Adolf Hitler

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Critical Context

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Last Updated on May 8, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 269

Since the death of Hitler in 1945, many biographies have been written about him and many memoirs of his confidants and contemporaries have been published for the adult market. Yet fewer biographies of Hitler have been published for young adult readers. It is a formidable enough task of any biographer to present a recognized villain under study as objectively as possible while creating an interesting character based on documentation. The task of writing that same biography for young adults places strenuous requirements on authors, as the general public often considers biographies to provide role models.

Some of those books aimed at the adult reader have been based on sources that embrace the “Hitler myth.” In reality, this view—which advocates that Hitler was personally sincere and was deliberately not informed of atrocities within the Nazi regime—finds little acceptance among historians and leading biographers of the period, such as Bullock, Toland, and Fest. Dolan’s Adolf Hitler does not embrace this view or try to create a fictional character that is unlike the real man.

Critics who favor a one-dimensional characterization of Hitler as a demon may find Dolan’s balanced presentation disconcerting. Those who see the Hitler myth as revisionist history may choose to label the book lacking in scholarship. Yet the author, respecting the intelligence of young adult readers and their ability to evaluate critically, does not gloss over either Hitler’s successes or the atrocities that he committed. Instead, he provides historical background for situations and interjects thought-provoking questions. Throughout the biography, he challenges readers to consider the historical situation and to make applications to current affairs.

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