Which books to read that help political understanding as we approach the general election cannot have the number 5 in the answer. Angels' view is that all books have their moment and that the reader is the crucial determinant of the importance of any work - the reader's knowledge, interests, concerns, responsiveness take precedence over any objective assessment. Though it's always so interesting to hear what others are reading; knowing that gives quite a take on who they are. If told that reading The Prince gives insight into current political goings-on in the country the response 'intellectual preening' followed by ''really, really reading Machiavelli?' may be uncharitable but undoubtedly is there .
Angels are reading Trevor-Roper's The Last Days of Hitler, the 1962 revised edition with the fine introduction and considered conclusions, and it is electrifying.
"If 1941 marks the triumph of the Party over the Army, it also marks a further stage within government - the change from a cabinet to a court...a marked deterioration became apparent in the characters of all the Nazi leaders. There were also important changes in personnel."...."'Relations between the various leaders can only be understood', says the ablest and least corrupted member of the court, [Speer] if their aspirations are interpreted as a struggle for the succession.The War of the Diadochi started very early behind the scenes.' And:
"Hitler certainly showed an astonishing grasp of military detail, but such knowledge had not hitherto been understood to constitute strategical genius. A more critical judgment is that of Halder, that Hitler showed an extraordinary grasp of technical detail and a capacity for unlimited generalization, but that nearly all decisions of strategy must be taken in the middle region between these two categories - and there Hitler was deficient."
The quote from Mein Kampf of what Trevor-Roper regards as a self-portrait, has further horrid echoes in our present predicament.
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