This is one very well researched and at the same time fascinating book. Like many, I knew of plots to kill Hitler (mainly operation Valkyrie), but I wasn’t aware that there were quite so many others. It appears that the fact that none of the plots succeeded was more down to good luck that bad planning. Hitler, it seems, led a rather charmed life: but it was enthralling to see just how close so many people came to removing Hitler from power.
However, this book was about so much more than just the plots against Hitler; it gave an insight into the German people and their thinking. It revealed that lines were crossed that were repugnant to Germans, both military and civilian. This book tells the stories of individuals making almost impossibly difficult decisions and then struggling to choose what they could live with, or what sacrifices they were prepared to make, for what they saw as the greater good.
Every last one of the plotters and conspirators was well aware of the fate they faced if they were caught, or if things went wrong. It was so interesting, maybe even comforting, to see that there were many who would put their country before Hitler. Hitler didn’t quite have the universal support that my school history lessons taught.
The author is a former Israeli intelligence officer and academic who has looked at Hitler’s 12 years reign afresh and taken on-board many previously ignored or overlooked sources. At times the book reads like a thriller, at others like a heavyweight academic paper: and it is the latter that I suspect will cause issues for some readers: in places the text is incredibly dry and detailed. I must admit, I didn’t find the book the easiest of reads, but as my interest was piqued I persevered and it all came r ight in the end. However, this is a long book (400+ pages) packed with references and one that you’ll be unlikely to get the best out of through a couple of evenings reading: best put aside a week or so.
Again, being honest, when I read of the author’s background I was expecting the almost obligatory diatribe about Hitler. I was proven very much wrong. The author has handled the topic very evenly, and in my opinion in an almost unbiased fashion.
Any serious WW2 historian would appreciate this book as it brings a few new and different ideas to the fore. It is certainly the most comprehensive book that I’ve read on the subject.
I’m going to rate this book at 41/2 Anchors, it’s well worth a read, despite some of the dryness.