Why this book?
This was not the first biography of Hitler, but it was the first to try to explain Hitler’s power in terms of his relationship with the German people. For Fest, Hitler’s power rested on his ability to channel ordinary Germans’ hopes, fears, aspirations, and resentments. Fest came from a solidly anti-Nazi bourgeois background and in his insistence on reading Hitler as an expression of populist resentments ‘from below’ we may detect an inability to countenance the idea that Nazism came just as much from the centre of educated German middle-class society. In that sense, the book is a fascinating insight into what was at stake in the postwar period when Germans argued over who or what had been to blame for the catastrophe of Nazism. It remains, however, a classic among earlier accounts of Hitler’s career.