ARC Book Review: Goebbels: A Biography

Goebbels A Biography CoverBook: Goebbels: A Biography by Petere Longerich, translated by Alan Bance, Jeremy Noakes & Lesley Sharpe

Expected Publication is October 14, 2014 by Random House: Expected Number Of Pages: 920

Where I Got It: netgalley.com, which hasn’t influenced my review in any way.  Promise!

Series: None

Genre: Adult Nonfiction- History/World War 2/Nazi Germany/Holocaust

You can find Goebbels: A Biography on goodreads

Goodreads Summary: 

From renowned German Holocaust historian Peter Longerich comes the definitive one-volume biography of Adolf Hitler’s malevolent minister of propaganda.

In life, and in the grisly manner of his death, Joseph Goebbels was one of Adolf Hitler’s most loyal acolytes. By the end, no one in the Berlin bunker was closer to the Führer than his devoted Reich minister for public enlightenment and propaganda. But how did this clubfooted son of a factory worker rise from obscurity to become Hitler’s most trusted lieutenant and personally anointed successor?

In this ground-breaking biography, Peter Longerich sifts through the historical record—and thirty thousand pages of Goebbels’s own diary entries—to provide the answer to that question. Longerich, the first historian to make use of the Goebbels diaries in a biographical work, engages and challenges the self-serving portrait the propaganda chief left behind. Spanning thirty years, the diaries paint a chilling picture of a man driven by a narcissistic desire for recognition who found the personal affirmation he craved within the virulently racist National Socialist movement. Delving into the mind of his subject, Longerich reveals how Goebbels’s lifelong search for a charismatic father figure inexorably led him to Hitler, to whom he ascribed almost godlike powers.

This comprehensive biography documents Goebbels’s ascent through the ranks of the Nazi Party, where he became a member of the Führer’s inner circle and launched a brutal campaign of anti-Semitic propaganda. Though endowed with near-dictatorial control of the media—film, radio, press, and the fine arts—Longerich’s Goebbels is a man dogged by insecurities and beset by bureaucratic infighting. He feuds with his bitter rivals Hermann Göring and Alfred Rosenberg, unsuccessfully advocates for a more radical line of “total war,” and is thwarted in his attempt to pursue a separate peace with the Allies during the waning days of World War II. This book also reveals, as never before, Goebbels’s twisted personal life—his mawkish sentimentality, manipulative nature, and voracious sexual appetite.

A harrowing look at the life of one of history’s greatest monsters, Goebbels delivers fresh insight into how the Nazi message of hate was conceived, nurtured, and disseminated. This complete portrait of the man behind that message is sure to become a standard for historians and students of the Holocaust for decades to come.

What I Thought:

I’m definitely fascinated with World War 2, especially with Nazi Germany, so when I was intrigued by this biography of Goebbels when I saw it on netgalley.  I know the name and that he was charge of propaganda, but other than that, I didn’t know anything, so I definitely wanted to learn more about him.

This biography is definitely daunting and very, very detailed- it’s an astounding  900+ pages, and it was definitely a marathon of a book.  Nothing really jumped out at me as particularly interesting, other than Goebbels studied philosophy and that he was loyal to Hitler, to the point of murdering his children before taking his own life.  I feel like, at the end of the book, I knew as much about him as I did before I started the book.

It’s definitely dense (and on the dry side) and I had to fight the urge to skim the book (which I maybe did at certain points throughout the book).  I don’t know that it’s the best book for someone who doesn’t know much about Goebbels, and since it leans more to the scholarly end of things, it might be better suited for people who are really into World World 2 and Nazi Germany (especially those close to Hitler).

This biography really goes into depth about Goebbels and why he did the things he did, and what made him tick.  It’s also a really good look at some of what was going on during that time, because of his journals.  It’s also why it’s a slow read, because it’s very meticulous.

 Let’s Rate It:

This biography is definitely not a book for everyone, but still worth checking out for historians and students or for anyone studying the Holocaust or the Nazi’s (or World War 2).  Goebbels: A Biography gets 2 stars.

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