Evans not only has encyclopedic knowledge of his subject, but also the ability to weave it all together into a compelling narrative. Too bad they couldn't find someone to narrate it compellingly. The lackluster reading came close to killing this book as an audio experience. Where are the Patrick Tulls of the 21st century?
It's a remarkable book done a disservice by the reader who hesitates, mispronounces words (and not only the German words), and goes about his job in fits and starts. Too bad!
Just enough information.
Have been looking for a book just about the period from the Treaty of Versailles up to WWII and one that doesn't obsess about Hitler. This is very much about the German people and the socio-economic conditions of that period.
Narrator has a pleasant voice but the delivery was very erratic and confusing, especially when he pauses right in the middle of sentences.
As the first of three books the author has written about the Third Reich it provides a detailed analysis of German politics and society fro the late 1800s to 1933.
He does a good job of presenting the currents and frustrations of Germany without injecting undue judgement or editorializing. He is plenty critical of the Third Reich (it is definitely not an apologist or revisionist book) but he sticks to facts and concrete examples. At the same time he helps the reader get inside the heads of the German people and see things from their perspective.
Although he states that the book is written for the lay press, not historical professionals, it is still rather dry and written at a fairly high level. (I did not subtract a star for this because I think anyone buying an 18 hour audiobook is expecting something above average.) He provides genuine accounts of violence and intimidation without getting pornographic.
It is a good summary of and response to the various theroies of the past 60 years about the roots of Germany's darkest hour.
For me, this book walked that fine line between scholarly and popular efforts. Just the right mix of details and higher level impressions. And I found the conclusions that th author drew were not too biased towards one political view or another. So many books on this period have such a strong foundation in a given ideology that they are annoying to a a moderate like myself. I learned a lot about this important time in history that I didn't know and that will always be relevant - how a minority fringe party was able to openly seize power. How extremism becomes mainstream. I was riveted throughout and found myself sitting in my parking lot at home or driveway at home listening to "just 5 more minutes" But, I did find it intellectually draining to absorb, constantly trying to relate what was being said to my existing knowledge, other historical events, and to current affairs. So I'm going to listen to some lighter books before I return for the second volume.
I read science, biographies, histories, mysteries, adventures, thrillers, educationals, linguistics but not no way, not no how, romances.
Without excess commentary or moralizing or hindsight judgement, Richard Evans relentlessly describes the descent of Germany into chaos and anarchy and the rise of Hitler and his political movement. He takes time along the way to understand each of the major players who through assertion of will or neglect of responsibility allowed the Third Reich to rise and take control of Germany.
The narration is straightforward, clear and interesting. The prose is so well timed and so accurately paced that the style deserves it own accolades. The content is flawless as well, describing the political and economic realities that crushed Germany and made it ripe soil for a tyrannical government.
Like any good work of history, it attempts to simply understand. And this is a great work of history. I'm reading the rest of the series, I can tell you that!
Absolutely not. He's the worst narrator I've ever heard, in his own unique category. His voice is pleasant and intelligent enough. His German pronunciations are mediocre (for every word that he pronounces perfectly, there's another that he totally mangles). But he's defined his turf by inventing a new way to make spoken sentence structure unclear, ambiguous, and utterly confusing: any time he seemingly (this is the only explanation I can think of) comes to a word at the end of a line that *conceivably* *could* be the end of a sentence, he assumes that it *is* the end of *the current* sentence, even if it makes absolutely no sense in the context of that sentence--and regardless of whether it has *any* punctuation after it. No punctuation = end of sentence. Comma = end of sentence. After an end-of-sentence pause with appropriate inflection, etc., he then continues on with the rest of the sentence (the part that's obviously on the next line) as if it were a sentence on its own, even though it makes absolutely no sense.
This alone makes the book almost totally unlistenable.
Unfortunately, before I started listening to anything, I bought all three books in the series. I assume the same thing is going to happen throughout. And I shall persevere, whether the narration drives me crazy or not (see my comments below about the book itself).
The author, in the preface or introduction to the book, states (I'm paraphrasing) that the book contains pretty basic information, and that if you're at all knowledgable on the topic, you might not learn anything new. I wish to disagree: I know something about the topic, and yet I find the book to be *very* educational, interesting, instructive, and the like. I think he's selling himself short. Audible just needs to find a better narrator for him.
This book has clearly been thoroughly researched and there was much information that I had never come across before. What was missing for me was a coherent narrative if how the German people came to embrace Hitler and Nazism in the face of such obvious danger signals. Perhaps this is a failing on my part and not the author's. As such, it is more of a reference work than a narrative that compels you to read it through for understanding. Nevertheless, I am happy with my purchase, and will be buying the other two parts.
Evans not only brings an unbiased view of the process that would culminate with the empowerment of Nazism, but formulates solid lines of thought, some profound, some shocking, some a little of both, that brings to the listener a consistent picture of events and facts that translates in a deeper undertanding, accomplishing what many other traditional sources were unable to.
I found the narrator, despite some of the negative comments given, simply perfect for the job. The pauses are well intended and gives the reader the much needed time to digest the various ideas, suggestions and concepts that thrive in the text, thus assuring continuity of understanding. Several non-fiction audiobooks I've listened through Audible are read fiction style (fast paced and block bound), where plot is usually more emphasized than meaning, with disregard for the complexity contained in most non-fiction historical or scientific texts.
Although I read all types of "books" I usually review non-fiction. I have found that reviews of fiction are easily available while many people shy away from the "harder" non-fiction reads. In my opinion, many good reads are thus lost to the average person. I especially enjoy history - both past and present, individuals and countries.
The author has divided the book into sections such as education, military, history, culture, etc. which makes it very easy to see and for the first time understand how the country was taken over. Most books and documentaries attempt to give a linear history which becomes very complicated resulting in the loss of a lot of information. Some of the information given has been mentioned previously but the overall relationship to the coming of Hitler has never been as thoroughly explained until now. I have been reading on Hitler for several years and like others, have been searching for the reason that the German people turned to him for a leader. In my opinion, this book finally answers the question. Whether you are already familiar with the story of the German people and Hitler or just beginning - there is much to learn from this author's research and his organization of the massive amount of data available on the subject.
The book is in narrative form and is the first of a three book series on Germany. I am now reading the second book in the series, The Third Reich in Power, which is focusing on the actual take-over of Germany by the Nazi Party..