Published by The Teaching Company
12 audio lectures by Professor Thomas Childers, University of Pennsylvania
Though not technically a book, I thought this recent addition to my library well worth a review anyway. If you're not familiar with The Teaching Company or The Great Courses, please allow me to introduce you! The Teaching Company provides college-level courses in subjects ranging from mathematics, astronomy, and chemistry, to both ancient and recent history, literature, music, art, and more. The courses are arranged in 30-45 minute lectures on CD or DVD, and taught by hand-selected professors from universities all over the world. While there is no credit offered for taking these courses, you still receive excellent information and education for a minute fraction of the cost of getting the same course in an actual university.
As for A History of Hitler's Empire specifically, I have nothing but good to say. Professor Childers did a fabulous job of explaining in great detail the exact process by which Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party came to power in Germany - something that no one had ever explained satisfactorily to me before. Most history books and classes just cut straight to "Meanwhile, in Germany, Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party had come to power and began..." without ever explaining how they actually got into power. That has always frustrated me to no end. But now, thanks to this course, I actually get it! Professor Childers goes into great detail explaining how the party came to power, how they operated, as well as banishing many common misconceptions and misunderstandings.
While the lectures do keep track of what was taking place on a global scale throughout the Nazi regime's reign of terror, Professor Childers keeps the focus very much centered on the regime itself: what was taking place within the ranks, what concerns were on Hitler's mind, what his plans and goals were.
Towards the end of the lecture, as the topic of discussion began moving more towards what is to be taken away and learned from all of this, I became a little concerned. Considering the touchy-feely political correctness of our day, I wasn't sure what sort of 'takeaway' advice or thoughts the professor would conclude with. I was extremely impressed and am happy to report, however, that his conclusions were completely spot-on. He entreats his listeners to be vigilant - it was lack of vigilance, after all, that allowed the Nazi regime to come to power. He encourages his listeners to stand up for the rights of every people group, no matter how seemingly insignificant, because if a tyrant gets away with violating one person's rights, he'll soon be coming after yours, too.
I've already told my entire family that they need to listen to these lectures for themselves (I wouldn't recommend it for young children, obviously, due to the nature of the subject), and I'll tell you the same thing. Find yourself a copy of this course and listen to it. Your understanding of the Nazi regime will increase amazingly.