Beyond Evil and Tyranny
By R. H. S. Stolfi
(Prometheus Books, Hardcover, 9781616144746, 520pp.)
Publication Date: October 25, 2011
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Countless books, including five major biographies, have been devoted to the subject of Adolf Hitler. Yet, despite the mass of tantalizing detail uncovered over six decades, the man at the center of so much historical, psychological, and political analysis remains elusive. For some, he was evil personified, a diabolical tyrant driven by a lust for power; for others, he was a banal demagogue, an opportunist with a talent for propaganda and oration but little more than an empty vessel embodying the disappointments of a defeated Germany. Though we know many facts about Hitler, no coherent picture of his character or personality emerges. Instead, we are left with a cardboard cutout of an evil dictator whose life, in the end, no one can really explain. This fascinating and richly detailed new biography of Hitler reinterprets the known facts about the Nazi Fuehrer to construct a convincing, realistic portrait of the man. In place of the hollow shell others have made into an icon of evil, the author sees a complex, nuanced personality. Without in any way glorifying its subject, this unique revision of the historical Hitler brings us closer to understanding a pivotal personality of the twentieth century.
R. H. S. Stolfi, professor emeritus at the US Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, and retired colonel in the US Marine Corps Reserve, is the author of German Panzers on the Offensive: Russian Front, North Africa 1941–1942; Hitler’s Panzers East: World War II Reinterpreted; and NATO under Attack: Why the Western Alliance Can Fight Outnumbered and Win in Central Europe without Nuclear Weapons (with Friedrich Wilhelm von Mellenthin and E. Sobik).
"This is no neo-Nazi apologia for the horrors of the Third Reich. It is an earnest effort to interpret Hitler’s personal evolution and place his actions within his personal and political context. . . . In trying to fathom the ‘real’ Hitler, Stolfi may be on a fool’s errand, but this provocative work is at least worthy of discussion."