The hipster-as-historian persona occasionally feels forced—Ohler characterizes Hitler as a junkie and his doctors as dealers a few too many times—but the book is an impressive work of scholarship, with more than two dozen pages of footnotes and the blessing of esteemed World War Two historians ... Ohler offers a compelling explanation for Hitler’s erratic behavior in the final years of the war, and how the biomedical landscape of the time affected the way history unfolded ... A number of books have covered the same material as Ohler, but none have focused as strongly on how pharmaceuticals ran in the blood of the Third Reich ... Ohler’s book makes a powerful case for the centrality of drugs to the Nazi war effort, and had he wanted to, he could have easily made it two or three times as long. He only briefly touches on drug experimentation in concentration camps.
There is no other way to put this: Norman Ohler has written a book that is sympathetic to the Nazis ... In Ohler’s narrative, Pervitin is the great untold story of the Third Reich. In Germany, he writes in Blitzed, the drug 'landed like a bomb, spread like a virus, sold like sliced bread, and was soon as much of a fixture as a cup of coffee.' More importantly, Pervitin 'allowed the individual to function in the dictatorship.' This is a dangerous assertion, one that mitigates individual responsibility, and suggests that Hitler’s rise may have been facilitated by a collective German drug high. As Ohler knows, there is scant evidence to actually support his remarkable claim ... Blitzed offers an unnecessary and misguided revision of history, concocted with circumstantial evidence and unsubstantiated claims.
The strengths of Ohler’s account lie not only in the rich array of rare documents he mines and the archival images he reproduces to accompany the text, but also in his character studies ... the larger conclusions Ohler draws are unsubstantiated. For whether the availability of Pervitin was simply a supplemental aid or whether it provides an essential explanation for the success of the blitzkrieg approach remains an open question. Similar problems arise in the other major tale at the heart of Blitzed: Hitler’s own journey into addiction...This is a thesis pieced together from a mix of hard evidence and complete speculation. No full history of these dark times can ever be so simple, and Ohler’s analysis does not withstand close scrutiny ... while “Blitzed” makes for provocative reading, and while the encouragement to look at the Third Reich from a fresh vantage point is salutary, anyone seeking a deepened understanding of the Nazi period must be wary of a book that provides more distraction and distortion than clarification.