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In his preface Kershaw admits that he too was a reluctant biographer arriving at the writing of a biography of Hitler from the wrong direction Here Kershaws sympathies for the structuralist approaches to Nazi rule become apparent Structuralis ts challenge the intentionalist argument that Hitler can be seen as the programmatist implementing systematically his ideological objectives The structuralists do not deny the centrality of Hitler to Nazism rather they focus on the struct ural context of decision making and the role of traditional elites in running the Third Reich and Hitlers inability or unwillingness to keep this chaos in check This shift in emphasis has inevitably tended to downgrade the importance of Hitler wh o in Hans Mommsens famous phrase was in some respects a weak dictator These historiographical tensions provide an insight into Kershaws approach and explains why Hitler 1889-1936 Hubris constitutes a different type biography to the more traditional approach found in Bullocks masterpiece Hitler A Study in T yranny 1952 rev ed 1964 or Jochim Fests brilliant analysis of the psychological forces driving Hitlers character Hitler 1974 Moreover Kershaw is less interested in the inner psychology or the private life that one finds in recent p opulist works such as Rosenbaums Explaining Hitler The Search for the Origins of his Evil New York 1998 mercifully he also pulls back from controversial psychoanalytical speculation that underpinned so many abysmal psychobiographies of the 19 70s Kershaw is more concerned to analyze the nature of Hitlers power how he gained power and how he used it - or was allowed to use it by those around him Thus for Kershaw Hitler provides a vehicle to allow him to write an analysis of the wider socia l and political forces in Germany To this end Kershaw is shrewd enough to look seriously at secondary sources like Goebbels diaries to glean meaningful insights into Hitlers thinking and his actions Familiar tools of analysis such as
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