(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Dolan indicates in his preface that he is writing about a tyrant and tyranny itself not only to provide young adults with information about the past but also to empower them so that they can recognize totalitarian leadership and the conditions that sustain it. He then defines tyranny in practical terms using Hitler as the prime example.

To achieve his purpose, Dolan chooses key events and people from the period between 1889 and 1945 to reveal Hitler’s character, never allowing the reader to forget that this individual was a product of his culture and times. The book’s chronological pattern bears a striking resemblance to that used by noted historians Alan Bullock and Joachim Fest in their Hitler biographies (1964’s Hitler: A Study in Tyranny and a 1974 translation of Hitler, respectively). In fact, Dolan’s objective tone and research become evident when his book is compared to the extensive works of Bullock and Fest.

Vignettes of Hitler’s life prior to his becoming the Führer include his family relationships, his lack of success in school after moving to Linz, and his destitute existence in Vienna. Yet the author does not neglect to inform his audience that this aspiring artist refused to take the advice of the academy faculty to study architecture and that the young vagrant did not even try to obtain a job in Vienna. Although the book portrays the demagogue as a human being whose personal failures led him to seek validation through nationalism and political power, it makes no attempt to justify the actions of the adult Hitler as Nazi leader.

Frequently, Dolan adopts the role of a narrator or teacher, intruding into the book’s...

(The entire section is 692 words.)