Viewing posts tagged hitler

Voluminous Description

Finally finished Kershaw's biography of Hitler.  I've been working on it - both volumes, unabridged - for years, picking it up for a bit, putting it down for a bit, etc.  (This is how I usually tackle mammoth reading projects.)

Can't help feeling underwhelmed.  I mean, I'm in absolute awe of the scholarship and knowledge and patience and effort involved in such a massive and detailed project... but it fails to live up to the hype from the middle-brow and/or reactionary reviewers - Paxman, Sereny, Hastings, Burleigh, etc - that is splashed so proudly all over the back covers.

Kershaw has produced something that is, at least for long stretches, narrative history.  The narrative history of one protagonist.  This would be fine if the protagonist possessed fascinating and complex (if vile) interiority.  Hitler, however, did not have anything of the kind.  He appears to have been a nonentity, a psychological nullity, a hazy cloud of pedestrian neuroses, a reflex machine made of clockwork prejudices, a lazy fool, a windbag, a crashing bore, a plodder, a cold and self-involved man, a man with little capacity for any passion other than fury, and little ...

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