Book Review: Canaris: The Life and Death of Hitler's Spymaster


by Michael Mueller, translated by Geoffrey Brooks

Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2007. Pp. xv, 368. Illus., notes, biblio., index. $34.95. ISBN:159114101X

Canaris: The Life and Death of Hitler's Spymaster is a highly detailed, very nuanced biography of the enigmatic chief of the Abwehr during the Nazi regime, authored by a German journalist who has written several books on the German intelligence services. 

The book reveals Canaris as a complex individual who is never quite what he seems to be, or, perhaps more accurately, what historians and biographers have attempted to make him out to be.  Mueller gives us glimpses of Canaris as enthusiastic supporter of the Nazi regime, as dissident, as nationalist, perhaps even traitor, at the end, as conspirator.  But perhaps above all else, he shows Canaris as a man who preferred to be something of a mystery, hinting at a family and personal history that was, in fact, not necessarily very accurate, and a masterful bureaucratic in-fighter with his own agenda. 

This book is likely to become the standard treatment of Canaris' life and career.

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   

Buy it at



Help Keep Us From Drying Up

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling.

Each month we count on your contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage.
Subscribe   Contribute   Close