At the age of twenty-four, in 1913, Adolf Hitler was eking out a living as a painter of pictures for tourists in Munich. Nothing marked him in any way as exceptional, but he did possess certain distinguishing characteristics: a capacity to hate, an inability to accept criticism, and a massive overconfidence in his own abilities. He was a socially and emotionally inadequate individual without direction, from whence came a sense of personal mission that would transform these weaknesses and liabilities into strengths—certainties that would provide him not only with a sense of identity, but of purpose in a communal enterprise. This is the focus of Laurence Rees’s social, psychological, and historical investigation into a personality that would end up articulating the hopes and dreams of millions of Germans.
(With 16 pages of black-and-white illustrations)