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The Life and Death of Adolf Hitler

The Life and Death of Adolf Hitler Giblin, James Cross.  2002.  THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ADOLF HITLER.  New York:  Clarion Books.  ISBN 0395903718.

After explaining that the events surrounding the disposal of Adolf Hitler's body remain a mystery, Giblin spends the rest of this biography detailing how a man could become so hated that he is in danger even after death.  The text recounts the life of Hitler in a chronological manner with dates and locations carefully noted. Giblin begins with Hitler's birth in Austria in 1889, tells of the events of his young adulthood and how they shaped his thinking, and then tells of his rise to power and ultimate demise. 

Giblin writes in a straightforward style with great attention to detail.  This biography tells not only the story of Hitler, but the author also  devotes much time to explaining the political climate throughout the world at this point and how these events affected Hitler and his life. For example, Chapter 5 "The Power of Speech" goes into great detail about the end of World War I and how the terms of the Versailles treaty left Hitler feeling that his service in that war had been for naught and spurred him to political activism.  The careful explanation of the losses of Germany due to this treaty (Giblin, pp.26-27) give the reader a road map into Hitler's plans for revenge.

Woven throughout the story are carefully researched quotes from Hitler himself and others such as relatives and political insiders that give further insight and punctuate Giblin's narrative. The variety of the sources of the quotes serve to give the reader a balanced look into Hitler's world.  The extensive access features of the book further show the author's dedication to accuracy.  Included are a glossary of German words and terms, source notes and bibliography, and an index.  In the introduction to the "Source Notes and Bibliography" section, Giblin reveals his own motivation for the story and how researching and writing this book has answered questions he has held for fifty years.

An impressive aspect of this work is the way actual photographs, maps, and political cartoons of the time extend the author's words.   Very few double page spreads do not include a relevant picture, and these pictures depict many different types of scenes of the times.  Well written captions give further information that help the reader get a better sense of Hitler's story.

After telling of the horrific results of Hitler's regime, the author uses the last chapter, "Hitler Lives," to inform young readers of how the philosophies of the Nazis are still being practiced by extremist groups of today.  In his review, Sieruta labels this section of the book "chilling," and comments on Giblin's ability to "provide evidence of the despot's long shadow on today's world." This chapter rounds out the book well by showing how this book is relevant to young people today.  Giblin ends by issuing the challenge that it is up to all of us to make sure that Hitler's wishes are never realized.

Sieruta, Peter D. 2002. The life and death of Adolf Hitler (book). Horn Book Magazine 78(3). In EBSCOHost (database online). Available from  Accessed 25 February 2005.

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Graduate Student at Texas Woman's University