Books: Brave Old World

DIARY OF A MAN IN DESPAIR by Friedrich Percyval Reck-Malleczewen. 219 pages. Macmillan. $6.95.

In the fall of 1932, Friedrich Percyval Reck-Malleczewen, monarchist, amateur philosopher and member of Bavaria'-landed gentry, was dining with a friend at a Munich restaurant. Like many other Germans during those disorderly times, he carried a revolver to protect himself against street thugs. Seated alone at an adjacent table was a sullen, self-conscious political comer named Adolf Hitler. "I could easily have shot him," Fritz Reck wrote in his diary four years later. "If I had had an inkling...

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