Professor Stern seeks to expose the roots of the Hitler myth. He performs thoroughly and brilliantly the examination that Kenneth Burke saw as a crying need on the brink of World War II. The questions Professor Stern asks are fundamental and still of the first importance in our own society. How could a predominantly sober, hardworking, and well-educated nation be persuaded to follow Hitler and his inhuman and destructuve program? What was the source of his immense popularity? Why were his public utterances so powerfully persuasive? What were the shared assumptions behind "The Final Solution," Operation Barbarossa, "The Night of the Long Knives"?
Professor Stern has done a pioneering study of the rhetoric of Nazism, a rhetoric that coupled words and action. He examines the speeches, writings, and conversations of Hitler and places them in the context of traditional beliefs of the society into which Hitler, the "ideal outsider," made his way. With terrifying logic his career emerges as the creation of a man who translated the private sphere of sentiment into the public sphere of political action, the will to power into a weapon of mass hypnosis.