Review By Martin Koenigsberg

This is an interesting book in Ballantine’s Illustrated History of the Violent Century series, number 22 of their “War Leader” subseries. Written by Alan Wykes, a stalwart of the series’ stable with a focus on WWII in Western Europe, the book starts with the assassination attempt by Czech operatives for SOE- and then works backward through the life of the creator of the Gestapo and one of the architects of the Final Solution. Written in 1973, before the Ultra Revelations and before Soviet Archives were partially shared at the end of the Cold War, this book still gets all the broad strokes- the evil and the venality -while it shows its age at other times. It is a chilling read- but seeing the face of past evil is an important part of recognizing new evil when you encounter it. Wykes makes a great deal of Heydrich’s Jewish Grandmother – possibly an heiress who brought wealth to the family- as the motivating force behind Heydrich’s passage from cultured Naval Officer to brutal Nazi gangster. He sees Himmler holding it over the younger more energetic social climber- and Heydrich going to extremes to prove his Naziness. I’m not so sure- seeing more of a sociopath unleashed by another sociopath with a heavy touch of sadism dropped in. Heydrich liked to be in the torture/murder rooms- the cruelty was the point. One remembers that Wykes was writing for a world where these crimes were less than 30 years old- and most people knew they had happened. Today- with those memories fading- even more important to understand the Nazi methods and their leadership. There are a lot of adult themes, and some descriptions of torture and murder campaigns, so this a book for the Junior Reader over about 13/14 years. For the Gamer/Modeler/Military Enthusiast its a very mixed bag. RPG players might appreciate a better understanding of how the Gestapo began- but otherwise not seeing much use. Modelers get shut out- although there are a lot b/w of pics in the classic Ballantine’s style. The Military Enthusiast may find this dive into the inner politics of the Nazi regime interesting- but it’s really more criminal and political. i think there is still some value in reading this book , although there are newer, more authoritative books on the topic. The general reader will find this a readable format for non-fiction- with this book a good example of the overall series. #WhatAreYouReading #BookReviews #20thCenturyHistory #MilitaryHistory #NaziHistory #GermanHistory #Gestapo #SS #Himmler #ConcentrationCamps #FinalSolution #HolocaustHistory #CzechHistory #WargameResearch #Heydrich #AlanWykes #WarLeaderBookNo22 #BallantinesIllustratedHistoryOfTheViolentCentury #NightOfTheLongKnives #SA #BergenBelsen #DeathCamps #Interrogation #OperationAnthropoid #SOE #BoltAction #FlamesOfWar #WorldWarIIWargaming

Leave a Comment

You have to agree to the comment policy.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.