The Castle in the Forest

The Castle in the Forest

by Norman Mailer

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The final work of fiction from Norman Mailer, a defining voice of the postwar era, is also one of his most ambitious, taking as its subject the evil of Adolf Hitler. The narrator, a mysterious SS man in possession of extraordinary secrets, follows Adolf from birth through adolescence and offers revealing portraits of Hitler’s parents and siblings. A crucial reflection on the shadows that eclipsed the twentieth century, Mailer’s novel delivers myriad twists and surprises along with characteristically astonishing insights into the struggle between good and evil that exists in us all.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781522637646
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Publication date: 04/04/2017
Edition description: Unabridged
Product dimensions: 5.25(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.67(d)

About the Author

Born in Long Branch, NJ, in 1923, and raised in Brooklyn, Norman Mailer was one of the most influential writers of the second half of the 20th century and a leading public intellectual for nearly sixty years. He is the author of more than thirty books. The Castle in the Forest, his last novel, was his eleventh New York Times bestseller. His first novel, The Naked and the Dead, has never gone out of print. His 1968 nonfiction narrative, The Armies of the Night, won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. He won a second Pulitzer for The Executioner’s Song and is the only person to have won Pulitzers in both fiction and nonfiction. Five of his books were nominated for National Book Awards, and he won a lifetime achievement award from the National Book Foundation in 2005. Mr. Mailer died in 2007 in New York City.


Provincetown, Massachusetts, and New York, New York

Date of Birth:

January 31, 1923

Date of Death:

November 10, 2007

Place of Birth:

Long Branch, New Jersey


B.S., Harvard University, 1943; Sorbonne, Paris, 1947-48

Read an Excerpt

The Castle in the Forest

A Novel
By Norman Mailer

Random House

Copyright © 2007 Norman Mailer
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0394536495


You may call me D.T. That is short for Dieter, a German name, and D.T. will do, now that I am in America, this curious nation. If I draw upon reserves of patience, it is because time passes here without meaning for me, and that is a state to dispose one to rebellion. Can this be why I am writing a book? Among my former associates, we had to swear never to undertake such an action. I was, after all, a member of a matchless Intelligence group. Its classification was SS, Special Section IV-2a, and we were directly under the supervision of Heinrich Himmler. Today, the man is seen as a monster, and I would not look to defend him--he turned out to be one hell of a monster. All the same, Himmler did have an original mind, and one of his theses does take me into my literary intentions, which are, I promise, not routine.


The room that Himmler used when speaking to our elite group was a small lecture hall with dark walnut paneling and was limited to twenty seats raked upward in four rows of five. My emphasis will not be, however, on such descriptions. I prefer to concern myself with Himmler's unorthodox concepts. They may even have stimulated me to begin a memoir that is bound to prove unsettling. I know that I will sail into a sea of turbulence, for I must uproot many a conventional belief. A cacophony erupts in my spirit at the thought. As Intelligence officers, we often seek towarp our findings. Mendacity, after all, possesses its own art, but this is a venture that will ask me to forsake such skills.

Enough! Let me present Heinrich Himmler. You, the reader, must be prepared for no easy occasion. This man, whose nickname, behind his back, was Heini, had become by 1938 one of the four truly important leaders in Germany. Yet his most cherished and secret intellectual pursuit was the study of incest. It dominated our highest-level research, and our findings were kept to closed conferences. Incest, Heini would propose, had always been rife among the poor of all lands. Even our German peasantry had been much afflicted, yes, even as late as the nineteenth century. "Normally, no one in learned circles cares to speak of the matter," he would remark. "After all, there is nothing to be done. Who would bother to call some poor wretch a certified offspring of incest? No, every establishment of every civilized nation looks to sweep such stuff under the rug."

That is, all ranking government officials in the world except for our Heinrich Himmler. He did have the most extraordinary ideas fermenting behind his unhappy spectacles. I must repeat that for a man with a bland and chinless mug, he certainly exhibited a frustrating mixture of brilliance and stupidity. For example, he declared himself to be a pagan. He predicted that there would be a healthy future for humankind once paganism took over the world. Everyone's soul would then be enriched with hitherto unacceptable pleasures. None of us could conceive, however, of an orgy where carnality would rise to such a pitch that you might find a woman ready to throw herself into a flesh-melting roll with Heinrich Himmler. No, not even in the most innovative spirit! For you could always see his face as it must once have been at a school dance, that bespectacled disapproving stare of the wallflower, tall, thin, a youth full of physical ineptitude. Already he had a small potbelly. There he was, ready to wait by the wall while the dance went on.

Yet he grew obsessed over the years with matters others did not dare to mention aloud (which, I must say, is usually the first step to new thought). In fact, he paid close attention to mental retardation. Why? Because Himmler subscribed to the theory that the best human possibilities lie close to the worst. So he was ready to assume that promising children when found in low, nondescript families could be "incestuaries." The word in German, as he coined it, was Inzestuarier. He did not like the more common term of such disgrace, Blutschande (blood-scandal), or as it is sometimes employed in polite circles, Dramatik des Blutes (blood-drama).

None of us felt sufficiently qualified to say that his theory could be dismissed. Even in the early years of the SS, Himmler had recognized that one of our prime needs was to develop exceptional research groups. We had a duty to search into ultimates. As Himmler put it, the health of National Socialism depended on nothing less than these letzte Fragen (last questions). We were to explore problems that other nations did not dare to go near. Incest was at the head of the list. The German mind had to re-establish itself again as the leading inspiration to the learned world. In turn--so went his unstated coupling--much recognition might be given to Heinrich Himmler for his profound attack on problems originating in the agricultural milieu. He would emphasize the underlying point: Husbandry could hardly be investigated without comprehending the peasant. Yet to understand this man of the earth was to speak of incest.

Here, I promise you, he would hold up his hand in precisely that little gesture Hitler used to employ--one prissy flip of the wrist. It was Heinrich's way of saying: "Now comes the meat. And with it--the potatoes!" Off he would go on a peroration. "Yes," he would say, "incest! This is one very good reason that old peasants are devout. An acute fear of the sinful is bound to display itself by one of two extremes: Absolute devotion to religious practice. Or nihilism. I can recall from my student days that the Marxist Friedrich Engels once wrote, 'When the Catholic Church decided adultery was impossible to prevent, they made divorce impossible to obtain.' A brilliant remark even if it comes from the wrong mouth. As much can be said for blood-scandal. That is also impossible to prevent. So, the peasant looks to keep himself devout." He nodded. He nodded again as if two good pumps of his head might be the minimum necessary to convince us that he was speaking from both sides of his heart.

How often, he asked, could the average peasant of the last century avoid these blood temptations? After all, that was not so easy. Peasants, it had to be said, were not usually attractive people. Their features were worn away by hard labor. Besides, they reeked of the field and the barn. Personal odors were at the mercy of hot summers. Under such circumstances, would not basic impulses trigger forbidden inclinations? Given the paucity of their social life, how were they to acquire the ability to stay away from entanglements with brothers and sisters, fathers and daughters?

He did not go on to speak of the pell-mell of limbs and torsos formed by three or four children in a bed, nor the ham-handed naturalness of the most agreeable work of all--that hard-breathing, feverish meat-heavy run up the hills of physical joy--but he did declare, "More than a few in the agricultural sector come, willy-nilly, to see incest as an acceptable option. Who, after all, is most likely to find the honorable work-hardened features of the father or the brother particularly attractive? The sisters, of course! Or the daughters. Often they are the only ones. The father, having created them, remains the focus of their attention."

Hand it to Himmler. He had been storing theories in his head for two decades. A great believer in Schopenhauer, he would also give prominence to a word still relatively new in 1938--genes. These genes, he said, were the biological embodiment of Schopenhauer's concept of the Will. They are the basic element of this mysterious Will. "We know," he said, "that instincts can be passed from one generation to the next. Why? I would say it is in the nature of the Will to remain true to its origins. I even speak of that as a Vision, yes, gentlemen, a force that lives at the core of our human existence. It is this Vision which separates us from the animals. From the beginning of our time on earth, we humans have been seeking to rise to the unseen heights that lie ahead.

"Of course, there are impediments to such a great goal. The most exceptional of our genes must still be able to surmount the privations, humiliations, and tragedies of life as the genes are transmitted from father to child, generation after generation. Great leaders, I would tell you, are rarely the product of one father and one mother. It is more likely that the rare leader is the one who has succeeded in breaking through the bonds that held back ten frustrated generations who could not express the Vision in their own lives but did pass it on through their genes.

"Needless to say, I have arrived at these concepts by meditat- ing upon the life of Adolf Hitler. His heroic rise resonates in our hearts. Since he issues, as we know, from a long line of modest peasant stock, his life demonstrates a superhuman achievement. Absolute awe must overwhelm us."

As Intelligence agents, we were smiling within. This had been the peroration. Now our Heinrich was ready to enter what Americans call the nitty-gritty. "The real question to be asked," he said, "is how does the brilliance of the Vision protect itself from being dulled by commingling? That is implicit in the process of so-called normal reproduction. Contemplate the multimillions of sperm. One of them has to travel all the way up to the ovum of the female. To each lonely sperm cell swimming in the uterine sea, that ovum will loom as large as a battle cruiser." He paused before he nodded. "The same readiness for self-sacrifice that will carry men at war through an uphill attack on a forbidding ridge must exist in healthy sperm. The essence of the male seed is that it is ready to commit itself to just such immolation in order that one of them, at least, will reach the ovum!"

He stared at us. Could we share his excitement? "The next question," he said, "soon arises. Will the genes of the woman be compatible with the sperm cell that has managed to reach her? Or will these separate elements find their respective genes to be in dispute? Are they about to act like unhappy husbands and wives? Yes, I would answer, dispute is often the prevailing case. The meeting may prove sufficiently compatible for procreation to occur, but the combination of their genes is hardly guaranteed to be in harmony.

"When we speak, therefore, of the human desire to create that man who will embody the Vision--the Superman--we have to consider the odds. Not even one in a million families can present us with a husband and a wife who are close enough in the inclination of their genes to bring forth a miraculous child. Not even one, perhaps, in a hundred million. No!"--again the upraised hand--"let us say, closer to a million million. In the case of Adolf Hitler, the numbers may approach the awesome distances we encounter in astronomy.

"So, gentlemen, logic would propose that any Superman who embodies the Vision, is bound to come forth from a mating of exceptionally similar genetic ingredients. Only then will these separate embodiments of the Vision be ready to reinforce each other."

Who could not see what Heinrich was aiming at? Incest offered the nearest possibility for such unity of purpose.

"Yet," said Himmler, "to be reasonable, we must also agree that life is not always ready to certify such an event. Debased males and females are the ones who usually come into the world from these family intimacies. We have to recognize that products of incest usually suffer childhood ills and early deaths. Anomalies abound, even exhibitions of physical monstrosity."

He stood there, sad and stern. "That is the price. Not only are many reinforced good tendencies likely to be present in an inces- tuary, but unhappy inclinations can be magnified as well. Insta- bility is, therefore, a common product of incest. Idiocy waits in the wings. And when a vital possibility exists for the development of a great spirit, this rare human must still overcome a host of frus- trations profound enough to unhinge the brain or induce early death." So spoke Heinrich Himmler.

I think all of us present knew the subtext of these remarks. Back in 1938, we were looking (in greatest secrecy, you may be certain) to determine whether our Führer was a first- or second-degree incestuary. Or neither. If not, if neither, then Himmler's theory would remain groundless. But if our Führer was a true product of incest, then he was more than a glowing example of the likelihood of the thesis, he might be the proof itself.


Excerpted from The Castle in the Forest by Norman Mailer Copyright © 2007 by Norman Mailer. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Castle in the Forest 2.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 43 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an excellant book on tape, but I think it would be a very difficult book to read. I am enjoying the story.
Sleepytimes on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm about 100 pages from the end, and all I can say is I hope this has one hell of a home stretch. The first Mailer I ever tackled was Harlot's Ghost, which was thoroughly enjoyable. But unfortunately this, with an immensely interesting premise, does not even come close to delivering. It is strangely scatological. I know, weird. But I'm never against off-putting psychosexual content, but this manages to stay boring throughout. I know this does not really manage to make the canon by most Mailer fans, and is the reason I'm not ready to swear off the author. I have just decided that upon finishing this novel I will be taking a break from Norman for at least a little while.
gwendolyndawson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Hitler's childhood told from the point of view of the devil assigned to chaperone his upbringing. This is an extraordinarily interesting construct for a novel, and parts of the book really succeed. Overall, however, this book lacks focus and spends far too much time focused on the nitty gritty details of raising bees and a long sidetrack into Russia. I was hoping for more but was entertained nevertheless.
wewerefiction on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was my first Norman Mailer book. Popping in and out of book forums around the Internet I discovered that a lot of people hold this author in very high regard. Some people even have related handles, and to create an alias from a living person (well, living at the time) must imply a certain degree of admiration. So I decided I would read a Norman Mailer book sometime, and it was when I was trying to decide which one looked interesting to me that The Castle in the Forest came out. Enamored as I am with European history of that era, the contest ended. This was going to be my first Norman Mailer book. It would decide whether or not I'd continue on to another one.This is not for the weak of heart. The Book Thief, as I said in my review, may be too painful a work to read especially for those who find the events to be too close for comfort. This, however, is a vivid illustration of an Austrian family ridden with incest, hatred, fear, apprehension, manipulation, and above all, a mother's love. This is not just the story of Adolf Hitler's childhood; it is an explanation of the seeds which created his evil and a portrait of the mother and father who nourished him. The narrator, a devil, possesses the body of an SS man named Dieter. He tells the reader of a pre-Adolf world; the bulk of the book seemed more about his father than about him, but his mother certainly holds a strong role in the play. As do his brothers and sisters - in fact, every character is so fully explained in this book that it makes one feel like it is not at all about Adolf but more about "the Hitlers." Though the devil was assigned to follow dear Adi, he somehow managed to sink into much more familial detail. No matter. It strengthened the painting to have such details intensified. This, as I've said, is not the story of the man you and I think of when we hear the name "Adolf Hitler." Just the same, I say it's not for the faint of heart. Nothing in this book excuses Adolf's decisions, but as the narrator works for Satan, you can't imagine the narration to be all too pleasant. I couldn't put it down, but others may be offended by the language. To be sure, there wasn't a lot of cursing, but intricate description of less-than-attractive subjects are certainly present. And the smells! There are so many smells described in this book that the reader finds herself shivering on more than one occasion.So, against the rules of his kind, this devil in the form of an SS in service to Heinrich Himmler has decided to write down his research into Adolf Hitler's history. It is only in the end where he explains the title of the book, another reason I would give caution to anyone jumping into the idea of reading this. It's good - very good, actually - and I am more prone to purchase other Norman Mailer books and read them now. I will probably recommend this more often than not. But it throws a curve ball at you. It reminds you that you cannot blame one single individual for such abominable crimes. Some people, I know, would not like to admit this. They would like to single out one name, something that sounds particularly evil, and blame just him for the acts of many. I would not suggest this book to those people.Ach, so it makes you think. There are a few scenes which are implanted on my brain right now, though I don't know if it's because they were particularly sweet and disturbing, or because they were so well described. This is one of those books which, after you've read it, you wish you knew someone else who'd also read it so the two of you could talk about it in some depth. There isn't much in the way of politics here, except perhaps Alois' (Adolf's father) desire to climb up the social ladder. You don't even meet Adolf until half the book is already in your memory, and when you do meet him it's with varying degrees of hatred and pity. It isn't one of those books that falsely makes you want the character to succeed. It doesn't claim yo
charlie68 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An engrossing book if disturbing, a fictional working of Adolf Hitler's early life that rings surprisingly true. Really delves into the making or revealing? of a pyschopath.
technodiabla on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. All the reviews are true-- it is full of raunchy, graphic perversities. But, Mailer's eloquent verbiage and dry wit make you laugh in spite of yourself. It is also intelligent. The events that subtlety over time craft an evil human are really scary. No one thing did it; it was the perfect culmination of genes, familial relationships, and social situation. The narration (by a devil who both watches and influences) was OK but was the weakest aspect of the book. It was original but distracting.I haven't done my homework yet to see how much of the story is historically accurate, possible, and complete fiction. I can't say I care. The book would be good even if it were about a fictional character instead of Hitler. I can't whole-heartedly recommend this book to many people because it's too shocking. But if you're up for that then read it, you'll love it. 4 stars.
JeffV on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Perhaps when you are Norman Mailer, publishers consider every word sacred and skip part of the editing process? I have not read a more uneven story that challenged my patience in a long time.The premise seemed interesting. The narrator introduces himself as a former SS officer, once given a task by Himmler to compile a history on the early years of Hitler's life. Alluding to unique sources that would be hard for Himmler to verify, it seems "Heine" never got the whole story. Now, in his late years and living in America, he figured the story was finally worth telling.The unique source -- and most interesting premise in the book, is a devil. This devil is occupying the body of the former SS officer, but this was not always the case. Shortly after his birth, this devil was assigned by "The Maestro" to watch over the development of "Young Addy." He was the project manager, with several minions working beneath him to handle more mundane chores. He reported back to The Maestro, as far he knew, the chief adversary of the "DK" (the Dumbkopf, aka God). Similarly, the devil narrating the story had to operate around "Cudgels", or angels, working on behalf of the DK. The book was at its best describing this metaphysical contest. First, however, was a genealogy of Hitler's ancestry, going back to speculations on his grandfather, as well as incestuous liaisons. Might be interesting to those into chasing family trees, but I'm not one of them. Perhaps the most indulgent part of the book was the incredible percentage devoted to bees. Yes, bees. Adolfs father retired to a barren farm after his life of service as a custom's agent. The land was best used to raise bees. Mailer found it necessary to educate readers on the state of turn-of-the-century apiculture. This could have been trimmed 90% and still have gotten the point across. In another part, the narrator departs from the Hitler household to attend the coronation of Nicholas II. The scene illustrates the chess game between the Maestro and the Dumbkopf, but has little overall relevance to the story. The story ends following the death of Hitler's father and his graduation from school. There were but the tiniest hints of what influenced Hitler to develop into the most infamous monster in history. We are left to ponder just how these seedlings would germinate and grow. Hints indicate perhaps the story wwill continue. That could, I think, be more interesting.
Magus_Manders on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Smut smut smut smut smut smut smut and Hitler.But in all seriousness, this book is either brilliant, or an exploitative romp. Not that it is disrespectful of the gravity of its subject matter -- Adolf Hitler's family and childhood -- but it is dripping with nearly excessive levels of sex and excrement. Then again, that may be the point, as this story is told from the pen of a devil viewing and manipulating humanity from the ground up; Mailer has a point of how ubiquitous these factors are in life, even if we do all we can to hide them. Indeed, whatever interest the sick family drama has, more engrossing are the asides by the demonic narrator and his explanations of infernal/heavenly politics. Mailer approached the subject with a fascinating seriousness that makes those chapters almost superior to the ones centered on the Hitler clan.A contentious book in my mind, though not possibly offensive for the reasons you might think. I spent the entire 450 pages deciding if I liked it, but that didn't stop me from devouring every word.
unlikelyaristotle on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Having heard so much about Norman Mailer, and his legendary novels, when this book first popped up in bookstores everywhere I went that year (London, Switzerland, even Dubai!), I went for it. Adolf's prequel written by a demon? Sounds intriguing. About as thrilling as a dictionary. I've expressed in my other reviews my waning interest in the world wars and particularly in Hitler, but this book cemented it for me. I think a much much more compelling book on the nature of evil came from the book [Perfume] by [[Patrick Suskind]]. Maybe it's because it was predictable, maybe it's because it lost the plot one too many times, and maybe it's because I sincerely dislike everything about Hitler, and am in no way fascinated by his life story (although there was some morbid curiosity in all that incest and freaky lifestyle that his family had), but I just could not like this book.
Tasker on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Vastly easier to read than "Ancient Evenings"; not quite what I expected though since it revolves around Hitler's "close" family ties and transits into his adolescence without much reference to the 1930's -- just my opinion
brianinbuffalo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm a big Mailer fan. I love historical fiction and anxiously awaited a book that promised to deliver an eerie tale of Hitler being sired by Satan. Suffice it to say that I desperately wanted to like this book.It didn't happen. In fact, to my amazement, I stopped reading it halfway through. Perhaps my high expectations doomed the work from the start, but I don't think that's what happened. It just went down too many long and rambling roads to keep my interest.Granted, Mailer's ability to weave historical events into fictional frameworks continues to impress. But when all is said in done, "Castle" is a yawner. Were in not for the riveting and creative premise, I would have assigned an even lower rating.
ethanr on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
How much crap and sex can Mailer fit into 400 pages? The book has too much about the demonic narrator and not nearly enough about young Adolf Hitler, who seems very interesting. Overall, very, very boring.
janey47 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I wanted to like this book much more than I actually did. It's well researched -- remarkably well researched, but that's not a surprise with Mailer. I think I just don't care enough about Hitler's youth to be engaged by the book. The story is told by a devil, which is fine, that works just fine for me, but in places the narrator says, "I know it must be hard on you, reader, to feel sympathy for this child who will grow up to be Adolf Hitler," but as a matter of fact, I never *did* feel much if any sympathy for the child.Some reviewers have objected to the frolic and detour into Russia in the middle of the book, but in fact, that was my favorite part. Mailer says that he thinks he has one book left in him, and that book might be concerned with Rasputin. If that's the case, I'm looking forward to it.
abuannie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Tedious. TEE-DEE-YUSS. Not to mention ludicrous. Quite a combo.
heff100 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ever since its publication I¿ve remained puzzled by The Gospel According to the Son. Was it the discharge of some sort of spiritual necessity? Some way of keeping the prodigious talent ticking over? Actually reading the book again in the early hours of Good Friday both of those judgments feel wrong (not to say patronising) when one is swept through the narrative so tautly, with every word weighted, full of, and provoking, thought. But above all I now see this earlier book as a preparation for The Castle in the Forest, for Mailer¿s astonishing recreation of himself as a writer in his eighties. In the new book there is the same towering Miltonesque theme but now refracted though varying theologies with Bulgakovian humour and placed within a superbly constructed narrative where Mailer allows his reflection on the problem of evil (sorry but that¿s the best phrase that comes to mind) to breathe and organically develop. Stylistically it¿s also riveting: a deliberately ambiguous authorial voice, a calculated arrhythmia (don¿t construe this at first as carelessness - its ongoing placement punctuates the book with great skill and deftness) and the frequent but understated and unconventional cadential resolution and development of the prose. My only regret , and I realise it might sound curious to say this in a book of some 470 pages, is that I thought that there was a hint here of more richness which had been cut out, particularly possibly in the other activities of the devil watching over the young Adolf Hitler. The one substantial episode that is included slightly unbalances the book and I am clear the solution would have been more, not less narrative counterpoint. This is the first of a planned trilogy and the evidence so far points to a hugely important addition to the dazzling Mailer canon.
birdy47 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I don't know enough facts about Hitler to work out what was real or not. However I did enjoy this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
bravewarrior More than 1 year ago
CD/unabridged/Literature: Where do I start? Well, I'm giving it four stars and I hate that I liked it. I mean, it's about Hitler! The narrator was Harris Yulin and he does a great job narrating with an American accent while doing the voices in a German one. (Harris Yulin played Head Watcher Quentin Travers on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Buffy: "....and with out the slayer, you're just watching Masterpiece Theatre".) This novel is 15 discs long and had to have a good narrator. I don't think I could have read it; listening was easier. The book is a dramatization of conversations. This book is supposed to be about Hitler's childhood and his journey through being a sociopath. The book is mostly about his father Alois Hitler. The book is narrated by Dieter, an SS Officer. Dieter reveals himself as a devil. Not the big guy, just a henchman. He is sent, on and off through the years, to the Hitler home, before Adolf is born, to "guide" and watch the family. He tells the reader that he is writing down his memoirs of his time there, but is afraid there may be retribution. The book only goes up to Alois' death so Adolf is really young throughout the book. Adolf is evil as a child. While there are many theories on who Adolf's grandfather was, Mailer makes it clear how he feels. (I did look on Wikipedia to see if his theory had any merit...and it does.) Mailer's theory is that Hitler was a nut because he was a product of incest. There are apparently three men that could have been his grandfather. Two of the men would be blood relatives and one a Jew. Alois, Hitler's father and a whoredog himself, marries his third wife, Adolf's mother, who is either is niece or his daughter. (Later in Adolf's life, he has a relationship with is niece). This book goes in too many directions, but Mailer books usually do. I now know more about beekeeping than ever. The book also moves to Russia and spends two discs on the early Romanov marriage. The book goes into Adolf's older brother Alois Junior's sexual exploits which has no relevance to shaping Hitler. Dieter also tells us not to put too much into Adolf seeing a religious swastika on a door or watching bees getting gassed with sulfur in their hives. The novel goes into Adolf liking to play war games in the woods with the neighborhood kids, but does not go in the depth you would think. Mailer concentrated more on Adolf's bowel movements as a toddler, masturbation habits, becoming a confident liar, and feeling no guilt. The funniest (as in odd) part of this book is when I went to Wikipedia to see what this book was all about. (I bought the audio for $3 bucks at a library sale). The book had gotten Literary Review's Bad Sex in Fiction Award for 2007. The problem was I could not figure out which scene they were talking about. All the scenes were crude. Alois and Adolf's mother wallow like animals and Alois Junior homosexual act are shallow. (Makes you wonder because Mailer was married six times.) Do I recommend it? Well, if your a Mailer fan, yes. If you're not a Mailer fan, you're probably not going to like this book. But I have to say, it was entertaining and the audio was well read. BTW, this book was suppose to be a trilogy of Hitler's life, but Mailer died soon after this first part was published.
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