Describing the history of the Marsten House in the novel Salem’s Lot, Stephen King writes of the Marsten family:

He and his wife had retired wealthy to ‘salem’s Lot in 1929, and had lost a good part of that wealth in the stock market crash of 1929. In the ten years between the fall of the market and the rise of Hitler, Marsten and his wife lived in their house like hermits.

Given that Hitler came to power in 1933, finally consolidating it with the passing of the Enabling Act, that makes it 4 years, not 10. I’m assuming King means the beginning of WW2 and not Hitler’s ascent to power, but it’s a little strange that such an error hasn’t been weeded out by the editor, considering the book’s been in print for over 40 years now.

So, my question is: is this just an odd and persistent mistake, or is there some subtlety in the English language that I’m not aware of that renders the phrase a different meaning?

  • 3
    1939 is the year when WWII began, so possibly this is more what King is referring to by "the rise of Hitler"? I agree it's an odd sentence.
    – auden
    Jun 29, 2019 at 17:01
  • The passing of the Enabling Act in 1933 wouldn't have much effect on a New England family. You could trace the start of Hitler's rise to the growing popularity of the NSDAP in the 1920s, or to something much later. 1939 wouldn't have a huge effect on Americans but they would be more likely to be aware of war breaking out in Europe, and the US's entry in to the war 2 years later, than changes in internal German politics..
    – Stuart F
    Sep 21, 2021 at 12:23

1 Answer 1


The phrase in the novel is limited to 'Hitler's rise', it does not specify his rise 'to power', so there is no reason to tie the timescale strictly to his elevation to or consolidation of power.

The OED gives the relevant definition of 'rise' as

Movement towards a position of greater power, influence, or prosperity.

So it could be argued, given the ten year time span pinning the 'rise' to 1939, that 'Hitler's rise' refers to Germany's movement from a dictatorial state operating primarily within its own boundaries (annexations of Austria and the Sudetenland more or less 'passing' as legitimate politics) to an aggressive belligerent with the invasion of Poland.

Americans were certainly well aware of internal problems of Hitler's Germany, which were brought into focus with the question of whether the 1936 Summer Olympics should be boycotted, as a nation or by individual athletes, but a country running its internal affairs in an objectionable fashion, doesn't have the same immediacy for other countries as a country with ambitions of territorial expansion.

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