from the publisher:
When the famous German author Sebastian Haffner died at the age of ninety-one in 1999, a manuscript was discovered among his unpublished papers. The book was begun in 1939, but with the advent of World War II, Haffner had set it aside. His family made the decision to publish it, and the result is Defying Hitler: A Memoir. Spanning the period from 1907 to 1933, it offers a unique perspective on the rise of Hitler and the growing influence of Nazism, and anticipates much of what was to unfold in the ensuing years.
Haffner's personal memories form the basis for questioning, analyzing, and interpreting German history and culture. His astute and compelling eye-witness accounts provide a broad overview of a country in a constant state of flux. He examines the pervasive influence of groups such as the Free Corps -- the right-wing voluntary military force, set up to suppress the revolution of 1918, that would provide training for many of those who were to become Nazi storm troopers -- and the Hitler Youth movement which swept the nation. His own family's financial struggles illustrate the disaster that befell many of Germany's citizens during the apocalyptic year of 1923, when inflation devastated the country. The later peaceful but dangerously uninspiring Stresemann years contributed still further to Hitler's rise to power. Haffner elucidates how the average educated German grappled with a rapidly changing society, while chronicling day-to-day changes in attitudes, beliefs, politics, and prejudices.
A major best-seller in Germany now available for the first time in English, and including new chapters recently unearthed by a historian working in the German state archives, Defying Hitler is a highly illuminating portrait of a time, a place, and a people.
"A remarkable account, dug out of a drawer, about daily life in Germany during the rise of Nazism . . . Deserves a wide readership elsewhere in the world." --Kirkus Reviews (starred)Sebastian Haffner was born in Berlin in 1907. In 1938 he emigrated to England and a few years later began writing for The Observer. He returned to Germany in 1954 and became the best-selling author of, among other works, The Rise and Fall of Prussia, Failure of a Revolution: Germany 1918-1919, and The Meaning of Hitler. He died in 1999.
"A short, stabbing, brilliant book . . . It is important, first, as evidence of what one intelligent German knew in the 1930s about the unspeakable nature of Nazism, at a time when the overwhelming majority of his countrymen claim to have know nothing at all. And, second, for its rare capacity to reawaken anger about those who made the Nazis possible." --Max Hastings, The Sunday Telegraph
"Unsurpassable . . . Wonderfully written . . .There is an exceptional literary power in what he writes . . . Haffner's brief autobiography is replete with historical insights, expressed with a lightness of touch and a literary verve." --Richard Overy, Literary Review
"The most important book of the year." --Richard Kammerlings, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
"Sebastian Haffner was Germany's political conscience, but it is only now that we can read how he experienced the Nazi terror himself - that is a memoir of frightening relavance today." --Heinrich Jaenicke, Stern
"An electrifying discovery." --Volker Ullrich, Die Zeit
"Reviewers call it the book of the year; readers have made it a best-seller." --Reinhard Mohr, Der Spiegel