Young Hitler: The Making of the Führer

Paul Ham. Pegasus, $27.95 (328p) ISBN 978-1-68177-747-4
In this serviceable but not comprehensive analysis, journalist and historian Ham argues that Adolf Hitler’s experiences in WWI “acted like a forge for his character, hammering his embittered mind into a vengeful political machine.” Ham describes Hitler’s WWI service as fundamentally different from that of the ordinary soldier: he was a message-runner. It was an elite job—involving periodic episodes of high risk and demanding great alertness and self-reliance, followed by ample time for self-contemplation and self-cultivation—that evaporated with the armistice. Ham presents a post-defeat Hitler devastated and drifting, turning to politics out of opportunism and desperation. In expressing his personal fury and frustration, Ham argues, Hitler found success replicating his wartime experience: calling on the qualities necessary to get a message through and bring back the reply. His situational awareness made him both a loudspeaker and an echo chamber for those Germans dislocated and brutalized by the Great War and its consequences, correspondingly susceptible to a rhetoric of hatred. This is a useful general-audience perspective on Hitler as more drummer than leader. Agent: Helen Edwards, Transworld Publishing. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/30/2018
Release date: 06/01/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 384 pages - 978-0-85752-483-6
Compact Disc - 978-1-9786-0068-3
MP3 CD - 978-1-9786-0069-0
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