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Takeover

Hardcover / ISBN-13: 9781035417728

Price: £25

ON SALE: 26th March 2024

Genre: Humanities / History / Military History / Second World War

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From the internationally acclaimed author of Hitler’s Private Library, a dramatic recounting of the six critical months before Adolf Hitler assumed power, when the Nazi leader teetered between triumph and ruin.

In the summer of 1932, the Weimar Republic was on the verge of collapse. One in three Germans was unemployed. Violence was rampant. Hitler’s National Socialists surged at the polls. Paul von Hindenburg, an aging war hero and avowed monarchist, was a reluctant president bound by oath to uphold the constitution. The November elections offered Hitler the prospect of a Reichstag majority and a path to political power. But instead, the Nazis lost two million votes. As membership hemorrhaged and financial backers withdrew, the Nazi Party threatened to fracture. Hitler talked of suicide. The New York Times declared he was finished. Yet somehow, in a few brief weeks, he was chancellor of Germany.

In fascinating detail and with previously un-accessed archival materials, Timothy W. Ryback tells the remarkable story of Hitler’s dismantling of democracy through the democratic process. He provides a fresh perspective and insights into Hitler’s personal and professional lives in these months, in all their complexity and uncertainty-backroom deals, unlikely alliances, stunning betrayals, an ill-timed tax audit, and a fateful weekend that changed our world forever. Above all, Ryback makes clear why a wearied Hindenburg, who disdained the “Bohemian corporal,” ultimately decided to appoint Hitler chancellor in January 1933.

Within weeks, Germany was no longer a democracy.

Reviews

Timothy Ryback has written an engrossing clock-ticker of a narrative about the behind-the-scenes machinations and open politicking that vaulted Hitler and the Nazi Party to power. Nothing was inevitable about their triumph, and plenty of contemporary observers were caught off guard by it, as Ryback shows to chilling effect. The relevance to authoritarianism today is urgent and unmistakable. Takeover is a vital read for anyone who cares about the future of democracy.
Margaret Talbot, staff writer, The New Yorker
If you ever thought that history is moved only by big, sweeping forces, whether of economics or creed or nature itself, think again. In this riveting, intimate account of the final months in Hitler's rise to power, Timothy Ryback makes it plain that simple luck, bald ambition, and fallible human hearts can be drivers of earth-changing events.
Max Rodenbeck, Berlin bureau chief, The Economist
It is a brilliant, stunning achievement. I was absolutely thrilled, gripped, and horrified by what was unfolding before my eyes. And so much of it was new to me. Of course I knew the story but the detail is so vivid - the reader is swept along by every twist and turn - it's like being in the room, in the car, on the plane, at the meetings... And even though one knows the horrible outcome, right up to the very last pages of the final chapter, it seems impossible that the evil little man will ever become Chancellor. In the final row - with Hindenburg kept waiting - hope springs eternal, and is shouting 'don't do it. don't do it, don't do it! ' I feel completely wrung out. I shan't sleep tonight. I must go and make a sandwich as I find I'm starving. I am still in my pyjamas - having started this morning I could not ever break off to shave and dress. I cannot find words of praise sufficient - the clarity and drive of the text is astonishing.
Mike Poulton, award-winning dramatist who adapted Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies for the stage
Timothy W. Ryback tells a grippingly important tale. His meticulous detailing of the dramatic days before Hitler assumed power make for salutary reading in our times. Will the tragic failure of civil courage and political will be repeated - Germany 1933, America 2024? It's hard not to imagine.
Philippe Sands
How does a flawed republic become something entirely different? We know how the Nazi regime ended, but we think too little about how it began. This admirable account shows us how fragile and avoidable were those beginnings and helps us to reflect upon our own predicament.
Timothy Snyder, author of On Tyranny