This very well-researched and clearly-defined biography on Hitler’s rise to power focuses on a step-by-step analysis of how he pulled it off against incredible odds. In this work Ullrich dedicates a lot of effort to portraying the man as an astute, though often intemperate, political operative who artfully manipulated his way through a veritable swamp of intrigue, hatred and violence to become supreme leader. His life appears an improbable tale until you read this study and absorb how Hitler maneuvered through the intricacies of a bizarre plot-line. While a gathering conspiracy to overthrow the Weimar Republic might exist for some, Ullrich, to his credit, resists looking for it. His attention is drawn to understanding what his subject was planning to do next. To this end, the author carefully focuses on Hitler’s life as a disaffected youth, hapless tramp, emboldened private, and inspiring leader of the fledgling NSDAP in search of answers to those big questions that have forever dominated academic discussions. There are some myths out there that need to be challenged in order to get at the true nature of Hitler and his message of national greatness based on racial superiority and hatred. One, it is not likely, according to the best evidence, that Hitler was a psychologically and physically abused individual when growing up in Austria at the turn of the 20th century; maybe a bully and a narcissist with a bit of a lazy streak but that doesn’t begin to help the reader unpack his meteoric rise to power. Later, In a bigger context, Ullrich introduces us to a world of pre-WWI, where Hitler finds himself at a point where life has been reduced to surviving. He liked to read, dabble in this-or-that, and fantasize about his prospects but he eventually recognized the need to stop drifting and become organized. Becoming a German citizen and joining the army to fight in World War I is seen as that first big step to getting him off the street. What transpired over the next few years is nothing short of fascinating. He knew how to survive a terrible war, wow large crowds with his newfound oratory skills, develop ultranationalistic views, ingratiate himself with wealthy friends and patrons, and become a ‘respectable’ leader of a growing political movement, not without moments of great personal fear and loathing. After the failed Beer Hall Putsch (1923), Hitler committed himself and the party to winning power through legitimate means. Though he had definite charisma working for him in this regard, Hitler struggled to keep elements in the party from resorting to violence to gain power before the opportune moment. It would seem that many Nazis chose to read into Hitler’s thoughts, as expressed in “Mein Kampf”, an outright licence to persecute Jews. This powerful connection between leader and supporters would manifest itself all the way to the top and beyond in the form of mass rallies, festivals, and parades. Only after assuming power in 1933 do we see Hitler’s personality coming together as someone who believed his destiny had arrived. We can only understand how Hitler saw himself as Fuhrer by following his long and often painful journey that Ullrich has so effectively laid out in all its ups and downs. His time appeared to have finally come when he could order the destruction of his and Germany’s enemies, because they had become one. But there is yet another myth or illusion that Ullrich tackles by continuing to probe Hitler’s intemperate character that is still out there years later. It seems that Hitler, while succeeding in pulling off the spectacular, was always having to prove himself again and again with bigger and better feats, for both Germany and the rest of the world.