The fateful story of Adolf Hitler’s transformation from awkward, feckless loner to lethal, charismatic demagogue.
The story of the making of Adolf Hitler that we are all familiar with is the one Hitler himself wove in his 1924 trial, and then expanded upon in Mein Kampf. It tells of his rapid emergence as National Socialist leader in 1919, and of how he successfully rallied most of Munich and the majority of Bavaria’s establishment to support the famous beer-hall putsch of 1923. It is an account which has largely been taken at face value for over ninety years. Yet, on closer examination, Hitler’s account of his experiences in the years immediately following the First World War turns out to be every bit as unreliable as his account of his experiences as a soldier during the war itself.
In Becoming Hitler, Thomas Weber continues from where he left off in his previous book, Hitler’s First War, stripping away the layers of myth and fabrication in Hitler’s own tale to tell the real story of Hitler’s politicization and radicalization in post-First World War Munich. It is the gripping account of how an awkward and unemployed loner with virtually no recognizable leadership qualities and fluctuating political ideas turned into the charismatic, self-assured, virulently anti-Semitic leader with an all-or-nothing approach to politics with whom the world was soon to become tragically familiar. As Weber clearly shows, far from the picture of a fully-formed political leader which Hitler wanted to portray in Mein Kampf, his ideas and priorities were still very uncertain and largely undefined in early 1919 – and they continued to shift until 1923.
It was the failed Ludendorff putsch of November 1923 – and the subsequent Ludendorff trial – which was to prove the making of Hitler. And he was not slow to spot the opportunity that it offered. As the movers and shakers of Munich’s political scene tried to blame everything on him in the course of the trial, Hitler was presented with a golden opportunity to place himself at the centre of attention, turning what had been the ‘Ludendorff trial’ into the ‘Hitler trial’. Henceforth, he would no longer be merely a local Bavarian political leader. From now on, he would present himself as a potential ‘national saviour’. In the months after the trial, Hitler cemented this myth by writing Mein Kampf from his comfortable prison cell. His years of metamorphosis were now behind him. His years as Fuhrer were soon to come.
This book is hugely important: it is a genuine contribution to our understanding of one of history's ogres. * Roger Moorhouse, BBC History Magazine * A thoroughly researched book and a must for scholars of history, Hitler, National Socialism and the Twentieth Century. * Paul Donnelley, express.co.uk * [In Becoming Hitler], Weber helps us to better understand the circumstances that can lead to the radicalization of otherwise ordinary human beings. * Gavriel D. Rosenfeld, DAPIM: Studies on the Holocaust * Vital, revolutionary, groundbreaking... Weber forces us to rethink what we know about Hitler and charts his metamorphosis into a hated demagogue. * CG, All About History * Thomas Weber is one of the foremost world authorities on Hitler. He refuted the mantra that there was nothing more to say about the German dictator and no new sources to be found with his path-breaking study of Hitler's First War. In Becoming Hitler, he takes the story into the turbulent period after the end of the conflict and excelled himself. This new book shows that Hitler was by no means a product of his environment but swum against the Bavarian mainstream and was nearly drowned by it. The argument is once again supported by an array of fresh sources and conveyed in compelling prose. * Brendan Simms, author of Europe: The Struggle for Supremacy, 1453 to the Present * This is the most important book on Hitler and National Socialism since Ian Kershaw's monumental biography. It is amazing how much new information and documentation Thomas Weber has used to show precisely when, how, and why Hitler's world view was shaped, and precisely where the intellectual, emotional, and social origins of genocide and of the Holocaust lay. He has precisely recreated the world of Munich in the early 1920s, to show how a burning hostility to internationalism - we would say today globalism - emerged. * Harold James, Professor of History, Princeton University * The book is well written, and [...] the work is a welcome addition to the creation of a complete portrait of Hilter. * Paul Bookbinder, European History Quarterly * This study is revelatory ... It is highly recommended. * Duncan Bowie, Chartist * Brilliant. * Gavriel D. Rosenfield, Counterfactual History Review *
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