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The Perfect Nazi - Book Review

Updated on November 2, 2014

I first came across the book 'The Perfect Nazi' when browsing through the shelves of the History section of my local library. I've always had an interest in modern German history; it intrigues me how a country could get into such a situation where perfectly normal, respectable people can allow such atrocities to happen and how much the average citizen actually knew of what was going on.

What particularly drew me to this book is the fact that it's not your average history book, written by somebody with an external view of the situation. The author, Martin Davidson, first came up with the idea of writing this book after finding out parts of what his grandfather, Bruno Langbehn, the Nazi of the title, did during the Second World War. It's the fact this is such a personal topic for the author that drives this book along so well and adds some real emotion to the narrative. Imagine discovering that your grandfather was a member of the Nazi party and the SS. That is what the author had to deal with.

Martin Davidson works for the BBC in their History programming department. As a child he knew that his German grandfather Bruno was involved in the war, but didn't know any details and it wasn't a subject he felt he could broach with him. It was only after Bruno's death that Davidson finally found out some details from his mother. He then decided to research further and the result is this book; a comprehensive account of what led Bruno to make his choice and join the Nazis' push for power.

The book is written in chronological order from Bruno's youth, through the turmoil of post World War 1 Germany and the rise of the Nazi party, through World War 2 and finally what happened after the war. It is an extremely well researched book and draws upon many sources, ranging from academic work to actual records from the time that Davidson has managed to track down. It also contains family photos charting Bruno's life, both pre- and post-war.

Overall, this is an extremely fascinating book, charting the story of a fairly average German man and his seduction by the ideology of Hitler and his Nazi party. It will have you simultaneously engrossed and shocked, and give you a fantastic insight into what shaped Germany and her people in those fateful years between the wars.

The author, Martin Davidson, discusses his research into his grandfather's past.

Interested in finding more background information on Germany between the wars? Try the book below.

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    • David3142 profile image
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      David3142 3 years ago

      @SciTechEditorDave: Thank you. I really appreciate the feedback.

    • SciTechEditorDave profile image

      David Gardner 3 years ago from San Francisco Bay Area, California

      Interesting .... Some of my cousins have been digging around in our family's early history -- and it's sort of fascinating (and sometimes creepy) what they find. My folks are predominantly from English, German, Dutch on my dad's side and from French, German, English, Russian and my mom's side. To add even more confusion for my kids, my wife's folks are of Indonesian, Malaysian, Chinese, Spanish, Irish, Filipino background. When my wife and I got married, our dads had an interesting time at the reception chatting "war stories" -- they both had been in WWII in the Pacific -- my father-in-law in the jungles of the Philippines and my dad as a sailor on a U.S. LST (which eventually landed in the Philippines). I wish I had recorded their conversations. Might have made an interesting book. This is a good review -- the personal touch to a snippet of history makes for more involved reading. Congrats on a great lens.

    • David3142 profile image
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      David3142 3 years ago

      @Heidi Vincent: I agree. Thanks for the comment and Squidlike.

    • David3142 profile image
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      David3142 3 years ago

      @topclimb lm: Thank you for the comments and the Squidlike. Really appreciated.

    • topclimb lm profile image

      topclimb lm 3 years ago

      This is a great lens. Really like your narrative and I have added the book to my must read list. Thanks!

    • Heidi Vincent profile image

      Heidi Vincent 3 years ago from GRENADA

      Great choice of history book and review, DoinMaths! I can just imagine how painful it must have been for Martin Davidson to learn of his grand father's involvement and have that fact cemented with his research.

    • MariaMontgomery profile image

      MariaMontgomery 3 years ago from Central Florida, USA

      This sounds like a good opportunity to get inside the head of a Nazi. I find them creepy, but somehow interesting from a historical point of view. I minored in history, and still have the book by Shirer (one of the books you have advertised). It was required reading for a course on the history of Germany, along with several others. I can only imagine how horrifying to learn that a family member was involved in that incredibly horrible organization called Nazis.

    • David3142 profile image
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      David3142 3 years ago

      @ChocolateLily: Thank you.

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      ChocolateLily 3 years ago

      I've read a few books about this time period, but they were all geared toward children (Number the Stars, Hitler Youth, etc). It is so hard to imagine how someone could be sucked into such a regime. I don't know if I would ever be able to read this book, but it looks very insightful. Great review!