A Global Biography


By Brendan Simms

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From a prize-winning historian, the definitive biography of Adolph Hitler

Hitler offers a deeply learned and radically revisionist biography, arguing that the dictator’s main strategic enemy, from the start of his political career in the 1920s, was not communism or the Soviet Union, but capitalism and the United States. Whereas most historians have argued that Hitler underestimated the American threat, Simms shows that Hitler embarked on a preemptive war with the United States precisely because he considered it such a potent adversary. The war against the Jews was driven both by his anxiety about combatting the supposed forces of international plutocracy and by a broader desire to maintain the domestic cohesion he thought necessary for survival on the international scene.

A powerfully argued and utterly definitive account of a murderous tyrant we thought we understood, Hitler is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the origins and outcomes of the Second World War.


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In order to reduce the already very large number of references, documents from these collections, which are easily available, have been cited in shortened form.

ADAP Akten zur Deutschen Auswärtigen Politik 19181945. Aus dem Archiv des Auswärtigen Amtes. Series C. (1933–7), Series D (1937–41) and Series E: (1941–5) (Göttingen, 1950–81)
BAK Bundesarchiv Koblenz
BayHSTA Bayerisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Abt. IV, Kriegsarchiv
BT Klaus Gerbet (ed.), Generalfeldmarschall Fedor von Bock. Zwischen Pflicht und Verweigerung. Das Kriegstagebuch (Munich and Berlin, 1995)
DVW Hans-Adolf Jacobsen (ed.), Dokumente zur Vorgeschichte des Westfeldzuges, 1939–1940 (Göttingen, Berlin and Frankfurt, 1956)
DW Hans-Adolf Jacobsen (ed.), Dokumente zum Westfeldzug, 1940 (Berlin, Göttingen and Frankfurt, 1960)
ES Hildegard von Kotze and Helmut Krausnick (eds.), ‘Es spricht der Führer’. 7 exemplarische Hitler-Reden (Gütersloh, 1966)
ET Hildegard von Kotze (ed.), Heeresadjutant bei Hitler, 19381943. Aufzeichnungen des Majors Engel (Stuttgart, 1974)
FE Martin Moll (ed.), Führer-Erlasse, 19391945 (Stuttgart, 1997)
FK Willi A. Bölcke (ed.), Deutschlands Rüstung im Zweiten Weltkrieg. Hitlers Konferenzen mit Albert Speer, 19421945 (Frankfurt, 1969)
GT Die Tagebücher von Joseph Goebbels im Auftrag des Instituts für Zeitgeschichte und mit Unterstützung des Staatlichen Archivdienstes Russlands, ed. Elke Fröhlich, 24 vols. (Munich, 1993–2006)
HB Wolf Rüdiger Hess (ed.), Hess Briefe, 19081933 (Munich, 1987)
HP Lothar Gruchmann and Reinhard Weber (eds.), Der Hitler-Prozess 1924. Wortlaut der Hauptverhandlung vor dem Volksgericht München I, 4 vols. (Munich, 1997–9)
HT Hans-Adolf Jacobsen (ed.), Franz Halder. Kriegstagebuch. Tägliche Aufzeichnungen des Chefs des Generalstabes des Heeres 19391942, 3 vols. (Stuttgart, 1962–4)
HW Walther Hubatsch (ed.), Hitlers Weisungen für die Kriegsführung, 19391945 (Frankfurt, 1962)
IMT Der Prozess gegen die Hauptskriegverbrechen vor dem Internationalen Militärgerichtshof (Nuremberg, 1949)
KB Martin Vogt (ed.), Herbst 1941 im Führerhauptquartier. Berichte Werner Koeppens an seinen Minister Alfred Rosenberg (Koblenz, 2002)
KP Willi A. Boelcke (ed.), Kriegspropaganda 19391941. Geheime Ministerkonferenzen im Reichspropagandaministerium (Stuttgart, 1966)
KTB, OKW Helmuth Greiner and Percy Ernst Schramm (eds.), Kriegstagebuch des Oberkommandos der Wehrmacht, 4 vols. (in 7 parts) (Frankfurt, 1961–5).
LB Helmut Heiber (eds.), Hitlers Lagebesprechungen. Die Protokollfragmente seiner militärischen Konferenzen, 19421945 (Stuttgart, 1962)
LOC Library of Congress
LV Gerhard Wagner (ed.), Lagevorträge des Oberbefehlshabers der Kriegsmarine vor Hitler 19391945 (Munich, 1972)
MK Christian Hartmann, Thomas Vordermayer, Othmar Plöckinger and Roman Töppel (eds.), Hitler. Mein Kampf. Eine kritische Edition (Munich and Berlin, 2016).
RH Friedrich Hartmannsgruber (ed.), Regierung Hitler. Akten der Reichskanzlei, 7 vols. (Berlin and Munich, 1983–2015)
RSA Institut für Zeitgeschichte (ed.), Adolf Hitler, Reden, Schriften und Anordnungen. Februar 1925 bis Januar 1933, 17 vols. (Munich, 1992–2003)
RT Jürgen Matthäus and Frank Bajohr (eds.), Alfred Rosenberg. Die Tagebücher von 1934 bis 1944 (Frankfurt, 2015)
SA Eberhard Jäckel with Axel Kuhn (eds.), Adolf Hitler. Sämtliche Aufzeichnungen, 19051924 (Stuttgart, 1980)
SD Andreas Hillgruber (ed.), Staatsmänner und Diplomaten bei Hitler. Vertrauliche Aufzeichnungen über Unterredungen mit Vertretern des Auslandes 1939–1941, 2 vols. (Frankfurt, 1967–70)
WA Henry Ashby Turner (ed.), Otto Wagener. Hitler aus nächster Nähe. Aufzeichnungen eines Vertrauten 19291932 (Frankfurt, 1978)


Just over twenty years ago, a German reviewer counted more than 120,000 books and articles on Hitler and the Third Reich,1 a figure which has increased substantially since. The best of the biographies have reflected their times and scholarly trends. Alan Bullock’s pioneering Hitler: A Study in Tyranny, written just nine years after 1945 and at the height of the Cold War, saw him as an exemplar of the ‘Age of Unenlightened Despotism’, but also as an ‘opportunist entirely without principle’.2 Intentionally or not, this interpretation chimed with the wider intellectual context of totalitarianism theory, and the more local propensity of his colleague A. J. P. Taylor to privilege happenstance and contingency over deeper patterns of explanation. Two decades later, Joachim Fest wrote a celebrated biography which was more literary than scholarly, but admired by many professional historians. It was the first large-scale imaginative attempt to explain how a man like Hitler could gain and keep power in an economically advanced and culturally sophisticated country such as Germany.3 This was a milestone in the history of the Federal Republic, and the culmination of thirty years of research and soul-searching. Fest’s biography was thus as much a book about Germans as it was about Hitler.

It took another twenty years for the next ‘classic’ biography to appear. The two volumes by Ian Kershaw, which remain the standard work, reflected the considerable quantity of research done on the Nazi dictatorship over the previous decades, especially the ‘turn’ towards social history, and the long debate between ‘intentionalists’, who drew a more or less straight line from pragmatic statements in the 1920s to the end of Hitler’s career, and ‘structuralists’, who emphasized institutional rivalries and dynamics.4 Fest had been criticized for abstracting Hitler too much from his surroundings.5 Kershaw’s Hitler, by contrast, was highly contextualized. He undertook to ‘focus not upon the personality of Hitler’, but on the ‘character of his power’, which required him to ‘look in the first instance to others, not to Hitler himself’.6 Kershaw’s biography also took account of the ‘voluntarist’ turn, by which historians increasingly stressed the active collaboration of the population in Nazi initiatives. The enduring power of institutions and groupings was recognized, and individual agency was restored to historical actors, both great and small.7 The ‘myth’ surrounding the Führer was shown to be as much constructed by others as his own confection.8 Kershaw’s Hitler did not control everything, because he did not need to: the principal players ‘worked towards the Führer’ on their own initiative.9 His power rested not so much on his own demonic energy, as on the cooperation of the German elites and the population at large. Hitler was cut down to size, though he still remained highly visible.

Since then, there have been further biographies and specialist studies.10 Volker Ullrich particularly emphasizes Hitler’s personality.11 Shortly afterwards, Peter Longerich has crowned a long engagement with the history of the Third Reich with his own interpretation, which took into account many of the detailed studies that have appeared since the appearance of Kershaw’s two volumes.12 He showed Hitler to be much more than a mere ‘catalyser’ of pre-existing forces in German society and a much more dominant figure than the ‘structuralist’ view had allowed. At around the same time, Wolfram Pyta’s book, though not strictly speaking a biography, showed how the ‘cultural’ turn in historical studies could provide new insights into Hitler’s self-fashioning as a ‘genius’ and the ‘performative’ nature of his rule.13 Most recently, Hans-Ulrich Thamer’s short biography has reminded us once again of the importance of violence and seduction in Hitler’s relationship with the German people.14

There are many respects in which the author’s own offering cannot compete with this field. It can obviously never be the first major work on its subject, nor will it be the last word. It does not aspire to the literary flair of Joachim Fest, the scale and depth of Ian Kershaw, Peter Longerich’s profound understanding of the Nazi domestic system, the theoretical sophistication of Wolfram Pyta, or the psychological penetration of Volker Ullrich. Nor does this biography try to reinvent the wheel. It takes account of but does not attempt to synthesize the vast recent specialized research on the Third Reich more generally.15 It cannot explain the profound connection that Hitler had with the German people.16 Instead, this is a book not about the Hitler they voted for, but the Hitler they got. It is not about what he ‘achieved’, but about what he intended. Finally, Hitler’s personality and private life remain elusive throughout, though facets of them–some unexpected–will emerge. That said, while the author cannot provide the ‘whole’ Hitler himself, he hopes to show that our picture of him has hitherto been seriously incomplete.

This biography makes three big and interrelated new claims. First, that Hitler’s principal preoccupation throughout his career was Anglo-America and global capitalism, rather than the Soviet Union and Bolshevism. Secondly, that Hitler’s view of the German Volk–even when purged of Jews and other ‘undesirables’–was highly ambivalent, reflecting a sense of inferiority by comparison with the ‘Anglo-Saxons’. Thirdly, that we have–for very understandable reasons–focused too much on Hitler’s murderous ‘negative eugenics’ against the Jews and other ‘undesirables’ and not enough on what he regarded as his ‘positive eugenics’, which were designed to ‘elevate’ the German people to the level of their British and American rivals.17 All this means that we have missed the extent to which Hitler was locked in a worldwide struggle not just with ‘world Jewry’ but with the ‘Anglo-Saxons’. The author’s ambition here is not merely ‘additive’, the provision of a new dimension to an existing framework. Rather, he wishes his work to be understood as ‘substitutive’. If the claims therein are sustainable, then Hitler’s biography, and perhaps the history of the Third Reich more generally, need to be fundamentally rethought.

This biography therefore breaks with much of the prevailing view, or views, on Hitler. He did not place the German people on a racial pedestal, but was consumed throughout by fear of their enduring fragility. Hitler did not believe that the United States had been crippled by the Wall Street Crash, and it remained a central factor in his thinking from the early 1920s onwards. The book also rebuts the tenacious belief that the principal driver of Hitler’s world view, and source of his virulent anti-Semitism, was fear of the Soviet Union or Bolshevism. It consequently does not accept the centrality, for him, of the eastern front in the Second World War. The book does not see a meaningful ‘conceptual pluralism’ in any area of Nazi domestic or foreign policy which really mattered to Hitler. Hitler was not a prisoner of any force in German society, of competing power centres. If German government was often in a state of ‘polycratic chaos’, this was certainly not the result of any conscious attempt on the dictator’s part to ‘divide and rule’. That said, none of the works cited are totally without either value or error, and this book inevitably concurs with scholars of the Third Reich on some issues and parts company on others. This is reflected in the notes, where the literature is generally cited when in explicit agreement, while errors are usually corrected only by implication.

The author, in fact, draws heavily on the work of others. He has been inspired by some recent general historiographical trends. First, the ‘transnational’ turn has provided a new framework for German history, in which events there are understood as part of broader European and even global processes.18 The subfield of Histoire Croisée offered a particularly valuable stimulus for understanding the enduring German–American entanglement which shaped so much of Hitler’s thinking and career.19 Secondly, ‘globalization’: the Hitler of this biography was, for all his specificity, a product of global forces.20 He fits well into recent work on world capitalism.21 Thirdly, the ‘environmental turn’ enables us to see Hitler as primarily a Malthusian, a politician of scarcity.22 Fourthly, recent studies of global governance, especially the Anglo-American cartel which emerged in the early twentieth century, sharpened the author’s perception of Hitler’s revolt against this order.23

Fifthly, historical studies of migration and race, especially those on Anglo-American settler colonialism, and research into the international politics of race, in particular the stress on the ‘Anglo-Saxon hegemons’, have provided a context for thinking about Hitler’s world view.24 In this sense, Germany can be seen, and was seen by contemporary Germans–including Hitler–as both colonizing and colonized; it was not clear to which side of the ‘global colour line’ it really belonged. The Reich was the ‘replenisher’, not the ‘replenished’,25 the ‘fertilizer’–to use Hitler’s own phrase–not the fertilized. Conversely, as Aimé Césaire pointed out back in the mid-1950s, Hitler’s imperial project in Europe inverted the traditional racial order by reducing many white men to an inferior status usually reserved for people of colour.26 Sixthly, the ‘spatial turn’ in the historical literature helps us to understand how Germany, having transitioned from the traditional Reich into a nation, was now reconceived once again as an empire on a global scale.27 Finally, the ‘temporal turn’ in historical studies prompted the author to pay particular attention to time, timing and–especially–timelines in Hitler’s thinking.28 The expansion and contraction of time in his mind will emerge as a crucial variable.

More specifically, it will be clear from the text that the author is greatly indebted to the many works on Nazi Germany that have appeared over the past twenty years.29 Mark Mazower has provided a framework for understanding the Third Reich as a European empire in Europe.30 Tim Snyder has stressed the ‘environmental’ dimension to Hitler’s thinking. Adam Tooze has shown the extent to which the United States needs to be understood as the principal reference point for the Third Reich from the start, but especially after the wartime battle for production commenced.31 The American dimension to twentieth-century German history more generally has been well described by Mary Nolan, Philipp Gassert, and Stefan Kühl.32 Johann Chapoutot has reminded us of the enduring importance of ideas in the Nazi project,33 and Lars Lüdicke has recalled to mind the astonishing consistency of thought on key issues over twenty-five years.34

This biography has also benefited from the numerous new studies on particular periods or aspects of Hitler’s life. Dirk Bavendamm put Hitler’s youth under the microscope; Brigitte Hamann re-examined Hitler’s time in Vienna, showing that there was no evidence for any anti-Semitic sentiment on his part during those years.35 Instead, as Anton Joachimsthaler demonstrated, Hitler’s ‘path’ really began in Munich.36 Thomas Weber has illuminated Hitler’s experiences during the First World War. Othmar Plöckinger and Thomas Weber took a much closer look at Hitler’s crucial years in Munich immediately after the war. Plöckinger also wrote a detailed analysis of the gestation and legacy of Mein Kampf.37 Despina Stratigakos examined Hitler’s domestic architectural preferences and activities, a hitherto neglected subject.38 Anna Maria Sigmund was the first to examine the complicated ménage à trois between Hitler, his niece Geli Raubal and his chauffeur Emil Maurice.39 Heike Görtemaker wrote the first satisfactory account of his relationship with Eva Braun.40 Timothy Ryback provided an insight into Hitler’s reading habits, while Bill Niven examined his cinematic preferences.41 Fritz Redlich subjected Hitler to serious psychiatric analysis,42 Johannes Hürter examined Hitler’s relationship wth his senior military commanders,43 and Stephen Fritz has made a strong case that Hitler was no military amateur.44

There have also been several important studies on Hitler’s role in the Third Reich. Christian Goeschel has traced the evolution of his ‘fascist alliance’ with Mussolini.45 Kurt Bauer showed that he was centrally involved in the failed Austrian coup of 1934.46 Andreas Krämer’s study of the May crisis of 1938 and its aftermath showed a dictator reacting to outside events, but completely in control of the German national security apparatus.47 Angela Hermann’s study of the Munich crisis and its consequences showed that the ‘conceptual pluralism’ in Nazi foreign policy only existed at the level below the dictator himself.48 Rolf-Dieter Müller has persuasively argued that Hitler’s plan in 1938–9 was to attack the Soviet Union, and that he was only deflected by the Polish refusal to cooperate.49 The centrality of the American dimension in 1940–41 has been emphasized in Ian Kershaw’s study of Hitler’s fateful decisions.50 Edward Westermann and Carroll Kakel have compared Hitler’s war in Russia with the conquest of the American West.51 The volumes of Das Deutsche Reich und der Zweite Weltkrieg, in effect the official German history of the war, have shown Hitler’s centrality to the course of the conflict.52 Finally, Hitler’s central role in the murder of six million Jews has been proven beyond all doubt by Richard Evans, Peter Longerich and others involved in the rebuttal of David Irving’s claims to the contrary.53 Magnus Brechtken and Maximilian Becker of the Institute for Contemporary History in Munich are currently preparing a scholarly edition of Hitler’s speeches as chancellor.54

The arguments made in this book are based on plentiful, if uneven, source materials. Many of these are well known, others have been surprisingly neglected and some are, to the best of the author’s knowledge, completely new. The principal source for the first thirty years or so of Hitler’s life is the complete edition of his correspondence, writings and remarks (some of them reported at second hand) until 1924; the known forgeries therein have been discounted.55 This collection is reasonably full for the years from 1919, but sketchy before then; for example, we have no records whatsoever for a full year between August 1908 and August 1909.56 From the mid-1920s onwards, this biography relies mainly on the critical editions of Mein Kampf,57 the Second Book and the voluminous edition of his speeches and writings between 1925 and 1933.58

As one would expect, there is an exponential increase in the number of records for the period after Hitler took power in 1933. An important source for the Third Reich itself is the pioneering collection by Max Domarus, which mostly consists of speeches; it is incomplete and the editorial standards leave a lot to be desired.59 There is also a much smaller, but rather better edition of seven of the most important Hitler speeches by Hildegard von Kotze and Helmut Krausnick.60 The documents of Hitler’s cabinets give us a valuable insight into his practice of government, and the Documents on German Foreign Policy also contain many statements by him.61 For the war years, we have Martin Moll’s edition of Hitler’s ‘decrees’, Walther Hubatsch’s collection of Hitler’s ‘Directives’, Willi Boelcke’s edition of his conferences with Albert Speer on war production, and the Lagebesprechungen, the surviving protocols of Hitler’s military briefings.62 These serial sources are supplemented by memoirs, diaries, the recent extremely valuable ‘Itinerary’ compiled by Harald Sandner and other printed sources.63 While most of the material cited in this book has been in the public domain for some time, the importance of some of it has not been recognized, with a number of key statements lying hiding in plain sight for decades.

As with all historical sources, those for Hitler, particularly the diaries and memoirs, must be treated with caution. Joseph Goebbels, for example, intended most of his diaries for publication and the biographer must beware of his aggrandisements from beyond the grave.64 Albert Speer, for his part, not merely engaged in blatant distortion and apologetics, but also tended to exaggerate his special bond with Hitler.65 Some apparently contemporaneous sources, such as Otto Wagener’s Aufzeichnungen and Gerhard Engel’s diary, were in fact written up many years after the events they describe, but cross-checking shows them to be almost without exception a reliable guide.66 We also need to be careful with the records of Hitler’s wartime ‘Table Talk’, which, though generally accurate on his sentiments, contains some demonstrable distortions and should not be taken as a verbatim record of what he actually said.67 None of his supposed utterances there have been cited as direct speech. With suitable caveats, all these records have been used where appropriate.

By contrast, this biography has discounted a number of ‘classic’ sources altogether. With regard to Hitler’s early life, which has been distorted by Mein Kampf and subsequent ‘memories’ of his contemporaries, the author has taken the rather drastic step of relying only on material generated at the time. This ruled out, for example, the memoirs of his childhood friend Kubizek.68 No reliance was placed on anything said or quoted by Werner Maser.69 Sources like the ‘Breiting conversations’ and the recollections of Hermann Rauschning, which have long been treated with suspicion but still crop up in some reputable accounts, were not used.70 Finally, with considerable reluctance, the author has entirely disregarded Hitler’s alleged ‘Testament’ from early 1945. The sentiments therein clearly chime with those of Hitler, and indeed with the argument of this book, but a recent forensic examination shows its provenance to be too dubious to place any reliance on its content.71

The new sources used for this biography fall into two categories. Some simply gloss or elaborate well-known aspects of Hitler’s career. Others, however, support the central arguments of the book. The Bavarian Kriegsarchiv yielded new material on Hitler’s First World War experience, including his seminal encounter with American soldiers and the struggle of his regiment with their new adversaries more generally. Other Munich depositories confirmed the depth of Hitler’s concern about Bavarian separatism. The records of the Foreign Office contained valuable material on returning German emigrants and the plan to ‘exchange’ them for departing German Jews. So far as the author is aware, none of these particular documents have been used by other biographers of Hitler, and it is unlikely that they were aware of them.

In order to marshal all this material into a coherent argument, the author has adopted a ‘funnel’ approach. At the outset, where the sources are sparse, he has sought to be as all-encompassing as possible. As the book progresses, as the main lines of interpretation become clearer, and the source material more copious, the focus narrows. This also reflects the fact that Hitler was remarkably open about his thinking in his early years and became progressively more cautious. In general, the author has attempted to show rather than tell. This involves extensive exegesis and direct quotation from Hitler himself. Unlike some works, therefore, this biography is ‘context-light’ and ‘Hitler-centric’.72 We will not lose him from sight for more than a paragraph or two at a time. This is not to suggest, of course, that Hitler was an entirely sui generis thinker–it is well known that he drew extensively on others–merely that we shall be focusing on what he believed, rather than where he got it from. Following Richard Evans’s injunction, we will privilege ‘analysis, argument and interpretation’ over ‘the language of the court prosecutor and the sermonizing moralist’.73 No attempt has been made to contradict Hitler systematically, as to do so would have burst the bounds of the book and resulted in a very different work. Unless they have reason to believe otherwise, readers–to borrow a phrase–would be well advised to regard everything he said as a lie, including the ‘and’ and the ‘the’. One way or the other, the ‘truth content’ of Hitler’s writings and speeches is of less importance to this biography than their meaning and intention. Here, the author has tried throughout to get into Hitler’s mind, without letting him get into his.


  • "Fascinating...[Simms] believes that, despite the attention Hitler has received, there is an unknown Hitler that other biographers and historians have missed-the Hitler who spent his political career grappling with the emergence of America as the dominant power of the 20th century. After reading Hitler: A Global Biography, one has to agree. A thought-provoking guide to seeing what happens when dictators read America wrong."—Arthur Herman, Wall Street Journal
  • "This vivid and painstakingly researched volume revises fundamentally how historians ought to view the geopolitical motivations of the Nazi leader. Simms argues that Hitler did not see the Soviet Union as the primary obstacle to his expansionist ambitions. From the start, his real enemies were the United Kingdom and the United States.... Engaging and essential reading for anyone interested in Hitler's policymaking."—Foreign Affairs
  • "A powerful new biography."—Timothy Snyder, New York Times
  • "[Hitler] challenges some of our longstanding ideas about the man who ruled Nazi Germany between 1933 and 1945...Highly provocative."—Financial Times
  • "[Simms] builds on previous scholarship to make a bold thesis-that Hitler's principal obsession was not communism but rather 'Anglo-America' and global capitalism...A vigorous, original study that adds to the ongoing scholarship."—Kirkus
  • "A radically new assessment of the Fuhrer's world view and the motivation for his plunging the world into a terminal struggle for survival."—Daily Mail
  • "Simms...challeng[es] much recent scholarship...A preoccupation with Anglo-American capitalism, he contends, drove the Third Reich's ideology in its formative years, more than the oft-cited obsession with Bolshevism...He has made sound use of the Bavarian archives."—Observer
  • "If many Hitler books are scarcely worth reading, this one commands attention through its originality and sheer intelligence...A thoroughly thought-provoking, stimulating biography which all historians of the Third Reich will have to take seriously."—Irish Times
  • "Impressive and intriguing...By drawing our attention to the centrality of historical emigration to Hitler's racial vision of a Great Germany, Simms adds a new dimension to our understanding of the thinking that drove history's most notorious figure. Crisply written and well-researched, there is much in this book that enlightens and stimulates."—The Interpreter
  • "Simms argues forcefully that [Hitler's] primary motivation was a fear that Germany would be crushed by the Anglo-Saxon capitalism epitomised by the US and the British Empire."—History Today
  • "A worthwhile reexamination of some long-standing assumptions about the Third Reich...Thought-provoking."—National Review
  • "This vigorously researched book will no doubt spark controversy for its bold thesis, but Simms delivers. His revisionist thesis...is backed with solid evidence from the Bavarian archives, making this a must read."—Choice
  • "A pathbreaking and elegantly written account of Hitler and his foreign policy that is rooted in the existing literature but goes beyond it to make new claims. Simms marshals considerable evidence to show that Hitler was more preoccupied with a worldwide struggle with America and Britain then he was by Jews and Bolshevism. His claims of Aryan racial superiority masked concerns about German inferiority; he hoped to improve the 'racial stock' by positive as well as negative eugenics. Simms rejects revisionist claims that see Hitler's foreign policy as constrained or compelled by German society and institutions. A must read for anyone interested in the Third Reich and the long shadow it cast over the 20th century."—Richard Ned Lebow, professor of War Studies, King's College London
  • "Brendan Simms has a bold hypothesis -- that it was Hitler's fixation on the United States and Great Britain, and his fear of German decay and degeneracy that drove his strategic thinking and behavior, and he argues it with exceptional eloquence and force. This fascinating book will force us to rethink the strategy of the Second World War in a way that none other has in more than a generation."—Eliot Cohen, Robert E. Osgood Professor of Strategic Studies at the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University
  • "After more than 100,000 publications on the evil of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi responsibility for Second World War, it is difficult to offer much new. But Brendan Simms has written a provocatively novel interpretation of the ascendance of Hitler, and why he prompted and lost a global war: his Hitler was always driven more by envy and fear of Anglo-American capitalists than fright of the Soviet Bolsheviks-and more from worries about the comparative inferiority of the German Volk than from arrogance about its purported superiority. Enthralling and enlightening revisionist history at its best."—Victor Davis Hanson, author of The Second World Wars
  • "Combining intellectual verve with gravity, this analytical biography's tightly integrated arguments are based on prodigious research and original conceptualizations. Often gripping, the book's fresh thinking concerning Hitler's anxieties about Anglo-America and the qualities of Germany's population directs readers to reconsider established perceptions about his intentions, motivations, and behavior."—Ira Katznelson, author of Fear Itself: The New Deal and the Origins of Our Time

On Sale
Oct 1, 2019
Page Count
704 pages
Basic Books

Brendan Simms

Brendan Simms

About the Author

Brendan Simms is a professor in the history of international relations and fellow at Cambridge. He is the author of many books, including Europe and Hitler. He lives in Cambridge, UK.

Charlie Laderman is a senior lecturer in international history in the war studies department at King’s College, London. He is the author of books on US-UK foreign policy, including Sharing the Burden. He lives in London.

Learn more about this author