In Michiko Kakutani’s recent review of a new Adolf Hitler biography, she doesn’t once mention Donald Trump, the Republican Party, or the current election.
At least not in so many words.
As many New York Times readers have noticed, Kakutani’s synopsis of Volker Ullrich’s Hitler: Ascent 1889–1939 instead makes it impossible not to draw your own chilling parallels between the rise of the Nazi dictator and the current ascendancy of Trump.
How did Hitler rise to power? Kakutani notes that Ullrich’s biography finds his ascent was neither inevitable nor expected. “Politicians,” she writes, “suffered from the delusion that the dominance of traditional conservatives in the cabinet would neutralize the threat of Nazi abuse of power and ‘fence Hitler in.’”
Hm, you don’t say.
As for the man himself, Kakutani highlights descriptions that sound uncomfortably familiar to many following the current election. “Hitler was often described as an egomaniac who ‘only loved himself,’” she notes, “a narcissist with a taste for self-dramatization and what Mr. Ullrich calls a ‘characteristic fondness for superlatives.’”
The biggest, most beautiful superlatives, as certain presidential candidates might say.
Hitler also “concealed his anti-Semitism beneath a ‘mask of moderation’ when trying to win the support of the socially liberal middle classes,” Kakutani writes. His rallies were a different story. She quotes Ullrich: “Hitler adapted the content of his speeches to suit the tastes of his lower-middle-class, nationalist-conservative, ethnic-chauvinist and anti-Semitic listeners.”
Was the apparent shade thrown at Trump throughout this review intentional? The Washington Post asked, and Times spokesperson Danielle Rhoades Ha responded: “The review speaks for itself.”
It certainly does.