Historians and rhetoricians alike recognize Hitler as “one of the great orators of history, perhaps the greatest in the twentieth century” and “an ideal example of the evil power of evil rhetoric.” He roused and radicalized fanatical supporters using his powerful rhetorical skills throughout his career.

Hitler and the Nazis were thoroughly rhetorical actors, and not by accident. Unfortunately, Hitler’s rhetoric is still pervasive in contemporary cultures around the world. Accordingly, understanding Hitler’s rhetoric is necessary for anyone who would recognize and resist imitators and like-minded innovators.

Hitler’s Rhetoric tells the story of how Hitler discovered rhetoric, why it worked, and why it still matters nearly a century after he died.


Introduction: Magical Hitler
Section 1: Education

This section provides background about Hitler learned, trained, and practiced as a populist orator and what effects it had on his early development as a political agitator.

Chapter 1: Hitler’s Paideia
Chapter 2: Der Trommler’s Ausbildung, or Drum School
Chapter 3: The Führer’s Finishing School

Section 2: Practice

Chs. 4-6 survey some of Hitler’s most consistent rhetorical tactics, including figures of speech, performative habits, and argumentative strategies. Chs. 7-8 explain how he adapted the rhetorical lessons from his own speaking and propaganda to teach other Nazis throughout Germany how to be effective speakers and propagandists.

Chapter 4: Common Topics and Common Sense
Chapter 5: Identifying with the Führer
Chapter 6: Creating Rhetorical Force
Chapter 7: The Rhetorical Headmaster
Chapter 8: Constructing Symbol Systems

Section 3: Legacy

These chapters examine the legacy of Hitler’s rhetoric in the 21st century.

Chapter 9: Literal Nazi Rhetoric 100 Years Later
Chapter 10: Democracy’s Rhetorical Failure(s)
Chapter 11: Secret Nazis in Popular Rhetoric

Conclusion: Nazi Genes

Endorsements (under construction)

  • Hitler "stripped of his free speech," 1924


  • Coming
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“Hitler’s eloquence, his astonishing ability to move a German audience by speech, that more than anything else had swept him from oblivion to power as dictator and seemed likely to keep him there.”

William Shirer, The Nightmare Years

About Me

Dr. Ryan Skinnell is an award-winning writer and speaker. He is an expert in political rhetoric and public discourse, especially as they relate to authoritarianism, demagoguery, and extremism. His writing has appeared in The Washington Post, Newsweek, and Salon, among other places.