Thursday, 25 March 2010

The Castle in the Forest

When I picked up this book, I thought it was a biography. It's certainly biographical in style, but it is nevertheless fiction. It didn't take long to establish that it was fiction once I started reading it, given the fact that it makes reference to a number of things that I simply do not believe in. A more credulous reader might actually have believed this to be a biography (though I find it difficult to imagine how anyone could believe some of the things written. Besides, if you actually read the back of the book, it says "blend of fact and fiction", so there really aren't any excuses).

As I've said, I'm interested in why people do the things they do. This book explores the nature of evil, in particular, the nature of evil as expressed in Adolf Hitler. I've read quite a bit about World War II, partly from a desire to understand why (and how) people do such awful things to other people, and partly because I had the most amazing high school history teacher in the world, Sue Harsant. She left me with an indiscriminate love of history and some of the most bizarre wit I've ever come across.

Anyway, this is a very interesting take on the 'evil' of Hitler. It's also one that I disagree with entirely. I do not believe that it is necessary to look any further than humanity, and society in particular, to find reasons for such behaviour. The idea that we must turn to external sources of evil is ridiculous. Particularly after reading The Anatomy of Villainy, despite that author's belief in an actual external source of evil. This is a book that will leave you with a number of uncomfortable thoughts and for that reason alone is worthy of recommendation (there are others, I just think that that's the most important and quite sufficient without all the other stuff about excellent writing and so on).

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