Hitler’s Private Library

Hitler’s Private Library
Timothy W. Ryback

The starting point for this latest attempt at understanding Adolf Hitler is a playful comment by Walter Benjamin to the effect that a book collection actually contains and preserves the personality of the collector. And so, using his researches into the surviving collections of Hitler’s personal libraries, Timothy Ryback provides a biography in books. Unfortunately, the absence of any significant marginalia makes it hard to draw meaningful conclusions. In addition, the idea that these books shaped Hitler’s life is misleading. By the time he started collecting books, Hitler’s “reading” (he tended to skim) only complemented or filled out a mental framework already set in place.