Kicking off a new series about History’s Worst, a middle-grade survey of Adolf Hitler and World War II.
Buckley covers Hitler’s childhood, youth, service during World War I, takeover of the German Workers’ Party and subsequent transformation to the Nazi Party, seizure of power, World War II, and the Holocaust. Buckley’s overuse of adverbs and reliance on clichés results in such trite statements as “Measuring his failure against his friend’s success, Hitler basically fell off the map” and “World War I had begun and, believe it or not, Hitler was overjoyed.” Discussing the purge known as the “Night of the Long Knives,” Buckley writes, “If people had not been scared of Hitler before, these actions pushed their fear level off the charts.” His descriptions of historical, ideological, and political complexities are vague and frequently misleading. Readers may well end up believing the Freikorps was a single unit when, in fact, they were multiple, autonomous anti-communist paramilitary units organized during the Weimar Republic. Mein Kampf is characterized as “like a to-do list for taking and holding power but with an awful, racist twist.” The Nazi-Soviet Nonaggression Pact is described “as if dogs and cats had signed an agreement saying they would never fight again.” Compared to such exemplars as James Cross Giblin’s The Life and Death of Adolf Hitler, this biography, even though for a younger audience, falls far short.
A shoddily constructed, clumsily written biography that does a disservice to its audience. (timeline, source notes) (Biography. 8-12)