This is the second volume of Richard Evans’s magisterial new account of the rise and fall of the Third Reich. In it he chronicles the years between 1933 and 1939 when the dictatorship was established and before the descent into war and eventual catastrophe. The question he poses at the start of the book is central to any account of the German dictatorship, namely: how was Hitler’s rule established so swiftly and so absolutely? What follows is a wide-ranging, searching and supremely intelligent assessment of the many strands of the new regime. The book displays all Evans’s familiar strengths – a broad historical vision, a solid base of research in the most up-to-date literature, and a shrewd mix of information, argument and the occasional telling example to bring the story suddenly to life.
It is difficult in a book of this length, breadth and detail to pick out the central threads. But Evans isolates two particular elements of his history that he thinks define the Hitler regime: first, the commitment to modern race science and the utopian social experiment that race science apparently