Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Hitler's Private Library

This is a book about Hitler's books. It begins with a brief discussion about how examining the book collection left behind will reveal much about its owner. The author, Timothy W. Ryback, then goes on to talk about some of the books Hitler left behind, including how well used they appear and markings left in the margin. The book is about the books of Hitler, when they came into his life, and how they influenced his thoughts.

A few things stood out to me about this book. First, some of the books that Hitler seemed to read were the typical classical books that many of us have heard of or read: Shakespeare, Don Quixote, Robinson Crusoe, Uncle Tom's Cabin, and Gulliver's Travels, for example. He spent hours reading each night, and would then discuss his readings in the morning. These are not things that immediately signal a troubled mind.

But he also had a vast collection of war books, as well as many Anti-Semitic books. His markings in these books show him to be greatly taken with the ideas and philosophies. It seems that he missed many of the messages in the fiction books, while believing whole-heartedly the nonfiction vitriol. Perhaps he was a man who did not see the truth in fiction?

This book gave a me different perspective of this man who affected the lives of so many. A deeper perspective, which did not improve my opinion of him but did shed some light on his decisions.

If you are interested, this book was an intriguing read. It is for those looking for greater clarity about how Hitler thought. It may also be for those interested in books and personal libraries.

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