American Eyewitnesses to the Nazi Rise to Power

Hitler’s rise to power, Germany’s march to the abyss, as seen through the eyes of Americans—diplomats, military, expats, visiting authors, Olympic athletes—who watched horrified and up close. By tapping a rich vein of personal testimonies, Hitlerland offers a gripping narrative full of surprising twists—and a startlingly fresh perspective on this heavily dissected era.

an entertaining chronicle
The Economist
...a fascinating account of a fateful era.
Henry Kissinger
...fresh, compelling portrait of Nazi Germany...
Lynne Olson
Anne Applebaum
a guilty pleasure... fascinating
The Washington Post
...a multidimensional view of the tyrant
Publisher's Weekly
Kirkus Reviews
riveting...full of things I never knew
Michael Korda, The Daily Beast
...harrowing and vividly drawn mosaic of eyewitness accounts...
Gordon M Goldstein
Essential for anyone interested in World War II
Library Journal

Hitler's rise to power, Germanys march to the abyss, as seen by Americans-diplomats, military, expats, visiting authors, Olympic athletes who watched horrified and up close. Some of the Americans in Hitler's Germany were merely casual observers, others deliberately blind, a few were Nazi apologists. But most began slowly to understand what was unfolding, even when they found it difficult to grasp the breadth of the catastrophe.

Among the journalists, William Shirer understood what was happening. Edgar Mowrer, Dorothy Thompson, and Sigrid Schultz, reporters, were alarmed. Consul General George Messersmith distinguished. Truman Smith, the first American official to meet Hitler, was an astute political observer. Historian William Dodd, who FDR tapped as ambassador in Berlin, left disillusioned; his daughter Martha scandalized the embassy with her procession of lovers, Nazis she took up with; she ended as a Soviet spy.

On the scene were George Kennan, the architect of containment; Richard Helms, who rose to the top of the CIA. The writers Sinclair Lewis and Thomas Wolfe, famed aviator Charles Lindbergh, and the great athlete Jesse Owens came through Germany; so did a younger generation of journalists Richard Hottelet, Hans V. Kaltenborn, Howard K. Smith, and Ed Murrow.

These Americans helped their reluctant countrymen begin to understand Nazi Germany as it ruthlessly eliminated political opponents, instilled hatred of Jews and anyone deemed a member of an inferior race, and readied its military and its people for a war for global domination. They helped prepare Americans for the years of struggle ahead.

Elena Holodny

When it comes to Nazi Germany, one of the biggest questions most people have is how a country like Germany could transform into the disturbing and destructive state that it became under Adolf Hitler. And how did no one see it coming?

So, in "...

Cicero Magazine

Your book Hitlerland chronicles the lives of Americans who witnessed first-hand the Nazis’ rise to power. What drew the Americans you write about to Berlin?

Berlin in the 1920s was a wild place, where everything about life played out on the extremes. Even the sex...

Reed Omara

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Mark Safranski

Recent cyber problems here at ZP (as well as work commitments) have left me with an enormous backlog of book-related posts and reviews with which to wade through this month, including re-starting the aborted “friends of zenpundit.com who wrote books” posts.  Here is the first of what...

Shoshana Bryen

Asking readers not to think about World War II in a book about the rise of Hitler is a tall order. But if you can read the public and private correspondence of American diplomats and journalists in Berlin between the wars as they were written—as contemporaneous commentary—Andrew...

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For more reviews from Kirkus, visit www.kirkusreviews.com.


Elliot Jager


Some cataclysmic events occur with the speed of a train wreck; others unfold over a period of months or even years. Nassim Nicholas Taleb's 2007 sardonic bestseller The Black Swan put forth the proposition that the more earth shattering the event the less likely are news...

Jim Cullen


Jim Cullen, who teaches at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School in New York, is a book review editor atHNN. His new book, Sensing thePast: Hollywood Stars and Historical Visions, is slated for publication by Oxford University Press later this year. Cullen blogs at...

Tom Dillon


A terrible history in the making

Would we recognize evil if we saw it walking around? Tom Dillon, a veteran newsman himself, takes a look at a book about American journalists and others who witnessed firsthand the rise of Hitler’s Nazi Germany.



A contextually rich look at the buildup of Nazi power, revealing the feebleness of Americans’ assessment of the future danger.

In these seemingly casual impressions recorded in newspapers, letters, magazines, diaries and diplomatic reports, many Americans...

Jim Carnett


Human beings exhibit a remarkable capacity for positing head-scratching "what ifs."

What if I'd been born in County Cork instead of Orange County? What if I stood 6-foot-5 instead of 5-foot-6? (Actually, I'm 5 8½.)

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James Boylan


As Adolf Hitler trans-formed himself from a failed regional politician to the most feared tyrant of the 20th century, Americans were on hand to observe, report, and warn. Andrew Nagorski, a Newsweek veteran and now head of a public-policy think tank, has ingeniously stitched...

Sonny Bunch


Evil on Parade: What were Americans thinking about the Third Reich?

The common counterfactual as it relates to Hitler is somewhat fantastical: If you could go back in time and kill the Austrian madman before he ascended to Germany’s chancellorship, would you...


Without hindsight: How many saw what was coming?

SOME books about Nazi Germany prompt the question, “What would I have done?” Readers of “Hitlerland” may instead ask, “What would I have thought?” Andrew Nagorski has written an entertaining chronicle of the...

Tina Brown


By Andrew Nagorski

As the cloud descended on Europe, some of America’s brightest...

James J. Sheehan


Unlike most books about Americans abroad, Andrew Nagorski’s Hitlerland is less interested in the Americans themselves than in what they saw or didn’t see while they were away from home. Once the Nazis come onstage, everyone else tends to become a minor player, and...

Commander Youssef Aboul-Enein, MSC, USN


Andrew Nagorski is an award-winning journalist and vice-president of the EastWest Institute, think tank based in New York that seeks ways to contribute to the debate on ways to forge global peace. Nagorski has a special talent for bringing to life World War II in a way that is...

Walter Russell Mead

Public opinion plays an immense role in the development of American foreign policy, but the question of how Americans form their impressions of foreign leaders and regimes has not received the attention it deserves. Nagorski’s brisk and engaging account of American encounters with Nazi Germany...

Neal Gendler


What did Americans know about Hitler, Nazis and abuse of Jews before the war?

If they read certain newspapers or heard Edward R. Morrow’s roundup of CBS European correspondents, they could have known a lot. But Andrew Nagorski’s...

Dave Henderson


A Review of “Hitlerland: American Eyewitnesses to the Nazi Rise to Power”

The tale of Hitler’s rise to power still strikes many of us as an anomaly. How could such a man have taken control of a modern, civilized nation and led it over the precipice of total...

Gerhard L. Weinberg


How did American newspaper and radio correspondents and other travelers see Germany as the Nazi movement struggled to obtain power before 1933, and how did they see and report on it from Hitler’s becoming chancellor until Germany went to war with the United States? Readers...

Rand Richards Cooper


Think “Americans in Paris,” and your mind conjures a romance of the years between the wars: Scott and Zelda, Josephine Baker, the luminous recollections of Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast. Americans in Berlin? Not so much.

Yet Americans were in Hitler’s Germany...



Why? How? Who hasn’t posed these questions when learning about Adolph Hitler, Nazism’s demonic agendas, and the passivity of world powers like the United States in the face of Germany’s aggressive militancy? In...

Katja Ridderbusch


Andrew Nagorski: "Hitlerland" - American Eyewitnesses to the Nazi Rise to Power, Simon & Schuster

Kursiv international

Von Katja Ridderbusch

In seinem Buch "Hitlerland" erzählt der amerikanische Journalist Andrew...

USA Today


What should you read this weekend? USA TODAY's book picks for the weekend include a revealing look at the little-known "Presidents Club," and two works of fiction tied to the Titanic anniversary.

Hitlerland: American Eyewitnesses to the Nazi Rise to Power...

Jocelyn McClurg


Promiscuous (and, for a time, Nazi-loving) Martha Dodd and her stoic father, Willam Dodd, the U.S. ambassador to Germany in the 1930s, are now posthumous superstars thanks to...

Michael D. Mosettig


The adventures of Americans in London and Paris in the 1920s and1930s have often been chronicled and lionized. Curiously, the experiences of Americans in Berlin in those inter-war years have received attention in inverse proportion to Berlin’s centrality in shaping those very...



Tina Brown, editor of The Daily Beast and Newsweek, tells us what she's been reading in a feature that Morning Edition likes to call "Word of Mouth." This month, Brown has been thinking about the contributions of journalists to global culture.

The Rise Of...

Elliot Jager


Some cataclysmic events occur with the speed of a train wreck; others unfold over months or even years.  Nassim Nicholas Taleb's 2007 bestseller The Black Swanargues that the more earth-shattering the event, the less likely that the press will provide an early warning.  A...

Christopher Dickey

The story of the Americans who cavorted with the Nazis.

I have never felt quite so horribly intimate with the Führer as I did when reading ...

Liz Smith


"THE TIMES in which we live move too fast for the considered historian to record them. They move too quickly to permit the writing of long books about momentary phases. Ours is the age of the reporter."

If you think that is a recent quote, a comment on our...

Michael N. Dobkowski


Award-winning journalist Andrew Nagorski looks at the years leading up to Hitler’s rise to power, the run-up to war, and the Holocaust through the observations and personal testimonies of American diplomats, military attachés, journalists, authors, and Olympic athletes who...

Jim Cullen


Hitlerland: American Eyewitnesses to the Nazi Rise to Power. Andrew Nagorski. Simon and Shuster, 2011. 400 pages.

Hitlerland: a term coined in the Berlin-based 1930s by International News Service writer Pierre John Huss to describe Nazi Germany. Huss. Huss,...


“Hitlerland” by Andrew Nagorski relays the years up to and during World War 2, told from the view points of various Americans who had the front row seats to the Germany drama playing out right in front of them. In the book, Nagorski compiles the narratives of American...

Jocelyn McClurg


We scope out the hottest books on sale the week of March 11.

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What it's about: This first novel revolves around five surgeons at...

Steve Kaufman


On nearly every page of Andrew Nagorski's "Hitlerland," you might find yourself shouting into the book, "No, stop him now!" Unfortunately, there's no point in shouting. The damage had already been done, decades ago. And who was to stop Adolf Hitler, anyway? American diplomats...


From the legacy of British colonialism and the possibility of Hitler's assassination to Turkey's role in the Arab Middle East and Afghanistan's cotton fields, The Globalist Bookshelf crisscrossed the world and spanned centuries of history in 2012. As a year-end special, we...

Duff McKagan

Yep, here we go again. 2013 will undoubtedly have the same ups and downs as every year: politics, births, deaths, crime, celebration, war, recession and economic upturn, mega-mergers, and downsizing. The only real changes we can look forward to with no collateral damage are in arts and culture....

Michael Korda


The amazing story of the American journalists and socialites who were charmed by the Nazis as they rose to power. Michael Korda reviews Andrew Nagorski’s Hitlerland.

—Evelyn Waugh: Scoop    



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