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  • Hitler

  • Ascent 1889-1939
  • By: Volker Ullrich
  • Narrated by: Don Hagen
  • Length: 34 hrs and 46 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (59 ratings)

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Summary

A major new biography - an extraordinary, penetrating study of the man who has become the personification of evil.

For all the literature about Adolf Hitler, there have been just four seminal biographies; this is the fifth, a landmark work that sheds important new light on Hitler himself. Drawing on previously unseen papers and a wealth of recent scholarly research, Volker Ullrich reveals the man behind the public persona, from Hitler's childhood, to his failures as a young man in Vienna, to his experiences during the First World War, to his rise as a far-right party leader. Ullrich deftly captures Hitler's intelligence, instinctive grasp of politics, and gift for oratory as well as his megalomania, deep insecurity, and repulsive worldview.

Many previous biographies have focused on the larger social conditions that explain the rise of the Third Reich. Ullrich gives us a comprehensive portrait of a postwar Germany humiliated by defeat, wracked by political crisis, and starved by an economic depression - but his real gift is to show vividly how Hitler used his ruthlessness and political talent to shape the Nazi party and lead it to power. For decades the world has tried to grasp how Hitler was possible. By focusing on the man at the center of it all, on how he experienced his world, formed his political beliefs, and wielded power, this riveting biography brings us closer than ever to the answer.

Translated from the German by Jefferson Chase.

©2016 Volker Ullrich (P)2016 Gildan Media LLC

Critic reviews

"Ullrich reveals Hitler to have been an eminently practical politician - and frighteningly so. Timely...One of the best works on Hitler and the origins of the Third Reich to appear in recent years." ( Kirkus Reviews)
"An outstanding study...All the huge, and terrible moments of the early Nazi era are dissected...but the real strength of this book is in disentangling the personal story of man and monster." ( The Guardian [U.K.])

What listeners say about Hitler

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  • Overall
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    3 out of 5 stars

Clearly well researched but bit dull and poor narration

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

Probably not as there are so many much better ones

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

Forensic detail but got wearing - hard to listen to

Who might you have cast as narrator instead of Don Hagen?

Any of the big ones. Tried to enjoy the narration and it did get a bit better but not good. Dull.

Do you think Hitler needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

Yes story only half told but get a new narrator please

1 person found this helpful

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Good book., well read.

A conventional account of Hitler's rise, we'll read but with some strange translation quirks.





1 person found this helpful

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Expertly narrated

A clever book as it chapters Hitlers life before WW2. Each chapter is on a different topic so none of the usual going round the houses, it just focuses on the relevance of it.
A refreshing approach and the narration was perfect.

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Excellent

An important, fascinating and detailed account centred around the personalities involved.
Also, I can't praise the narrator too highly. His quiet, even, beautifully enunciated delivery is a perfect counterpoint to the savage events he is describing

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Very good

I'll have to listen to some parts of it again because I had it on in the background doing other things. I learned a lot of new things from this book and the narration was excellent. It makes me want to find out more about the other characters mentioned (Goebbels, Papen, etc)

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Informative listen

Found the content very interesting with quite a few things I was unaware of.

However the narration is a little laboured and took some getting used to.

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  • Joshua
  • 03-11-16

Worthwhile if you haven't read a Hitler biography

I've read every major historical biography of Hitler in my studies, so I picked this up on audible for ease. Honestly, it's ok. I would certainly say it's a good start off point, at least as good as Kershaw's and with some updated information. Ullrich also concentrates a lot more on Hitler the man and has a fairly differing POV with a lot of previous scholarship on questions about Hitler's personality. I certainly cannot complain about the research and writing, it's all good. Honestly though, I preferred reading it myself later. The narration isn't great.

21 people found this helpful

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  • oc_artist
  • 22-10-16

Read, don't listen

First: narrator would put anyone to sleep. Very sing-song voice lacking any variability even in passages that are dramatic and/or horrifying. I ended up reading the book in hardcover-- which also has the advantage of giving you very detailed references and footnotes.
This is an invaluable addition to the many books about Hitler. The author had the advantage of more time having passed and more primary source material being available since previous biographies. Despite being long, the book is well-written and really holds the reader's interest. As you know if you've read reviews elsewhere, the author doesn't approach Hitler as a monster but as a skilled man who had absolutely no conscience and who perfected the dubious talent of manipulating people according to their greatest vulnerabilities. The truth was anything that advanced his power. Very timely in our country where so many are re-examining our form of government and what the citizen's role is in preserving our democracy.

21 people found this helpful

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  • Michael Fitzgerald
  • 17-07-17

Nothing New

It was just okay. The language is the same used by all writers on this period (i.e. fait accompli seems to have no synonym and Goebbels never writes in his diary, he always "confides" to it, etc).
There is one thing I never encountered until reading this book, and that is Private Hitler instead of Corporal Hitler. Perhaps it is an error in the translation?
The reader is just awful! His monotone, soporific drone might be more tolerable if he didn't mispronounce every German word and name. It got to be hilarious after a while. "Ribbontrope" and "chancellry" we're my favorites.
It is a typical biography from the strict conformist school of history.
Toland's biography remains the only objective one.

11 people found this helpful

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  • Paul
  • 05-12-16

A new view of the man.

A different perspective on his early life and great detail on the pre WWI Vienna years that makes his experience clearer. The rise to power is described based on multiple firsthand sources and provides the reader a very clear view of the motives of the players. At least that's what I came away with. A very clear and realistic picture of the man.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Herkamer98
  • 14-11-16

History we wished DIDN'T happen

Would you consider the audio edition of Hitler to be better than the print version?

No comment.

What did you like best about this story?

The IMMENSE amount of research that must have gone into this compelling book. Clearly the writer, and others before him, spent many, many MANY hours hunched over desks reading millions of words to get what was needed for this material. No detail, no matter how small, was left untold.

What does Don Hagen bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

I felt like I was sitting in the room with Hitler at times, listening to him scream and spit, berating those around him just for the joy of it, seeing his face turn different shades of red, wondering who wouldn't be in the room the next day because of some perceived slight that set him off so. A truly frightening yet fascinating monster of a man. To bring the story to that kind of life was compelling, which is what I always hope for, but don't always get, in biographies. This one delivered with change to spare. this one belongs in any history buff's library for sure.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

"Like you've never seen or heard him before"

7 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • matthew c strublic
  • 12-11-16

Great book!

This is perhaps one of the best woks on the subject I have come across. Personal details make this work come to life in a way that makes it most enjoyable to listen to. Highly recommend it.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Jay
  • 01-02-19

ugh

really awful narration, boring presentation, does not keep interest, very much a struggle to get through first few chapters before writing completely

3 people found this helpful

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  • Pegan
  • 03-08-18

Narrator whistles S

This narrator has a loud sharp whistle for any word ending in 's'. It's extremely distracting, I had to stop listening after an hour. I gave it another shot the next day but still couldn't get past it. Had to return the book.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous
  • 22-02-21

Terribly written

This book gives no knowledge or insight, contrary to what it states. The author discredits Hitler’s own words that he writes in Mein Kampf in favor of what another historian wrote, who simply wrote what he thinks is "more likely the case" instead, with no actual proof, and instead of what Hitler actually states himself in his own book. Makes no sense

2 people found this helpful

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  • Rupert Murdock
  • 12-12-20

NOTHING NEW HERE

REDUNDENT, BORING,REHASH WITH POOR CONTEXT AND VOLUMOUS TRIVIA ,THERE IS MUCH BETTER HISTORY AVAILABLE THAN THIS

2 people found this helpful