Hitler's Private Library: The Books that Shaped His Life

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Alfred A. Knopf, 2008 - History - 278 pages
8 Reviews
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 embraceDonQuixote, 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 poemPeer Gynthelped 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 hisextensive 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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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - SESchend - LibraryThing

Interesting book looking at the books known to be in Hitler's libraries; not a hagiography or a psychological analysis but more a look at what the books added to Hitler's "dilettantish" self-education and what he gleaned from them (via looking at his marginalia or lack thereof). A good, quick read. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Shrike58 - LibraryThing

A consideration of Hitler's political thought by examining his surviving books, Ryback contrasts what Hitler liked to read (popular fiction, military history, occult & spiritualist works) with the ... Read full review

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About the author (2008)

\Timothy W. Ryback is the author of The Last Survivor: Legacies of Dachau, a New York Times Notable Book for 1999. He has written for The Atlantic Monthly, The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times. He is cofounder and codirector of the Institute for Historical Justice and Reconciliation and lives in Paris with his wife and three children.

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