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  • The Wages of Destruction

  • The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy
  • By: Adam Tooze
  • Narrated by: Adam Tooze, Simon Vance
  • Length: 30 hrs and 19 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, Europe
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (64 ratings)

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Summary

"Masterful.... [A] painstakingly researched, astonishingly erudite study.... Tooze has added his name to the roll call of top-class scholars of Nazism." (Financial Times)

An extraordinary mythology has grown up around the Third Reich that hovers over political and moral debate even today. Adam Tooze's controversial book challenges the conventional economic interpretations of that period to explore how Hitler's surprisingly prescient vision - ultimately hindered by Germany's limited resources and his own racial ideology - was to create a German super-state to dominate Europe and compete with what he saw as America's overwhelming power in a soon-to-be globalized world. 

The Wages of Destruction is a chilling work of originality and tremendous scholarship that set off debate in Germany and will fundamentally change the way in which history views the Second World War.  

This audiobook contains a downloadable PDF of tables and figures from the book. 

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2021 Adam Tooze (P)2021 Penguin Audio

Critic reviews

"One of the most important and original books to be published about the Third Reich in the past twenty years. A tour de force." (Niall Ferguson)

"Tooze has produced the most striking history of German strategy in the Second World War that we possess. This is an extraordinary achievement, and it places Adam Tooze in a very select company of historians indeed.... Tooze has given us a masterpiece which will be read, and admired; and it will stimulate others for a long time to come." (Nicholas Stargardt, History Today

"It is among Adam Tooze's many virtues, in The Wages of Destruction: The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy, that he can write about such matters with authority, explaining the technicalities of bombers and battleships. Hovering over his chronicle are two extraordinary questions: how Germany managed to last as long as it did before the collapse of 1945 and why, under Hitler, it thought it could achieve supremacy at all." (Norman Stone, The Wall Street Journal

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    3 out of 5 stars

Woulda, coulda…shoulda.

What am I to make of this book?

As a someone interested in history, recently getting curious about macroeconomics, I thought that I’d delve into a book about how the Nazis had pulled the Germans out of a devastated post WWI economy to finance their wartime efforts for the Second World War.

I’m not sure what I expected but I can’t say that I came away with much real insight after finishing this book. It’s not that the book was dry, or overly academic in some way, it’s just that the meal was not satisfying enough, it left a hole in your intellectual solar plexus.

How & why did Hitler forge the military blunders that cost Germany victory that appeared early on to be within its marital grasp? Many historians, armchair & otherwise, are only to willing to furnish us on the cheap with all the patent answers of self-complacent hindsight.

But one always finds oneself reaching to scratch the same annoying intellectual itch that, at the time when past was present, it must have looked quite different to the ones in the driver’s seat, doing the driving.

So I was perhaps searching for the delivery of unaccustomed answers from a different angle to quench the fire of my ignorance that was perhaps a key to this misunderstanding.

But alas, after finishing this book, I’m as mystified as I was prior to starting it.

Wages of Destruction is not so much a history of the economics of the process in question as it is a history with some nominal economics thrown in- like a handful of croutons on a sort of wilted tossed salad of the subject, when what you were really after was a five course banquet.

Perhaps I ought to give the book a second chance and sit down to make another meal of it?

3 people found this helpful

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Genuinely brilliant

I have been reading histories of WWII for over 50 years. I have become a little jaded; wondering how often one can come across something that truly adds something fresh given the mountain of books already written on every facet of that terrible conflict. Then this comes along.
I came to it via "Crashed"; Tooze's superb analysis of the 2008 financial meltdown. This, however, is better. Why? Because Tooze explains the dynamics of Hitler's war in a way that is not just new, it is unique.
He lays bare the economic drivers to the Nazi approach to WWII in a way that is clear, authoritative and totally credible. It really has changed my views on the war. It gives the first rational and credible explanation I have read for why on earth Hitler declared war on the USA. It offers a new context to the primacy (or otherwise) of Drang Nach Osten; the drive to the East. It adds powerful context as to just how reckless a gambler Hitler was given the threadbare economic underpinnings of his regime. It makes an important contribution on the importance of slave labour to the economics of the Nazi war machine and does a great job of bringing more rigour to the true role played by Albert Speer as opposed to his own reworking of history.
This is a truly brilliant, important book.

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Crucial for understanding WW2

This is a very good book focusing on an aspect of the war that doesn't get enough attention normally, although there are some flaws in the author's understanding of political systems, but that doesn't really affect the overall conclusions reached. The beginning of the book is somewhat heavy as it focuses quite a bit on monetary policy which is a somewhat dry topic, although certainly very important for the history of the war. The rest is easier to understand and follow, focusing and different aspects of the war economy, like for example what was done to increase production in certain sectors (i.e aircraft, ammunitions etc.) and also some historical narration around that generally, like what was going on in the war at that time to place it in the general context of WW2.
Highly recommended for anyone interested in WW2, even if you are not really interested in economy or do not understand much of it, you can certainly get out a lot of this book, especially after the beginning.

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Superb analysis of Nazi economy

This is a superb piece of work, excellently narrated and it is very welcome that there is now this audio version.

As someone once said "it's the economy, stupid". Those argues in great depth and with thorough research that the downfall of the third reich was due to the economic failures, poor planning and lack of resources as much as purely military matters. His debunking of the Speer myth is very good too.

No one with an interest in WW2 should be without this piece of work in one format or another.

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Good but overlong

This book is very interesting but it’s about 3 times as long as it needs to be and dry as a desert.

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Absolute Banger

Probably the best book on the second world war I've ever encountered. contains some challenging material - especially for those on the right of UK/US politics who might find some of the stuff about the inspiration for Hitler's project difficult - but a must listen if you're into the history of the period.

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Superb

Exceptional analysis and one to return to for a second go I think. Well read too.

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  • Uzi Geiger
  • 11-09-21

answers a long awaiting question

very nice and elaborate.
also manacung in how similar the third reich's economic system was to what we currently have.
only issue is how the writter keeps on using the derogatory term "Capitalism" to indicate free markets... the Communist propaganda is a hard habit to loose.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Philo
  • 23-08-21

Ties the story together in an amazing way

I expected the best from Adam Tooze, having happily devoured audios of The Deluge and Crashed (and avidly awaiting the release soon of Shutdown). My expectations were more than fulfilled. I long ago absorbed all the standard narratives of World War 2 in classrooms, documentaries and shallower books, but this only deepened my curiosity: how did this battered nation seemingly spring up from ruin, march across the world stage, and shake (and ultimately rearrange) the world order? This is the book I was waiting for, to connect all the vital parts and details. Here is a masterful telling of a huge body of events, yet producing all sorts of unforeseen insights, through various connecting side stories. It goes far beyond a dry recitation of, say, steel production statistics. It breathes life into those facts, with riveting personal (and corporate) stories, moving seamlessly from on-the-ground details to the big picture and back, from culture to politics to personalities to finance to weapons systems to battles, through countless connecting narratives. In retrospect I am startled at my ignorance on something like the full role of Hermann Goering in Nazi history. Similarly the doings in occupied territories sprung into new detail and dimensions. I knew the Nazis as vicious kleptocrats, but now I get the whole tapestry of this, the vital nuts and bolts alongside the big picture. Narrator Simon Vance does his usual top job.

7 people found this helpful

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  • e s
  • 25-02-22

Couldn’t sit through the narrator

Arrogant matter of fact voice, sorry I stopped at the preface I couldn’t possibly sit through 30 hours of a pompous arrogant voice

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  • Andrew Tippey
  • 22-08-21

Great Read

Highly engaging read. Hard to put down. Explains economic and ideological rationale for what is often written off as idiosyncratic miscalculation.

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  • IC
  • 25-12-21

Excellent and Unique View

Best I have read in terms of tying German strategy with economic realities Germany faced after WW1 and in going up against Russia and the United States. Clearly and logically explained and well narrated.

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  • Shikamarukarl
  • 17-09-21

Superb

This book helped me to challenge many assumptions that I had held about WWII. Absolutely fascinating.

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  • A very satisfied customer.
  • 18-06-22

Masterpiece! Most highly recommended!

This is a masterpiece synthesizing a huge body of research regarding the jNazi economy from 1933-1945. Most highly recommended. I plan to obtain the author’s “The Deluge.”

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  • Jeff Lacy
  • 22-02-22

Enlightening perspective enhanced by narration

This is an enlightening perspective on how economic and financial challenges affected the Nazi regime’s prosecution of its European war on two fronts. Tooze’s historiography is dense with fresh facts, data, analysis, and hence, insightful conclusions. I would recommend some familiarity with WWI, WWII and Europe between the two wars. And perhaps some knowledge of post-WWII Europe. Also helpful would be a knowledge of economics. Simon Vance, as always, gives a clear and pleasant narration, fostering one’s comprehension and entertainment.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 30-12-21

More than history.

Interesting deep dive into the catastrophe of World War II in Europe. well narrated & produced.