I am tempted to describe YOUNG ADOLPH by Beryl Bainbridge as a book whose clever premise (Hitler visits his older half-brother’s family in England sometime before WWI when he was in his early 20’s) isn’t enough to carry a rather thin story but then I went back over some of the details presented in the novel that point to the formation of the adult Adolph Hitler and my opinion increased somewhat favorably.
This is fairly minor novel but with an interesting topic and clever inside jokes about the development of a young Adolph Hitler. It’s also very funny in places.
The Hitler in this book is a lazy, easily irritated, self-centered dreamer with a fondness for sleeping and plagued by delusions of bearded men chasing him. His paranoia is a motivating factor in everything he does here.
We see through Hitler’s eyes a number of items that would later be associated with Hitler – for tattooing numbers on people in a hostel to identify them to how easy it is for one civil servant to boss around a lot of people provided he has the authority to growing a moustache, it’s all here….Hitler is already an anti-semite and a racist before the start of this story and one can assume the rest f the blanks in Hitler’s character will be filled in with his experiences in World War I.
Despite the subject, the tone here is light. Hitler continually gets in to jams involving harebrained schemes and has screwball slapstick encounters with the residents of the boarding house where his half-brother lives. At one point, he even dresses up as a woman.
Not a particularly heavy book but a fun read – humorous, inventive, and inoffensive despite the subject matter.