THERE HAS BEEN a slackening of interest in the Nazis since the events of 11 September 2001 and their aftermath kicked the Third Reich firmly into the realm of history and presented us with paradigms of evil that are somewhat more pertinent and closer to home. Nevertheless, Hitler continues to be a source of fascination and perplexity and usually elicits strong opinions. All the authors u nd er consideration here articulate a personal agenda that sets their writing apart from the clinical approach of recent scholarship. I n the case of Traudl Junge, who was an eyewitness to history, it would be perverse to expect anything else; but Anthony Read and John Cornwell are experienced chroniclers and it is disappointing that they seem closed to new ways of approaching the Nazi past.
Cornwell begins promisingly with a lively discussion of theories that seek to explain the Nazi mentality. Were they, as Hannah Arendt suggested of Eichmann, m.indless technocrats who were so absorbed in the minu tiae of their jobs and so conscientiously