cover image Hitler's Private Library: The Books That Shaped His Life

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

Timothy W. Ryback, . . Knopf, $25 (278pp) ISBN 978-1-4000-4204-3

Hitler's personal library of over 16,000 volumes was picked clean by American troops. But Ryback found 1,200 of Hitler's volumes in the Library of Congress and other caches scattered through the U.S. and Europe. By looking at the books Hitler read (sometimes obsessively, judging from marginalia and other signs of wear and tear), Ryback paints an unusually vivid and nuanced portrait of the dictator. Among the authors and works Hitler was most interested in were Shakespeare (in translation), whose grand historical subjects, Hitler felt, made him superior to Schiller and Goethe; Henry Ford's anti-Semitic The International Jew ; adventure novelist Karl May; Dietrich Eckart's interpretation of Ibsen's Peer Gynt ; works of the occult and esoterica; and Thomas Carlyle, particularly his biography of Frederick the Great. Ryback (The Last Survivor: Legacies of Dachau ) offers a unique view of Hitler's intellectual life. 47 photos. (Oct. 22)