The Nazis were crazy. I mean… truly. Apart from being a bloodthirsty bunch of despicable bastards (if you challenge my statement, please stop reading now and leave my website. And don’t come back) they spent a huge length of time looking for myths and studying the occult in their quest for world subjugation.
Kenneth Hite has done a great deal of reading and research to find out about these Nazi escapades in their search for the true roots of their “purity”. And my goodness it has paid off!
Before I jump into the contents, let me start with the physical book. The Nazi Occult is a perfect bound soft cover and full colour 82 pages book by Osprey Publishing. The binding is really good and the soft cover is hard enough that it doesn’t get bent easily. Layout wise, though, this book is a bit of a mess.
Although the font size was big enough to make it very readable, the separation between paragraphs is a bit too tight, making the differentiation between them a bit hard to get. The side notes font is much smaller, though still easy enough to read. Only problem is that they’re too close to the main text, so the pages can look a bit too busy.
To this we have to add the images. Although they’re really interesting to look at and the few illustrations around the book are gorgeous, their distribution makes the book look a bit disjointed and lacking rhythm and consistency.
The book consists of 10 chapter, an introduction, a further reading appendix and a glossary.
The chapters are not in chronological order. They follow a different aspect of the Nazi pursuit of the occult. From the area that investigated runic lore, the history of the Ahnenerbe, the pursue of Vril and the exploration of Tibet in the search of the origins of the Arian race are some of the areas explored by Hite in this book.
And more, a lot more truly incredible stories of occult studies the Nazis. I could tell you more. I could tell you about the Man with the Green Gloves and his Yeti bodyguards, magically protected tanks fighting against djinni, the Holy Grail… The list goes and on.
There are two things about this book that bug me.
Firstly is that the layout is all over the place. It feels they had a truly tight page budget and weren’t unable to edit the book any further. Thus the information feels a bit crammed. And there is a lot of information.
Although the images and captions that come with them are very interesting and really help get a sense of the history, their positioning feels truly haphazard with sizes and captions all over the place.
There are a few full page illustrations throughout the book and they are gorgeous. Excellent visual representation of either fantastical scenes (like impossible meetings or creatures) help do what this book does best; inspire.
My second bug is with the difficulty to discern the veracity of the studies. The style of writing is very clear and, amazingly enough, Hite manages to convey a huge amount of information in a way that doesn’t become overwhelming. The whole thing is really fun to read and at no point becomes boring, so it certainly does the job.
However it is very difficult to see when something is coming out of a book or when something – if anything – is coming from a book or it has been fictionalised even further to make it more palatable to read. The style of writing is not formal enough for this to read like an academic text, but not fictional enough to read like a collection of short stories.
However don’t let the two things that bug me put you off this book. It is indeed worth getting it. The price is more than reasonable and if you can look past the layout, Nazi Occult will give you more than enough inspiration for stories and adventures in any WWII based game. Or maybe use it as the origins of a story that happens in modern day. Or maybe use them as the culmination of something that started a long time ago.
The only reason I don’t give this book 5 stars is for those two issues I’ve mentioned and that I hope will be sorted out in the future. With a bit more careful editing and a few more pages so the layout could truly shine, I’d probably give it more than 5 stars because is an absolutely fantastic source of inspiration.
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