I highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in history. The personal anecdotes give the whole book an amazing quality of personal narrative, while conveying a huge amount of information regarding WWII in the European theatre. I have meant to read this book for some 40 years, wish I had done it sooner. The narration is also excellent.
Just finished it. It has absorbed my mind for many days as I got through it all (and replayed various parts). Everyone else has already provided the accolades (for both Shirer and Grover) so I wont repeat them. It covers such sweeping breadth and yet provides a personal immediacy in the narrative that captures you from start to finish. It also provides an all important (and timeless) message about the frailty of freedom and the terrible consequences if it is lost.
This book is amazing and I highly recommended it for anyone with even a passing interest in WWII history. Shirer is able to alternately provide a big picture view of the Third Reich while providing the intimate "you are there" perspective that is constantly engaging. It is certainly helpful that the Third Reich was overflowing with characters, both terrible and farcical, that make for fascinating listening. It is equal parts political, social, and military history. Personally, I found the political and social aspects the most interesting parts of the book.
It is hard to believe that after 57 hours he could have left things out, but I wish he had done more writing about the social "on the home front" history of people in Germany after the outbreak of hostilities to match the detail he put in to the effect of the Third Reich leading up to the outbreak of war on ordinary people's lives. But that is just a small complaint within the larger work.
It is interesting some of the things that an author is allowed to do in a long book like this that are not possible in a traditional history book. You get to experience the almost supernaturally charmed life that Hitler led up to 1942 and his amazing ability to make just the right decision at the right time during the rise of the Third Reich. You also get to experience the slow descent into madness that Hitler experienced over the last couple of years and how he took an entire society down with him.
Yes, some of Shirer's attitudes are a bit dated (especially his attitude regarding homosexuality), but frankly what makes the book even more amazing is how smoothly the narrative flows over 50 years later. If all history was written in such an engaging style we would all be much better off. I found his undisguised disdain for some of the German leaders to be very effective in making the story ring even more true.
Finally, I can't say enough about the narration of Grover Gardner. He never lagged and did an absolutely superb job!
This is a LONG book. There is a lot of background story on the minor political details of Germany leading up to WW II. Well written and read, but lost my interest after a couple of hours.
I will soon be eighty one years young. I have had a very interesting life learning from it as well as enjoying it. I just published a book.
A wonderful, enjoyable read that all should read,and be at least be discussed in American schools. Full of details that even though I thought before my reading that I knew somewhat about I gained so very much from the research and style of Wm.Shirer.Yes, it could happen again. Next time it might not be Germany where it comes from. The only thing that can stop evil of this sort occuring once more is knowledge. Today in America there is too little of that. just have a conversation with the average high school student..
I cannot say enough about this book. I was captivated and, despite the daunting length, it seemed like it flew by. Shirer does such a good job of covering both the history of Germany, but also the personal histories of the different characters to give a really full context of the whole story. I also love the fact that he was on the ground for much of the events. I agree with his introduction when he says that it sometimes helps to have been an eyewitness and this is one of those cases. His research is fantastic and his story telling is even better. I cannot recommend this highly enough!
I can never get enough information on this period of history. I read his book in 1965 and liked it then but now so many years later I realise just how comprehensive his research was.
Of course living through this period as boy, I wondered why Germany and Japan took on the United States when we would have dragged our feet for many more years. Shirer covers all the bases and the fact that he was in Germany in those early years and observed the German people and the main players adds to the reading.
I like downloading books that I can go to over and over again and believe me this is one of them.
4.5 starts...have to save 5 for something perfect and this wasn???t that far off...When I downloaded this book I thought I would listen to it for a while. No way was I going to listen to 7 downloads! But I just finished it a couple of days ago and really liked leaning what really happened instead of someone else???s interpretation, for example movies. Personally I liked the narrator. His German, Italian and French pronunciations were really well done.It was also nice hearing the history of some of the cities I lived in while I lived in Germany.
This is an amazing tour de force. Written in the decade after WW2, the author had access to a multitude of information. After all the Germans were great at bureaucracy!
It took me over a month to listen to all 50+ hours and I was never bored or tempted to switch books.