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.
My favorite genre is Mysteries. Thank you Audible for keeping me company on my commute, doing chores, etc. What a treat!
This is a thorough accounting of the start to finish of the war based on the factual evidence available at the time. It helped me understand the chronology of events, players, relationships between the nations involved and overall increased my interest in the subject. It can be a bit dry and a few sections seemed to bounce around (chronologically that is). But overall it's superb and I'm glad I invested the time.
Plotting to take over the world since 1969
Journalistic, opinionated, interesting
Yes, with some reservations.
Pacing, timbre and expression all excellent.
Authors somewhat dated homophobia occassionally jars, even to this (straight) listener.. Cant use the word "homosexual" witout adding the word "pervert" for instance . This is not the fault of the performer, who is excellent. Overall a good book, but needs to be read/listened to with the understanding of the times in which the writer lived.
This is no dispassionate history, and the writers (very understandable) distaste for the subjects of the book occassionally detracts from the narrative. However, it covers many of the events well, and is an interesting and well-researched insight from a person who personally experienced some of the events in Berlin first hand.
Thorough provocative heart wrenching account from an eye witness author and vast trove of captured documents. I strongly recommend it.
I have no idea what William Shirer actually sounded like, but he should have sounded like Grover Gardner. This is a down-to-earth history with a matter-of-fact narrator.
Last Man Standing
This is by far one of the best historical book I have ever read. Bravo to the writer and the narrator. We must never forget. Lots of the same mistakes are repeating it self, with the current fight against ISIS.