The Wages of Destruction

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Marcus
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The Wages of Destruction

Post by Marcus » 08 Apr 2007 17:00

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Has anyone here read or can comment on "The Wages of Destruction: The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy" by Adam Tooze?
Thanks.

/Marcus

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Richard Hargreaves
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Post by Richard Hargreaves » 08 Apr 2007 18:51

I have a copy of this, but the UK version (different cover). Excellent read. The author made a real trawl through the archives, but what really impressed me was that he made a book about economics interesting! I can heartily recommend.

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Kunikov
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Post by Kunikov » 08 Apr 2007 19:28

I've heard the same good things about the book and have it at home, haven't read it as of yet though.

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Post by JonS » 09 Apr 2007 04:42

There is a fair bit about it on the web, including at Tooze's university staff-member webpage. His webpage has, for example, a fairly elaborate excel spreadsheet with multiple worksheets showing much of the source data used in his book. Also, either there or elsewhere - I forget now - I've come across a PDF'd article by Tooze that appears to be some precursor work to WoD.

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Post by JonS » 10 Apr 2007 03:52


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Zebedee
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Post by Zebedee » 11 Apr 2007 15:04

I wrote this for somewhere else but it might be of interest to members of the forum who have not yet been tempted by Tooze:

Sometimes professional reviewers seem to find minor (and even non-existant) quibbles in order not to sound like they are praising a book too highly.

The vast majority of reviews I’ve read of this book seem to fall into this category. I’ve seen Tooze criticised for minimising the role of the Eastern Front (totally untrue) as well as being criticised for being overly enthusiastic about finding a nugget of information which has remained hidden for sixty years (which seems to be an exceptionally harsh view to take when the nugget is pure gold).

Tooze has written a masterpiece. No doubt, in future years, his ideas will be refined and synthesised by new knowledge but The Wages of Destruction will be seen as the starting point of how we view the Third Reich and World War 2 from an economic perspective. Much of the research is not new, although there are substantial portions which are, but the key to this epic is the way Tooze manages and uses his sources to tie them together into as coherent a whole as we are likely to see for the ‘mad logic’ of the Third Reich. And to do it in such a way as to make it accessible to non-specialists in economic history.

To those without an economics background the first few chapters are sometimes very tough going. Tooze sets out the economic and social framework which shaped Nazi party ideology and policies for the twelve years it was in power. Despite the nature of the material, Tooze has a light touch and an infectious enthusiasm for the subject which kept me gripped. It’s tough material to digest but Tooze does do an excellent job of making it as accessible as it is ever likely to get.

As war becomes reality, Tooze uses the latest research work to intermesh the economic situation of Germany with German conduct of the war. His treatment of genocide as a synthesis of both economics and ideology is worthy of especial commendation. Whilst in no way minimising the horror of the holocaust for the Jews, Tooze also points out the millions of other victims of Hitler’s colonial adventure in the east who died from starvation and slave labour in order to keep Hitler’s war going. Whilst it builds upon the research of Aly and Gerlach, Tooze offers a much broader perspective than I’ve yet to read from either of these two excellent historians.

The dissection of the role of Speer and the brutal tackling of the legend of the ‘economic’ miracle are particularly effective. Bomber Command, it would seem, was actually very effective in mid to late 1943 in disrupting German industry. For me, the real revelation of the book was in just how much of the Speer myth is based in the propaganda of the war which Speer somehow managed to continue to perpetuate after amazingly escaping the death sentence at Nuremburg. The picture of Speer Tooze draws from the contemporary sources is one totally at odds with the one which we have been fed for the past sixty years.

I really cannot praise this work highly enough. We, as readers, need to send out a message to the publishers of works on World War 2 that serious academic works are of interest to us and that we are mature enough to read them. I’d much rather an academic with 1/10 the talent and panache of Tooze be published than see yet another trite and worthless version of “Hitler’s Superweapons” or “The SS – Evil Monsters.”

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Mr Holmes
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Post by Mr Holmes » 12 Apr 2007 05:03

Nearly two years ago I asked some questions which seem to be covered in this book. At university, we lightly touched upon some of these issues but I have not been able to find any good literature on the subject (I threw away my uni notes which included some good sourcing... :-x).

Mr Zebedee, thanks for the well written review and for the heads up!

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Post by Andreas » 13 Apr 2007 11:30

Zebedee, excellent stuff. The article JonS linked is a very useful introduction.

All the best

Andreas

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Marcus
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Post by Marcus » 07 May 2007 16:30

A review of the book has now been added to the site: http://www.axishistory.com/index.php?id=8136

/Marcus

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Post by Andreas » 09 May 2007 12:30

Excellent!

All the best

Andreas

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Bronsky
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Post by Bronsky » 07 Aug 2007 17:44

Tooze's book is excellent. Being a little more than a layman, I would have loved a more in-depth discussion of Speer's role, that part seemed the weakest to me. But maybe a follow-up or articles will provide the additional information.

Definitely recommended.

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Zebedee
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Post by Zebedee » 09 Aug 2007 09:49

Bronsky wrote:Tooze's book is excellent. Being a little more than a layman, I would have loved a more in-depth discussion of Speer's role, that part seemed the weakest to me. But maybe a follow-up or articles will provide the additional information.
I think that there is a lot of room for Tooze to follow up this work. It's really obvious he was having to compress a lot whilst also addressing a more general readership.

Interview with Tooze by his publisher about Wages of Destruction
http://www.penguin.co.uk/nf/Author/Auth ... ml?sym=QUE

Does anyone know whether Tooze has published 'No room for miracles. Reassessing German industrial performance in World War II' yet?

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Post by Andreas » 23 Nov 2007 19:31

There is a very positive review of the German edition available from the FAZ

Buchbesprechung Tooze

All the best

Andreas

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Post by Andreas » 24 Nov 2007 18:25

An off-topic agitprop post by Uncle Joe was removed by me.

Please stay on topic.

Thank you.

Andreas

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Qvist
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Post by Qvist » 04 Jan 2008 14:46

I finally read the book over christmas, and I agree with Zebedee - this is an instant classic that will (or at least ought to) redefine the comon understanding of the field.

cheers

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