evidence showing that Hitler actually read it, at least in part. Taken together, the stories form an episodic biography, but one which concentrates on events that are not those usually emphasized in the life of the dictator. For example, one chapter deals with Hitler’s relatio Though non-fiction, this book takes the form of a novel-in-stories. Each chapter tells a discrete story about Hitler, centered on one or more of the volumes from his library. Ryback has chosen books for which there is some evidence showing that Hitler actually read it, at least in part. Taken together, the stories form an episodic biography, but one which concentrates on events that are not those usually emphasized in the life of the dictator. For example, one chapter deals with Hitler’s relationship with an early mentor / financer Dietrich Eckart (who presented the then-obscure politician with a copy of Peer Gynt). Another tells of a struggle for influence between National Socialists and the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, a form of détente somewhat favorable to the latter being presented in the book, Foundations of National Socialism by Bishop Alois Hudal, a partially read copy of which was found among Hitler’s books, but which was never allowed to be sold under the Third Reich. A chapter on various mystical works Hitler seems to have read is rather tough going for its attempted explication of what Ryback admits is "a dime-store theory cobbled together from cheap, tendentious paperbacks and esoteric hardcovers". Perhaps because of its bookish emphasis, actual violence seldom intrudes into the narrative. The Night of Long Knives in mentioned in passing, and there is no allusion at all to the 1944 bomb plot which almost succeeded in assassinating Hitler. Although the preface is entitled “The Man Who Burned Books”, there is very little mention of the suppression of literature or authors under the Nazis. This gives the story that emerges a tendency to dwell in the arena of ideas and verbal argument rather than the all too brutal reality that the book’s subject brought about. Ryback writes authoritatively on the Nazi era and the years leading up to it, and seems to have delved deeply into the particular subject of this book. He cross-checks the volumes for underlining of similar ideas to get some sense of the thoughts of the reader behind the markings, as well as a kind of self-check verifying that the marks actually come from the hand of Hitler. He occasionally evokes the physical presence of the books themselves: the dedications, amount of wear, how far and in what manner the pages have been cut. In one volume, an acquisition dating from WWI, he notes mud-flecks, dirty fingerprints, and, eerily, a short black hair pressed between the pages.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Relstuart

    Hitler to most of us is an (evil) enigma. How could he do what he did and be so successful? What kind of person was he? One way to tell who someone really is, is by looking at the people they chose to have around them, another is by looking at the books they chose to have around them. This book focuses on what we can know was in Hitler's library and what part of that we can know he read. Hitler was a reader. His usual evening reportedly included reading as he went to bed. Like many serious reade Hitler to most of us is an (evil) enigma. How could he do what he did and be so successful? What kind of person was he? One way to tell who someone really is, is by looking at the people they chose to have around them, another is by looking at the books they chose to have around them. This book focuses on what we can know was in Hitler's library and what part of that we can know he read. Hitler was a reader. His usual evening reportedly included reading as he went to bed. Like many serious readers he left notes in his books, underlining, and sometimes question marks or exclamation marks. And, some of the books in his library appear to not have been read. Interestingly, we even have some records of the books he checked out from the library as a poorer young man. In his library he had some 7,000 books on military matters or people. He had about 1,500 on artistic subjects like architecture, theater, painting, and sculpture. Another section contained books on astrology and spiritualism from all over the world. His library also included about 200 photographs of the constellations on important days in Hitler's life with personal notations from Hitler, each preserved in it's own envelope. He had another 1,000 books on diet and nutrition that helped support his vegetarian diet and ideal. There are some 400 books on the church, mainly focused on the catholic church. His library also included 800 to a 1,000 titles of popular fiction which included a large number of detective stories, adventure stories, and love romances. Sociological works are strongly represented in Hitler's library. It is not unusual for them to reflect anti-Semitic views. "Among the books in Hitler's library is one volume covering a field which he has always shown particular interest: namely the study of hands, including those of many famous people throughout the ages as they could be procured. Hitler, in fact, bases a good deal of judgement of people on their hands. In his first conversation with some personality, whether political or military, German or foreign, he usually most carefully observes the hands - their form, whether they are well cared for, whether they are long and narrow or stumpy and broad, the shape of the nails, the knuckle and the joint formation and so on. Various generals and diplomats have wondered why Hitler sometimes after starting a conversation in a cordial and friendly way, became cool as he went along, and then often closed the discourse curtly or abruptly without much progress being made. They learned only later that Hitler had not been pleased by the shape of their hands."

  7. 4 out of 5

    Morgan

    I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in WWII or bibliophilia. It is a very interesting look at some of the books Hitler read and how he selectively used the information therein to bolster his preexisting world view.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Barbara Roma

    Nothing new about his history, however you'll discover more about his tastes and this make you sure that he was intelligent, but not that smart. He was so passion about books, although learnt so few with them, prefering memorize dates and numbers of wars. Very interesting point of view about him. Nothing new about his history, however you'll discover more about his tastes and this make you sure that he was intelligent, but not that smart. He was so passion about books, although learnt so few with them, prefering memorize dates and numbers of wars. Very interesting point of view about him.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    It was slow to start, but a fascinating and unique perspective of Hitler. Ryback's analysis actually stems from the exact pages Hitler underlines! It was slow to start, but a fascinating and unique perspective of Hitler. Ryback's analysis actually stems from the exact pages Hitler underlines!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Shellie (Layers of Thought)

    This book looks really scary!

  11. 5 out of 5

    S.

    1. one reads on goodreads because one is a voracious reader 2. one then reads book reviews because one is a voracious reader 3. books reviews get written for voracious readers. I think that's the cycle, the heart of this website. and that is totally unrelated, a digression, to this work. and here's another digression: I was along Bubbling Well road in the French Concession of Shanghai when I came across a Chinese bookstore of English-language books. many are encased in plastic wrap. I bought this bo 1. one reads on goodreads because one is a voracious reader 2. one then reads book reviews because one is a voracious reader 3. books reviews get written for voracious readers. I think that's the cycle, the heart of this website. and that is totally unrelated, a digression, to this work. and here's another digression: I was along Bubbling Well road in the French Concession of Shanghai when I came across a Chinese bookstore of English-language books. many are encased in plastic wrap. I bought this book for 20 RMB (renminbi = people's currency, or about 3 US). unwrapping the plastic, I then discovered the pages inside were slightly out of focus and the paper a little thinner than western normal, almost sure tipoffs that is a copyvio. what is morally obligatory? well... issues involved: the author/publisher almost certainly get no royalties. however, Chinese copyright law is pretty strange; it's more about suppressing undesirable books than protecting authors. actually technically the bookstore/vio aren't necessarily illegal under communist chinese law, only perhaps immoral under widely recognized moral principles.... and it's 2013, decades now when most music is downloaded (again without royalty), off the internet. hmm, tough questions. but if I destroy this book after reading it, I haven't necessarily damaged the author/publisher vis-a-vis borrowing a western copy from a western library? or if I give a review here on goodreads, i'm at least promoting the book to some small degree, and arguably the author is better off with one chinese pirate edition read and reviewed than one western edition and never reviewed? or, these are all paper-thin justifications? Ryback, I suppose, has a write to be ticked off, as GR.com is showing only a 150+ ratings. in other words, his academic work has not brought in heaps of cash, but already some clever Wuzhou pirates have ripped his work. possibly it's bringing them more profit than his work. well, the argument might be made that I should immediately destroy the book, but how about my $3? and since I speak no chinese, there's no recourse from the bookstore or the city government. it's a complete conundrum. and so , also, is this book. the work is about Hitler's fascination with reading, his library tinged with mystical volumes (although in one section, he doesn't read the section that apparently predicts him), anecdotes about the Fuehrer. the skies turned blood red right before the invasion of poland-- and this is confirmed here in writing as well as in video documentaries. hitler's thinking derived from racialist thinkers. he had certain artistic pretensions.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    very intriguing analysis of HItler from another view. Really found Hitler's suicide and mental process connection to Peer Gynt very interesting. It really helps explain how Hitler thought about death and why he felt no remorse. Very scary, also. very intriguing analysis of HItler from another view. Really found Hitler's suicide and mental process connection to Peer Gynt very interesting. It really helps explain how Hitler thought about death and why he felt no remorse. Very scary, also.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lanko

    Some parts were surprising, others not so much, very few stuff we already didn't know even without reading anything about Hitler. I was expecting more polemic books and quotes, or more important, considering the title, Hitler's annotations and opinions on some of those books. Some parts were surprising, others not so much, very few stuff we already didn't know even without reading anything about Hitler. I was expecting more polemic books and quotes, or more important, considering the title, Hitler's annotations and opinions on some of those books.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Luckey

    I think that it was interesting to learn that hitler actually was interested in books and owned them, compared to when I read the booktheif when the nazi's burnt books, overall just an interesting book to read. I think that it was interesting to learn that hitler actually was interested in books and owned them, compared to when I read the booktheif when the nazi's burnt books, overall just an interesting book to read.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mel

    This book was not what I thought and I think the title is a little deceptive. The author writes more about the history of Nazi Socialism (fascism), and includes a few of Hitler's books that were given to him as gifts. Hitler seemed to have studied and memorized some of his books. However, in the appendices, the author writes the locations of Hitler's private libraries, but that no surviving catalogue of said books exists. On page 258 the author claims Hitler never uses a fountain pen but an old- This book was not what I thought and I think the title is a little deceptive. The author writes more about the history of Nazi Socialism (fascism), and includes a few of Hitler's books that were given to him as gifts. Hitler seemed to have studied and memorized some of his books. However, in the appendices, the author writes the locations of Hitler's private libraries, but that no surviving catalogue of said books exists. On page 258 the author claims Hitler never uses a fountain pen but an old-fashioned pen or an indelible pencil. (What's an old-fashioned pen if not a fountain pen? Ballpoint pens didn't hit the market until 1946, though technically invented before that. Was it a dip pen? A quill? Man, (author) don't leave out the details! Based on the information in the book, Hitler was easily, or could have been, swayed. My biggest complaint about this book is the author claiming Nazi Socialism (fascism) is right wing. Hitler supposedly was interested in a eugenics program(s), but there might be some confusion in eugenics vs. genocide. If Hitler truly wanted to improve eugenics, he should have asked the help of the Jewish people, instead he had them murdered. The author also seems to use Christian and Catholicism interchangeably, which is also an issue. Quotes are used from other books, but a footnote by one book quoted multiple times said, "Leni Riefenstahl was a norotously unreliable narrator." Why include quotes, from someone else's book, from an unreliable source? How can I trust anything the author wrote if he can't get the little/big details accurate? Two quotes are at the beginning of the book, in between the copyright page and the table of contents, one is Hitler's - I know people who "read" enormously, book for book, letter for letter, yet whom I would not describe as "well-read." True, they possess a mass of "knowledge," but their brain is unable to organize and register the material they have taken in. They lack the art of sifting what is valuable for them in a book from that which is without value, of retaining the one forever, and, if possible, not even seeing the rest. - Mein Kampf Sift through this book if it interests you. Take the information with a grain, (or a silo), of salt and research the details. I wouldn't recommend this book though.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Monica

    I would have never picked up this book if it wasn't staring at me intriguingly from the library shelf. A strange premise and definitely an uncomfortable book cover to carry with you on public transport, especially since the front sleeve shows a full portrait of Hitler in front of his bookshelves in his office in Munich. So, what have I learnt from this, or hope to learn from it? And why does it matter. Well Hitler had an extensive book collection and also liked to read. A lot. Doesn't fill the a I would have never picked up this book if it wasn't staring at me intriguingly from the library shelf. A strange premise and definitely an uncomfortable book cover to carry with you on public transport, especially since the front sleeve shows a full portrait of Hitler in front of his bookshelves in his office in Munich. So, what have I learnt from this, or hope to learn from it? And why does it matter. Well Hitler had an extensive book collection and also liked to read. A lot. Doesn't fill the avid reader with any sense of satisfaction does it. His library was of course filled with self-fulfilling abhorrent anti-Semitic literature and propagandist German history focusing on German 'heros', Frederick the Great, and other strong willed despots. On the other hand, you also find out that Hiter loved Karl May's Winnetou and other more innocuous or great writings, again so what? The thing that I didn't know was the extent of the vile anti-Semitic views and writings by Henry Ford and his influence on Hitler among the more or less usual foul suspects: Wagner, Schopenhauer etc. The author wants us to remain with the view, that despite his abundant and at times surprising collection, Hitler remained the dilettante that he always was, the corporal that was trying to cover for the big gaps in his military experience and erudition, and with the feeling that he knew, despite whatever he tried or how he tried to cover, he would ultimately be uncovered and undone.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kyle Thompson

    This book was OK. It definitely wasn't as insightful as I thought or hoped it would be. The author begins each chapter with the title of a specific book that Hitler had read and then would discuss what the book was about, how and why Hitler got it, and why it pertained to Hitler's interests. The author also tries to detail the intellectual influence the specific books had on Hitler. I thought the author had a clunky prose/writing style, and that he was all over the place describing the books Hitl This book was OK. It definitely wasn't as insightful as I thought or hoped it would be. The author begins each chapter with the title of a specific book that Hitler had read and then would discuss what the book was about, how and why Hitler got it, and why it pertained to Hitler's interests. The author also tries to detail the intellectual influence the specific books had on Hitler. I thought the author had a clunky prose/writing style, and that he was all over the place describing the books Hitler read. He would start a chapter about a specific book and then seemingly go off on a few different tangents of other books Hitler got; so this made the reading somewhat confusing I think. All in all it was OK, as I said in the beginning of the review. It's kind of a niche type of book, it isn't a "must read" for people only generally interested in Hitler, but it might be useful and of interest to people who are very interested in Hitler and his thinking and intricacies.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Serafima

    An excellent read for anyone looking for more in-depth information on Hitler's life. Everything is explained thoroughly and won't leave even a little less-informed reader confused. Overall, I feel like I really benefited from reading this book, especially understanding Hitler more as a person. My only gripe with this book, although very minor and one that may affect only me, is its pacing. The book is basically structured into a small amount of rather lengthy chapters. Personally, I tend to lean An excellent read for anyone looking for more in-depth information on Hitler's life. Everything is explained thoroughly and won't leave even a little less-informed reader confused. Overall, I feel like I really benefited from reading this book, especially understanding Hitler more as a person. My only gripe with this book, although very minor and one that may affect only me, is its pacing. The book is basically structured into a small amount of rather lengthy chapters. Personally, I tend to lean more towards books with chapters that are short and focused. While it may not bother some people, for me it was worth mentioning. But I wouldn't want anyone to put off reading this book just because of my pacing gripes! I highly, highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the more private side Hitler's life (even with the sluggish pacing, this book is worth the read) and I'm sure that you'll get just as much information and enjoyment from this book as I did.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Maryellen

    Ryback takes Walter Benjamin's quote about "you can tell alot by a man by the books he reads" and systematically goes through Hitler's library examining their influence on his political and military views and self perception. Along the way you see how Hitler perverted texts and was drawn to psuedo-science. I found it very informative and creepy. It's well-written with appendexes that include other opinions of the contents of his library. Ryback takes Walter Benjamin's quote about "you can tell alot by a man by the books he reads" and systematically goes through Hitler's library examining their influence on his political and military views and self perception. Along the way you see how Hitler perverted texts and was drawn to psuedo-science. I found it very informative and creepy. It's well-written with appendexes that include other opinions of the contents of his library.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Peter

    A truly fascinating examination of what we can know about Hitler's Private Library and how he was influenced by what books. Ryback is an articulate historian with a keen eye for the contradiction as well as the coincidental. A true pleasure to read as well as a thought provoking examination of the role of books in the evolution of an individual's thought. A truly fascinating examination of what we can know about Hitler's Private Library and how he was influenced by what books. Ryback is an articulate historian with a keen eye for the contradiction as well as the coincidental. A true pleasure to read as well as a thought provoking examination of the role of books in the evolution of an individual's thought.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Alison Welch

    This book really combined my two current obsessions - Hitler and books. It's weird to think that he was so influenced by the books around him, like most of us were. For a man who did such horrible things and that there were books with that information in them that influenced him is quite scary. I can't imagine him sitting there reading Shakespeare - it doesn't seem right. This book really combined my two current obsessions - Hitler and books. It's weird to think that he was so influenced by the books around him, like most of us were. For a man who did such horrible things and that there were books with that information in them that influenced him is quite scary. I can't imagine him sitting there reading Shakespeare - it doesn't seem right.

  22. 4 out of 5

    John

    Interesting insight into Hitler, Nazism and how the Nazi Party was formed. The way that the book has been written certainly made me think differently about books and the effect they can have on the reader. I wouldn't mind reading this again at some point although some parts of it were difficult to follow. Interesting insight into Hitler, Nazism and how the Nazi Party was formed. The way that the book has been written certainly made me think differently about books and the effect they can have on the reader. I wouldn't mind reading this again at some point although some parts of it were difficult to follow.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Isidore

    There is a great deal of interesting material in this book which is new to me: Hitler's early confrontation with an academic political competitor; his mentorship by an older writer; his unpublished books; his inclination to pantheism; the vital part played by American writers in forming his racism, and more. Definitely worth a look for anyone curious about the mysteries of Hitler's inner life. There is a great deal of interesting material in this book which is new to me: Hitler's early confrontation with an academic political competitor; his mentorship by an older writer; his unpublished books; his inclination to pantheism; the vital part played by American writers in forming his racism, and more. Definitely worth a look for anyone curious about the mysteries of Hitler's inner life.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Stefan

    A real kind of biography, or rather shall I say biblio-biography. I can only give it 4 stars because it cannot possibly contain all the books that shaped Hitler's life. But it does provide a history which I haven't heard of and an opinion all throughout, educated in my opinion. - Lost one star because of opinion & lack of list of books in alphabetical order. A real kind of biography, or rather shall I say biblio-biography. I can only give it 4 stars because it cannot possibly contain all the books that shaped Hitler's life. But it does provide a history which I haven't heard of and an opinion all throughout, educated in my opinion. - Lost one star because of opinion & lack of list of books in alphabetical order.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Vince

    Wow!! A top notch book. After the war the Allies were able to cart up many of Hitler's possessions and take them away. The author has tracked down chunks of his library and uses them to get a read on what made Hitler tick. Well read books, annotated books etc. all add to this jigsaw puzzle. Wow!! A top notch book. After the war the Allies were able to cart up many of Hitler's possessions and take them away. The author has tracked down chunks of his library and uses them to get a read on what made Hitler tick. Well read books, annotated books etc. all add to this jigsaw puzzle.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly

    This inspires a disturbing tenderness for the man. If you are to argue that his dilettantish reading, his weird recall, his childlike faith in the occult, and his insecurity about an incomplete education and average parents made Hitler who he was, then I could be Hitler.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Edward Sullivan

    Interesting reading biography of one of history's most evil and infamous figures. Interesting reading biography of one of history's most evil and infamous figures.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Natalie

    This book is incredibly unique, a really interesting look at Hitler from a completely different perspective than one's used to. This book is incredibly unique, a really interesting look at Hitler from a completely different perspective than one's used to.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    Wow, Hitler had an awesome book collection.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Alice Vaum

    I recommend this book to the one's curious about Hitlers life and his books taste. He had a great style of reading books and a great memory too, too bad he was insane and i think naive too :D I recommend this book to the one's curious about Hitlers life and his books taste. He had a great style of reading books and a great memory too, too bad he was insane and i think naive too :D

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