Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Kenneth Hite's The Nazi Occult From Osprey Adventures

I'm not sure which came first for me, the Nazi Occultists in Raiders of the Lost Ark, or the ones that were in the early days of Roy Thomas' retro-revival comic set in the (then) World War II Earth-2 continuity of the All-Star Squadron from DC Comics. Regardless of which came first, both of these sources imprinted upon me (and probably countless other geeks of my age) that the Nazi bad guys should be occultists.

Gaming has long followed this idea, with more Nazi Occultist bad guys than you could shake a rune-scribed stick blessed by an Eastern holy man.

If you're a gamer and you do not know who +Kenneth Hite is, you can take a few minutes and go over his Wikipedia page/resume. One of the foremost horror/occult writers in tabletop RPGs, Hite has also been writing a lot of non-fiction over the years as well. The latest in his non-fiction works is for a new imprint of the historical war publishers Osprey that is called Osprey Adventures. Hite's book for this imprint The Nazi Occult combines historical fact and historical speculation to create a history book that isn't a dry or uninteresting read.

To be honest, much of what Hite covers in The Nazi Occult would be considered to probably be the material from bad horror novels...if it wasn't taken from historical facts. In part, that is also what makes this book so scary. Madmen who put so much faith and belief in myths and legends being the truth came so close to nearly controlling Europe during World War II, and a lot of these myths and legends are explained in this book.

On a level, much of what the Nazi Occultists put forward was likely to be little more than propaganda to bolster their scary and extreme viewpoints, but this book also demonstrates just how many people believed the propaganda as truth and thought that the war would be won as much by Germany's magical forces as it would be conventional troups.

The Nazi Occult is a slim volume but packed full of facts, names and information about the occult traditions of Nazi Germany, as well as the time leading up to that. The graphic design is top notch and helps to overcome what could be a blistering wall of text in the book. Hite presents a lot of information in the book in an entertaining manner. The art in the book is a combination of photos of the people involved taken at the time with scans of book and magazine covers and new art that reproduces scenes of what the Nazis thought they were doing, as well as some of Hite's historical speculation.

This is a solid, information-packed book that can be as much use to someone of interest to the period from a historical view, as it would be to a gamer. For a gamer these is a lot of information that is nearly begging to be included in World War II games that deal with the Nazis and their interest in the occult worlds. If you are in either of those two categories, I suggest that you grab a copy of this book from your local book store. You will not be disappointed in it.