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Hitlerland: American Eyewitnesses to the Nazi Rise to Power

We know about Americans in Paris and London, and even something about Americans in Russia. But no one has thoroughly explored the lives and views of Americans who were in Germany in the 1920s and 1930s, how they witnessed the collapse of the Weimar Republic and the rise of Hitler. That is, until now. By tapping a rich vein of personal testimonies, Hitlerland offers a startlingly fresh perspective on this heavily dissected era. Through the lives and observations of American diplomats, journalists, entertainers and an assortment of visitors, the reader is plunged back into a nightmarish time when everyone was guessing about Hitler’s plans for Germany and the world.

Hitlerland features an array of fascinating characters. Along with famous figures like Philip Johnson, Thomas Wolfe, Charles Lindbergh and William Shirer, they include: Truman Smith, the junior American military attaché who became the first U.S. official to meet Hitler as early as 1922; Ernst “Putzi” Hanfstaengl, the Harvard-educated propagandist for Hitler, who was of mixed German and American parentage, and his wife Helen, an American who may have prevented Hitler from committing suicide; Martha Dodd, the daughter of U.S. ambassador William Dodd, who carried on affairs with Nazis and later with a Soviet spy.

Some of these and other American eyewitnesses were insightful and courageous; others were politically blind and, at times, apologists for the Nazis. Taken together, their stories blend into a gripping narrative full of surprising twists. They also suggest why Hitler was so often underestimated until it was too late.

“Andrew Nagorski has written an entertaining chronicle…‘Hitlerland’ brings back to life some early delusions about Hitler’s rise that now seem unthinkable. Any reader trying to puzzle out today’s world will be unsettled by the reminder of how easy it is to get things wrong.”
—The Economist

“riveting….this is a book that is full of things I never knew, and I found all of them interesting. It should be on everybody’s ‘must read’ list who is interested in history.”
—The Daily Beast, Michael Korda

"Hitlerland is a bit of guilty pleasure... fascinating."
—Washington Post

"Compulsively readable and deeply researched"
—The Weekly Standard

"A compelling work for World War II history buffs or anyone who wants to understand how such devastating evil emerged while the world seemingly watched"
—Library Journal

"An engrossing study of the times made more fascinating and incredible in retrospect...contextually rich...[a] well marshaled study."

“Andrew Nagorski, a deft storyteller, has plumbed the dispatches, diaries, letters, and interviews of American journalists, diplomats and others who were present in Berlin to write a fascinating account of a fateful era.”
—Henry Kissinger

“Andrew Nagorski once again turns his perceptive, seasoned foreign correspondent's eye to a dramatic historical subject. This eye-opening account of the Americans in 1920s and 1930s Berlin offers a totally new perspective on a subject we thought we already knew. “
—Anne Applebaum, author of Gulag: A History

About the Author:
Award-winning journalist Andrew Nagorski is vice president and director of public policy at the EastWest Institute, a New York-based international affairs think tank. During a long career at Newsweek, he served as the magazine’s bureau chief in Hong Kong, Moscow, Rome, Bonn, Warsaw and Berlin, and later as senior editor for its foreign language editions. He is the author of four previous books and has written for countless publications. He lives in Pelham Manor, New York.

Important places

Munich (237)


Bayern (604)
Berlin (904)


Germany (3,818)