TheDevils Disciples: Hitler's Inner Circle

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A fresh perspective on the Third Reich: the deadly contests among Hitler's lieutenants, and their disastrous consequences.
The Nazi regime was essentially a religious cult relying on the hypnotic personality of Adolf Hitler, and it was fated to die with him. But while it lasted, his closest lieutenants competed ferociously for power and position as his chosen successor. This peculiar leadership dynamic resulted in millions of deaths and some of the worst excesses of World War ...

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A fresh perspective on the Third Reich: the deadly contests among Hitler's lieutenants, and their disastrous consequences.
The Nazi regime was essentially a religious cult relying on the hypnotic personality of Adolf Hitler, and it was fated to die with him. But while it lasted, his closest lieutenants competed ferociously for power and position as his chosen successor. This peculiar leadership dynamic resulted in millions of deaths and some of the worst excesses of World War II. The Devil's Disciples is the first major book for a general readership to examine those lieutenants, not only as individuals but also as a group. It focuses on the three most important Nazi paladins—Göring, Goebbels, and Himmler—with their nearest rivals—Bormann, Speer, and Ribbentrop—in close attendance. Perceptive, illuminating, and grandly ambitious, The Devil's Disciples is above all a powerful chronological narrative, showing how the personalities of Hitler's inner circle developed and how their jealousies and constant intrigues affected the regime, the war, and Hitler himself.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
As the Gutterdammerung for Hitler's Germany approached in April 1945, the surviving members of the Fuhrer's inner circle of bureaucrats were still competing for his favor and conspiring, each in his own furtive way, to succeed him. Why anyone aspired to preside over the ruins is less a mystery after reading Read. From the unpromising beginnings of Nazism in the 1920s, ambitious misfits gathered around Hitler, whose demagogic genius in exploiting the humiliation of WWI's defeat seemed likely to propel him to power. Each was, in Read's words, "totally besotted" with Hitler and "bitterly jealous" of his attention to others. Not all survived the Darwinian struggle for favor and succession. Ernst R hm was murdered by fellow Nazis. Rudolf Hess took a solo flight to captivity. Reinhard Heydrich was assassinated. But three of the original disciples-Hermann Gering, Joseph Goebbels, Heinrich Himmler-remained to the end, competing for power even when, with defeat imminent, the prize had lost all value. Four latecomers also hung on for dubious glory: the foreign minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop; chief architect and war production genius, Albert Speer; Hitler's private secretary, Martin Bormann; and Adm. Karl Denitz, whom no one expected to be anointed Hitler's successor. That the internecine rivalries persisted beyond the end suggests the warped minds of Hitler's crew of bureaucratic criminals. Despite his penchant for clich ("the ripest of plums suddenly dropped into the Nazis' laps, completely out of the blue"), Read (coauthor of The Fall of Berlin, etc.) tells the story of two decades of assiduous jockeying for power in luridly absorbing if overwhelming detail. 16 pages of b&w photos. (Mar.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Over the last 60 years, thousands of books have been written on World War II, but few have been so well written and researched that they can change our very perspective of the war and the personalities involved in it. This is such a book. Read, the author or coauthor of over 20 books, including The Fall of Berlin, here examines the lives and motivations of each member of the Nazi power elite. He astutely portrays each of these powerful and power-hungry men (who include Hermann G ring, Heinrich Himmler, and Joseph Goebbels), showing us their relations with their families, their friends, Hitler, and one another. Read never lets Hitler overshadow his dissection of the rest of these flawed personalities; der Fuhrer is at once omnipresent and in the background, manipulating and "seducing." What results is a fresh depiction of the Nazi Party's rise to power. Read has humanized these deranged individuals and, in so doing, has laid bare their true evil. Dust off a spot on your shelf next to your copy of William Shirer's Rise and Fall of the Third Reich for this magnificent new work. Recommended for all academic and public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 11/15/03.]-Brian K. DeLuca, Avon Lake P.L. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Hermann Goring to Heinrich Himmler, April 1945: "Herr Reich Marshal . . . if anything should prevent you from succeeding the Fuhrer-say you are eliminated-can I have the position?" Adolf Hitler may have been close to the definitive self-made man, but he did not come into or maintain his power single-handedly. Far from it: without the early support of power-hungry men such as Ernst Rohm and Rudolf Hess, he might never have maneuvered his way from obscurity to Germany's chancellorship. In this very long but unflagging study, English historian Read sharpens the focus on these lieutenants such that Hitler sometimes seems absent from the scene altogether. "Each member of Hitler's inner circle," Read writes, "was deeply and totally besotted, desperate to please him, and bitterly jealous of any attention he bestowed on other suitors"-a rivalry that Hitler found most useful, inasmuch as it prevented his juniors from forming alliances that could be turned against him. One such junior was Himmler, a party stalwart from the first, who asserted that he would shoot his own mother if the Fuhrer commanded. Another was Joseph Goebbels, a genius at telling lies and having them believed; for instance, some 5,000 Jews survived the war in Berlin itself, "protected by sympathetic Berliners," even as Goebbels insisted that the city was "Jew-free." Another was Alfred Rosenberg, theoretician and de facto leader of the early Nazi party while Hitler was imprisoned, who, Read memorably writes, "was cold, arrogant, and boring beyond belief." Yet another was Goring, the most militarily accomplished of the Nazis, who ordered the murder of his old friend, Hitler's rival Rohm, in 1934, explaining to his American captorsafter the war, "But he was in my way . . ." Each was effective in his own way, and Read's narrative gives Hitler's lieutenants their due for their roles in making the Nazi state the efficient death machine that it was-squabbling with one another all the while and endlessly jockeying for position.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393326970
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 6/17/2005
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 1008
  • Sales rank: 1,401,036
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.75 (d)

Meet the Author

Anthony Read is the author of many books, most recently The Devil’s Disciples: Hitler’s Inner Circle. He lives in England.

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Table of Contents

Prologue 1
Part 1 Roots 1918-1923
I 'Our time will come again' 13
II 'If only there could be fighting again' 39
III Fighting the November Criminals 61
IV Beer Hall Revolution 85
Part 2 The Years of Struggle 1924-1933
V Regrouping 105
VI A Star in the Making 126
VII 'Chief Bandit of Berlin' 154
VIII 'We come as enemies' 176
IX 'SS-Man, your loyalty is your honour' 202
X 'Now the chess game for power begins' 223
XI The Turning Point 248
Part 3 Power and Revolution 1933-1936
XII Power 275
XIII Co-ordination 292
XIV The End of the Brown Revolution 317
XV Night of the Long Knives 345
XVI 'We always approve everything our Fuhrer does' 375
XVII The Four-Year Plan 404
Part 4 Expansion: The Greater German Reich 1937-1939
XVIII The Blomberg-Fritsch Affair 431
XIX Anschluss 456
XX The Sudetenland Crisis 480
XXI Kristallnacht 505
XXII 'I'll cook them a stew that they'll choke on' 528
XXIII 'I have the world in my pocket' 554
XXIV 'If we lose this war, then God have mercy on us' 574
Part 5 War: Germany Triumphant
XXV Blitzkrieg 595
XXVI 'Yellow' 614
XXVII Eagles and Sea Lions 641
XXVIII 'The whole world will hold its breath' 664
XXIX 'The greatest deception operation in military history' 693
XXX Barbarossa 710
Part 6 War: Defeat
XXXI The Final Solution 737
XXXII The Beginning of the End 761
XXXIII 'Do you want total war?' 783
XXXIV 'Call Me Meier!' 809
XXXV Last Throw of the Dice 831
XXXVI Gotterdammerung 860
XXXVII The End of the Road 891
Acknowledgements 925
Notes 926
Select Bibliography 948
Index 957
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2007

    Great book

    Being a history teacher and one who studies Nazi Germany, I have read many books on the subject. None of them took the approach that Read did and it works. It is an easy book to read and gives you an understanding of the ones surrounding Hitler instead of just Hitler himself. I enjoyed Rise and Fall of the Third Reich but this was much better.

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