As Europe convulses over seemingly unpayable debts and other economic troubles, British novelist and journalist A.N. Wilson offers Hitler (Basic), which explores the worst byproduct of such European paroxysms.
Wilson argues that the specter of bankruptcy—personal and national—haunted the European bourgeoisie of the 19th and early 20th centuries, making capitalism’s boons seem all too tenuous. The story of how the resulting chaos fed the rise of Hitler in the 1920s and ’30s might trigger a frisson of fear that this historical episode is ripe for repetition.
Wilson argues that Hitler was not a supernaturally evil outlier but a leader who echoed the beliefs and attitudes of the masses of his time. In his 224-page book, Wilson can’t solve the mysteries of Hitler, such as how a man “almost without any skills at all” ruined a nation. But in our radically different culture, we have less to fear that economic tumult will lead to another of his kind. —Brian Doherty