Hitler’s Last Days is a juvenile companion book to the book Killing Patton by Bill O’Reilly. It is marketed for 10 to 14 year olds. The book is essentially a highly condensed version of Killing Patton, along with an extra synopsis of the overview of the last days of the Third Reich and Adolf Hitler.
The story officially picks up with 190 days left in the life of Germany’s brutal dictator. The final days of World War II are upon him, he is plotting a grand offensive that he thinks will turn the tide back in Germany’s favor, but for the moment, he is outside, enjoying a walk with his dog, Blondi.
The planned offensive is what we now know as the Battle of the Bulge, and we also know now that it didn’t quite work out for Hitler the way he envisioned it. The book is jammed full of details on the final events that lead up to Hitler’s suicide, pretty much just as the title states, Hitler’s last days.
Understanding that the book is written for the underaged, it does a lot of glossing over the dreary details of the battles and events, leaving a fairly engaging story that explains what is going on without a whole lot of extra fluff. It covers a range of topics from how the Nazis came to power in the first place in Germany, why they chose the swastika for their symbol, what it was like inside Hitler’s bunker, and various other things that while as an adult, one might not wonder about too much, but a child would.
That’s not to say the story completely glosses over the horrors that was World War II. There is a chapter on the most infamous of the concentration camps, Auschwitz Birkenau. The author treats it very respectfully, and doesn’t go into graphic details on what actually happened, but gives you enough information to know that terrible crimes were committed there against the Jewish people.
This book would be a good introduction to the study of World War II for an older child. It would also be a good supplement for a child who has already studied it once and is interested in history. It covers the basics of what happened in the Battle of the Bulge through the final days of Nazi Germany well, and makes the past come alive in a way that will keep the child’s attention. However, saying that, given the subject matter presented in this book, the suggestion will be given to read it with one’s child, or read it before the child does.
Now, with that being said, while it would be considered a much easier read for an adult, there are things of interest for an adult in this book. Hitler’s last will and testament is included, as is the supposed reasoning why Hitler favored the style mustache he sported that became infamous as a symbol of evil – it had to do with his gas mask he had to wear in World War I.
In addition to serving as an associate librarian with the Howard County Library, Nicole Tracy has years of experience in literary fields. She writes an exclusive weekly column for The Nashville News.