The Pequod Review:
Albert Speer (1905-1981) was a key technocratic figure in Hitler's war efforts — first as an urban architect and later as Minister of Armaments and Production — and Gitta Sereny's extraordinarily detailed book attempts to understand how Speer, an obviously intelligent and competent man, allowed himself to be swept up into Nazi atrocities. The book is at once intimate and wide-ranging, as Sereny draws on personal interviews she conducted with Speer later in his life as well as extensive secondary documents and third-party interviews. While the psychological explanations for Speer's behavior are frustratingly elusive — he is superficially candid but seems to have built a strong facade of rationalizations and evasions — Sereny's account provides a unique perspective into how the war was conducted and how key decisions were made by Hitler and others. Few books connect the actions of specific individuals with broader political events better than this one.