cover image Albert Speer: His Battle with Truth

Albert Speer: His Battle with Truth

Gitta Sereny. Alfred A. Knopf, $35 (757pp) ISBN 978-0-394-52915-8

Sereny, a London journalist, ``found a great deal to like'' in former Nazi Albert Speer, Hitler's architect and minister of armaments and war production, whom she interviewed extensively between 1978 and his death in 1981. This long, strained portrait too often reads like an apologia and too often takes Speer's calculated, self-serving evaluations at face value. Convicted at Nuremberg for his use of slave labor, Speer spent 20 years in Spandau prison and wrote two bestselling memoirs voicing his repentance. Sereny unconvincingly argues that by 1941, Speer knew Jews were being deported but had no idea they were going to their deaths, nor any idea of Hitler's plans to exterminate European Jewry. By late 1943, however, she believes, Speer was aware of the almost-completed genocide even though he continued to work for Hitler, for whom he had an ``unspoken love.'' Interviews with Speer's family and associates and with former Nazi officials, plus eight years of archival research, supplement this overblown account. Photos. 50,000 first printing; History Book Club main selection; BOMC alternate. (Sept.)