William Shirer's Rise and Fall of the Third Reich is easily among the top five history books I've read or listened to. Too be sure, some of the premier historians of this era, such is Richard Evans, may not agree that my characterization. But in my opinion, the fact that Shirer is a journalist, as distinct from an actual historian, should not be held against him.
Shirer's account of the history of the Reich - from the rise of the NSDAP brownshirts in the early 1930s, to the Reichstag fire and the death of the Weimar Republic, to the capture of Austria, Munich, the Battle of Britain, the aborted Operation Sealion, the launching of Barbarossa, and the ultimate dashing of Hitlers ambitions at the gates of Stalingrad and Moscow in 1941 and 1942 - is simply without parallel,
The book is meticulously researched, and Shirer's presence as a correspondent stationed in Berlin during the late 1930s and early 1940s make his analysis of the events of this period all the more insightful and intriguing. His insights Shirer derives from his first-hand experience in observing and even interacting with many of the leading men of the Party (Rohm, Strasser, etc), the Reich - (Goering, Himmler, etc), and the Wehrmacht - (Halder, Guderian, Kleist, etc.) - may be biased, but they are also brilliant and illuminating.
The meeting between Hitler, Ribbentrop, and Molotov to sign the Nazi-Soviet Pact, as British bombers streak overhead. The diary of General Halder. The halting of the Wehrmacht at the gates of Moscow in Dec. 1941. The descriptions of Hitler's speeches to party drones at meetings of the Reichstag, such as it existed at the time, and especially his rebuttal of FDR's letter requesting assurances of his peaceful intentions regarding the countries on his borders. Wow, what a time, and what a tradjedy - kudos to Shirer for recording in a manner that makes it come alive so many decades later.
Far too long. But it's that good, yes.
I have edited 38 national best sellers and had a writing fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
I am a sensitive person, and I thought I'd find this book so upsetting, I would bail out. I surprised myself; I was riveted. I didn't know much about Hitler's years-long rise to power, except that the German people were destitute and humiliated by the Treaty of Versailles, and he rebuilt their national pride. The details of his climb were fascinating.
He was a master bluffer. He invented self-righteous reasons for invading neighboring countries and bullied France, England, and the United States into believing him and not intervening until it was too late in many situations.
Hitler was so insane, it's almost impossible to believe he got away with his machinations and atrocities, but Shirer's staggering research and documentation back it up. Shirer was a journalist-broadcaster in Germany when a lot of the events transpired, and his firsthand observations inform his perspective. I am in awe of how he managed to gather the material from so many sources, organize it, and write it so clearly and beautifully. His work is mostly objective, but at times his incredulity and revulsion escape. He wouldn't be human had it not.
The narrator did an outstanding job. He must be fluent in French and German. Officers' and politicians' names flowed from his lips, no matter how, well, awkwardly, cacophonously Germanic they were.
I made it through the whole book, mesmerized. I enthusiastically recommend it.
Very thorough analysis of the rise and fall of the Nazi regime, as well as the responses from the various players in the various countries. I thought this was a very balanced examination of the people, background and influences that shaped the events of the day, from someone who lived through the era and experienced things first hand.
I can't say enough about how I quickly and absolutely I was drawn into this book. I was a little skeptical of a documentary book of this size but those doubts were quickly dissipated.
The amount of reference material that William Shirer must have gone through to finish this book is mind boggling. I was completely captivated by the story and the level of detail. I've tried to watch a few documentaries after having listened to this book and cannot finish them. They pale in comparison compared to the level of information this book delivers.
I thought Grover Gardner did a very good job with the narration and really helped make the plots, subplots, and stories come alive.
If you are looking for more than your average documentary about one of the largest pivotal events in the 20th century this book is for you. You will find yourself being reminded many times that, "Truth is stranger than fiction"
You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” ― C.S. Lewis
A very well written and narrated history of wwII. To me it setteled some of the Chronology of WWII and for anyone else I think it has a lot to offer. If one enjoyes reading history. Highly recommended.
Don't kid yourself, this is a VERY long book but it is well worth the time it takes. Shirer combined history and his personal experiences to put together one of the best books explaining what really happened in Germany. I am glad I picked it up and took the time to listen!
absolutely. It might be too long for some people's taste but it is an entertaining 50+ hours
If you liked listening to Grover Gardner, don't mind at all long audio books, and enjoy history, Shelby Foote's 3 volume history on the American Civil War is another great audiobook.
I enjoy that Shirer actually put forth concepts about how and why the German's were susceptible to Nazi control of Germany. However these are controversial and critical of the German people of this time which might turn some people off. In a nutshell, Shirer states that the Germans were subservient and use to taking orders w/o question, preferring structure and order to civil liberties, that and Germans love David Hasselhoff.
I didn't know if I would like something so detailed and long. But I thouroughly enjoyed it all. Everyone has thought the Nazi's were crazy, but this book reveals the details. Hitler and his close cronies were nuts. Seeing the history unfold reveals a lesson the world should learn to prevent this kind of thing from ever happening again.
Exploring a history I thought I knew. I am no scholar, but this was a fascinating exploration of Hitler's rise and fall.
The narrator's pronunciation of German names and locations surely outstrips what my limited German vocabulary could match.
Hitler was a spectacular liar. I nearly had to skip the Holocaust chapters (but don't).
Great book, narrated spectacularly.
For nearly sixty hours I was held in thrall by this history and the author's sources and insights.
I highly recommend it.