This is a master work of historical information. Well thought out, well performed, and well footnoted.
Should be required reading for every human.
Some outdated and offensive views on sexuality, but otherwise an incredible account of Hitler's inner circle from the beginning to the end of the Third Reich, based on primary sources, from an author who lived through it.
The first time I listened to the book I found it to be somewhat too extensive at times, but very informative. I listened to it again recently and I have much more respect for it now. Once you learn a few of the german language words and phrases often quoted in the book it becomes much more comprehensible lol
The subject matter is a terrifying man and the history of a people led to war by him. This history must be told and retold. Not to shame the German people. That is not what is required. But to make sure no one ever forgets those who were killed, and murdered, and erased from history. And to also make sure that everyone understands that this could happen again at any time with the right mix of a charismatic maniac bent on world domination no matter what the costs.
The author was spot on: in Germany we never spoke about it. For me, this was the first time to get a detailed account of the events. We all should now about them and learn the lessons of thus area so they never happen again.
I'm a professor at the Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley. I love reading (and listening) to pieces about military history.
In the preface, William L. Shirer discusses that various historians, mainly French, were dubious about his writing a history of the Third Reich so near to the events being discussed. They argue that a certain historical distance between author and subject is necessary to write with the necessary objectivity. This is especially true of such a highly charged subject, the authors of the Holocaust itself. But Shirer dismisses this by arguing that, while such a long lapse of time might have been necessary in the past, simply in order to uncover the necessary documentary evidence, this is not true of the Third Reich, where he has access to a treasure trove of primary source data. He then goes on to say that he will be objective in his account but, where his prejudice seeps through, he will note it plainly.
The rest of the book, all zillion hours of it, put the lie to this claim. Shirer is a journalist and not an historian, no disqualification, but something that should give one pause. As a journalist, he would seem to still have some obligation toward objectivity, but even this is honored in the breach.
Simply put, the book is not good history. It is filled with ad hominem attacks and gross generalizations about certain types and lifestyle choices that Shirer finds objectionable. Ever the "man's man'" Shirer takes a dim view of homosexuals, who come in for much ridicule and venom. That these men should happen to be members of Hitler's government is all too consistent with its warped and evil nature, in Shirer's view. How can we take seriously, as history, a book that variously describes Hitler's cabinet associates as "cronies, lackeys, and goons"? Is this the neutral representation Shirer aspires to in the introduction? The language throughout is prejudiced and inflammatory.
Let me be clear, however, that this review is not meant as an apologia for the members of the Third Reich. These men were truly and spectacularly evil and deserving of the social opprobrium they incurred. But Shirer has no business labeling his work as objective or even as history, while using epithets to describe the main actors in his piece. Let the reader draw her own conclusions by describing their words and deeds neutrally. They hang themselves perfectly effectively, perhaps moreso, by such a treatment than by Shirer's shrill prose.
This is the first book I've returned to Audible. Grover Gardner, the narrator, does a fine job with the material he has to work with, but the material itself is more propagandistic than historical. This book offers itself up as the "definitive" history of the Thrid Reich, but falls far short of the mark both for it's definitiveness and as history.
Serious scholars and students of history should avoid.
This is a book everyone should read but listening to it here is just as valuable and perhaps more doable when you want to bath in all the facts and thorough reporting.