The Life and Death of Adolf Hitler by Robert Payne

I have read this book many times, and it never fails to fascinate. Hitler’s later career is well known to history; the really interesting part of this book deals with his youth. He appeares to have been an isolated dreamer, alienated from others but not totally devoid of human feeling. For much of his young life he drifted about aimlessly, unable to make anything of himself or even support himself. It wasn’t until he was in his thirties that he discovered his ability to speak. Thereafter the demons entered in. As a young man he was alienated but probably not altogether irredeemable; by the time he rose to power he was probably insane. It remains a profound mystery that one of the most civilized nations in the world could have followed him willingly into the abyss. This book is the biography of a madman who influenced world history more than any man before or since. It offers cautionary lessons, and it illustrates how fragile civilization is at its core.

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