In this important book, Mark Mazower provides the best available survey of the Nazi empire's precipitous rise and violent demise…[he] tells this somber story with great skill. He captures the diversity of Europeans' experience without getting lost in detail; he maintains narrative momentum without losing sight of major themes. By describing a carefully selected set of individuals and events, he gives the experience of war a human face, bringing to life an extended cast of villains and victims. While his focus is on the Germans, he makes a number of illuminating comparisons with other regimes. In a stimulating and provocative final chapter, he explores the war's meaning for world history…Mazower;s eloquent and instructive book reminds us what the world would have been like if Hitler's enemies had been unwilling or unable to pay the price of defeating him.
The New York Times
Many histories have focused on Hitler's costly military mistakes, particularly on the Eastern Front. Mazower largely ignores the battlefields and focuses instead on the political, racial and economic policies of the Nazi conquerors. While many parts of this story have been told before, he painstakingly examines a huge body of evidence for insights into Nazi misrule. This hardly makes for light reading, but it allows him to present a compelling case, which was best summarized by a German general at the end of the war. Addressing his fellow POWs, Ferdinand Heim argued that the German war effort would have been doomed "even if no military mistakes had been made"…all the way through, Mazower offers incisive details and insights that make Hitler's Empire a fascinating read.
The Washington Post
Columbia University historian Mazower (Inside Hitler's Greece) is a knowledgeable guide to the dynamics of Nazi domination of Europe. His focus is on the ambitions and foibles of the Nazi leaders, who believed that all of Europe could be made to serve German interests. As Mazower shows so well, almost nothing about the occupation had been planned beforehand. The Nazis improvised as their armies raced through Poland, the Soviet Union and the Low Countries, and Nazi generals and old-line bureaucrats fought among themselves for power and spoils. Mazower's most interesting commentary comes at the beginning, when he compares the Nazi imperium to other European empires, and at the end, when he demonstrates its long-lasting consequences. The breadth of Mazower's study is remarkable, but while not diminishing the toll of the Nazi anti-Semitism, he claims, contrary to many scholars, that core of the Nazi worldview was not anti-Semitism, "but rather... the quest to unify Germans within a single German state." Pulitzer Prize-winner Saul Friedländer's coinage of "redemptive anti-Semitism" is far more effective at evoking the realities of Nazi rule than any of Mazower's formulations. Maps. (Sept.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
To the 5000-plus titles in English that examine Hitler and the Nazi era must be added yet another tome, and one that is good. Mazower (program director, Ctr. for International History, Columbia Univ.) has produced an exceptional study of the Nazis and their quest for the control of Europe and its surrounding territory. Expanding on his Dark Continent: Europe's Twentieth Century , Mazower masterfully surveys how the Nazis successfully applied current military technology to accomplish the age-old Prussian goal of dominating the other European nations. The Nazis were effective at conquering (at least at the beginning) but were awful at managing their new subjects: despite their initial spate of victories in 1939-40, the Germans were ruthless masters and quickly lost any support their newly conquered peoples may have felt for them as rulers. Mazower sets his narrative within the context of how European thinkers envisioned empire building in the new 20th century, which puts a slightly different spin on the Nazis and World War II. An essential work; recommended for all collections.-Ed Goedeken, Iowa State Univ. Lib., Ames
Astute, systematic study traces the roots of the Nazi obsession with a Greater Germany and its murderous, ultimately inept implementation across Europe. Mazower (History/Columbia Univ.; Salonica, City of Ghosts, 2005, etc.) deconstructs the Nazi vision step by step. It encompassed on the one hand the reconquest of land the Germans believed belonged to them from medieval times (Lebensraum), wedded to the "science" of race on the other (Germans versus Untermenschen). Love of nation and hatred of the Slavs had emerged strongly amid the revolutionary spirit of 1848; both were exacerbated by the humiliating terms of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. Once the Nazis started rolling across national boundaries, millions of non-Germans came under German rule. This raised a new and urgent question: How could these alien peoples be incorporated into the Reich "in a way that accorded with the principles of racial jurisprudence"? While Norway, the Netherlands and other northern countries were inhabited by suitably Germanic peoples, the Slav nations were not, and Himmler's ambitious resettlement plan aimed to send pure-blood German "farmer-soldiers" into model villages while driving the ethnic natives and Jews steadily east, thus ensuring a buffer for "an irruption from Asia." Making the annexation of these countries pay proved increasingly nettlesome for the Nazis, and Mazower examines in turn their mismanagement of the food supply, resources, foreign workers, POWs, slave labor and collaboration policies. Indeed, the Nazis seemed to have stumbled into the great centers of European Jewry in Poland, Hungary and elsewhere without having given advance thought to the problem of what to do with them.Mazower offers perspective on how the so-called Nazi New Order altered and destroyed 19th-century notions of nationalism, imperialism and international law, especially within European powers. A tireless, immensely valuable reassessment of the entire Nazi edifice and its breakdown.