The quintessential Hitler reading list

No, this isn’t for homework!

European history in high school was three decades ago and I’d like to delve into Hitler’s biography. (For all the right reasons, I assure you).

What books should I work my way through?

Alan Bullock’s Hitler: A Study in Tyranny is a good place to start. It’s still highly regarded even though it was originally published in 1952.

Adolf Hiter by John Toland is pretty good also.

And moving outward to context, Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich is still a classic.

I second Toland’s book, and would add Joachim Fest’s “Hitler: A Biography”, and Sir Ian Kershaw’s two part biography.

If you want something about Nazi Germany, rather than Hitler himself (although, of course, he’s talked about a great deal), read Richard Evans’ Third Reich trilogy (“The Coming of the Third Reich”, “The Third Reich in Power”, and “The Third Reich at War”).

The Iron Dream provides an interesting counterpoint.

These days, Kershaw’s definitely the starting point. Readable, convincing and astonishingly thorough, it’s likely to stand as the definitive Hitler biography for at least a generation - as both Bullock and Fest did.
The most interesting step beyond Kershaw has been Timothy Ryback’s recent Hitler’s Private Library. Rather than being any attempt at another full biography, it uses the device of looking at individual books from what survives of his book collection to try to illuminate parts of his inner life and hence suggest that perhaps more can be said about that than Kershaw thought.

Mein Kampf?

OK, this little book may not be quintessential, but it does provide a nice view of Hitler’s stubbornness and inability to adjust his military strategy or trust the expertise of his generals and how this lead to his defeat:

“How Hitler Could Have Won World War II (The fatal errors that led to nazi defeat)”
by Bevin Alexander

It is a good read for someone without a military background.