There is no story in 20th-century history more important to understand than Hitler’s rise to power and the collapse of civilization in Nazi Germany. With The Coming of the Third Reich, Richard Evans, one of the world’s most distinguished historians, has written the definitive account for our time. A masterful synthesis of a vast body of scholarly work integrated with important new research and interpretations, Evans’s history restores drama and contingency to the rise to power of Hitler and the Nazis, even as it shows how ready Germany was by the early 1930s for such a takeover to occur. The Coming of the Third Reich is a masterwork of the historian’s art and the book by which all others on the subject will be judged.
©2005 Richard J. Evans (P)2010 Gildan Media Corp
"[A]n impressive achievement.... [Evans'] opus will be one of the major historical works of our time." (The Atlantic)
This is a horrifying and depressing story, but an important one. Richard Evans is a careful historian, not given to hyperbole and dramatic flourishes, and Sean Pratt matches his tone with a comfortable pace and even tone. Yet in its methodical way, the book lays out a gripping tale.
One point Evans makes is that the Nazis did NOT come to power democratically; they never won more than about 38% of the popular vote. Their victory was a result of PR, brutal street violence, and "backstairs intrigue," with their participation in the electoral process mostly for show. Once in, they proceeded to infiltrate and dominate every aspect of German society, down to the smallest blue-collar singing club in the smallest rural village. Everything was made to point in the same direction in a massive program of "coordination."
One of the most depressing aspects of this whole dismal saga, to me, is the way the Nazis were able to take over German culture, science, and higher education. Jewish musicians were fired; "non-Aryan" physicists and biologists were forced out of the universities and out of the country, to the great impoverishment of German science; philosophy was dominated by Martin Heidegger, who fully embraced the Nazi program. Gung-ho college students tore through bookshops and libraries, seizing "anti-German" material and throwing it onto a bonfire.
The book stops in the spring of 1933, just after the Nazi revolution and before the brown shirts were decimated in the "Night of the Long Knives." The second volume in the trilogy, "The Third Reich in Power," is available on Audible with the same narrator. (I'm going to wait a few weeks before I tackle that one: I need some time to recover from the first volume.)
I am not the target audience for this book. Evans says, in the preface, that his target are those who know little or nothing of this period and I have been reading about the lead-up to World War II for most of my adult life starting with Shirer's The Rise And Fall of the Third Reich (a book Evans does not think much of).
I had not expected to learn very much new, but found how wrong I was about that. The first 1/3 of the book involves the period from the start of the Bismarck period through the end of World War I and does not involve any of the familiar names (Hitler, Goering, Gobbles, Hess, Himmler, etc). It does give the background that provided the fertile ground that allowed the Nazi movement to find purchase. In doing so the author shows that the Nazi beliefs in anti-Semitism, anti-Marxism, anti-socialism, their disdain for democracy, their belief in pan-Germanism and their desire to find extra living space in the East were not new to German culture or beliefs, but had been around for a long time. And this foundation does much to explain the speed with which the Nazi movement gained ground and grew. The remainder of this volume deals with the Nazis themselves, their allies, their opponents, their climb to power and the individuals involved.
I have only two complaints about this book. The first concerns the author's decision to make no moral judgments about the morality of the Nazi actions. While I understand the desire to create a history that deals with facts rather than emotions, this decision seems to me to often ignore how basically evil the events being described were. The second complaint is with the uninspired reading by Sean Pratt. Most of the reading is monotone and, even more annoying, his reading contains pauses in the middle of sentences which have no contextual meaning and serve only to break-up the logical flow of thought.
But these are minor concerns. I am waiting for Audible to add the next volume of this history.
Over the years, I have fancied myself as an amateur expert on WWII and the Third Reich. This tome proved their is so much to learn. This is the first volume that places the Third Reich in and time and space continuum, where factors inside and out of Germany molded the future of the country. A closer look at Bismarck, the effects of WWI on the natinal psyche, the perceived failings of the Weimar Republic, the distressed world-wide economy, inherent German conservatism and nationalism, communist aggitation and latent anti-semitism conspired to make the Thrid Reich.
Read this book and you will understand how a minority party utilizing terror, scape-goatism and an emotional, not intellectual,appeal led Hitler to legal/consitutional power.
Life is breathed into the main characters, deflecting the grainy photos and memories from the past. Some were complex, some were simple and some were conflcited as the played part in this tragic play. The Third Reich was not inevitable, because early on courageous people and forces could have taken a stand against evil and turned the Riech into a historical footnote.
Listen to this story, it is a clear, lively and informative narrative
This is a thorough and well-organized history of late Weimar Republic Germany. There are many disturbing similarities to 2010 America.
My only gripe would be the narrator, who often pauses mid-sentence (not at a comma) and reminds one of a high school student. He mispronounces even some common words. To top it off, he narrates with a sarcastic tone which makes his mediocre reading ability even more annoying. BTW, you won't notice these things in your "sample listening." It will take you about an hour of listening for him to really begin getting on your nerves.
This production of Richard Evans great book is seriously hobbled by poor narration. Odd pauses and hesitations totally pull you out of the narrative. The text itself is excellent. If you are interested in this topic, Defying Hitler is a great memoir with a wonderful narrator.
I am very pleased the Richard Evans Reich trilogy is available (pt 3 TBA). I am not so keen on the reader. Too many pauses in mid sentence. When he lands a full sentence without a pause it flows so much better. And there are some glaring pronunciation errors (Leon Trossky, etc). Still, to have this on audio is great.
Painter, musician, bibliophile...
Having studied the Weimar era extensively, I am thrilled that this book is available! Much of what is discussed here was, at one time, only available in German, as I know only too well from my own years of research. It is an outstanding book in every way, and I would recommend it to anyone, from those who have researched the era to those who are new to it. Yes, the narrator is abyssmal, but I have heard worse. Perhaps the trilogy will become a classic and we will have better narrators in the future. Until then, try to put up with Pratt or read the print edition because there are invaluable and relevant insights and historical lessons for us all in this series.
This book is the first of a trilogy explaining how the Nazis gained power in Germany. It is an important, well written and accessible book. Unfortunately the alleged narrator (and I use that term lightly) manages to ruin it. He stumbles from word to word as though completely unaware that they are in any way connected to one another in things which we call 'sentences'. He manages to pause in all the wrong places as he drones his way through the book, systematically reducing it from fascinating information to monotonous drivel. Whatever this person does professionally he should return to it. Poor Richard Evans. Great writing, preposterous narration. The four stars go to the book with minus five black holes to the 'narrator'.
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?
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.
"Comprehensive and highly academic"
This is indeed a comprehensive history of the rise to the power of the Nazis, starting with a history of Germany in the 19th century.Hitler doesn't even get a mention until about halfway into the book! This book is not for the fainthearted and certainly not for the lay reader, and is aimed at the serious history student. What does irritate is the American narration - why not a British reader? - and his peculiar treatment of some words. For example, he always pronounces 'bourgeois' as 'burr-geois' which really irritates after the tenth time! But if you are looking for a serious study, then look no further.
"Here's how it happened"
If I had time to read I would but using the audio version I can listen in the car.
Read as though he hadn't seen the words before. Some inappropriate pauses and weird pronunciations. Quay pronounced to rhyme with way instead of like key.
I was surprised by the background and it helped me understand how and why Germany fell into this trap in 1933.
"An essential Work"
This is one of the finest audiobooks I have purchased and would recommend it highly to anyone interested in history.
I would compare this book to William Shires Rise and Fall of The Third Reich, and the works of Ian Kershaw. For the comprehensive nature and its exploration of the forces which led to the rise of the Nazi's.
I have listened to Sean Pratt's performance on Michael Burlingame's Abraham Lincoln: A Life. I would say this is a better effort.
I was disgusted at the descriptions of the virulent anti-Semitism which pervaded much of German society.
"History of the Highest Standard"
I know I did this all wrong, but I actually came to this book last, having already listened to the other two parts of the trilogy.
Perhaps of the three, this is the most dry, but you know, it kind of has to be. It focuses on the political machinations surrounding the Nazis through to 1933. Some of the political nuances are not that easy to follow, but Evans doesn't shy away from them. He shows how the Nazi party were able to exploit dubious precedents to create the veneer of legality.
It really is (just like the other parts) brilliantly written, inuitively organised, and clearly narrated at a comfortable pace.
I cannot recommend this series highly enough.
"A mam-moth work"
The book is a very thorough introduction to the history of Germany during the period leading up to the Nazi rule. It's the first of three volumes and itself is divided into three separate audio files. It's well arranged into general themes and dips back into the Bismarkian period as well as across Germany's borders into Austria, to give a comprehensive treament of the lead up to the Third Reich.
The reading is poor. The reader's American accent is not the problem - it's quite mellow. But he seems unfamiliar with even normal American English pronounciations - dockers steal goods from the "kwayside" (quayside) , and people are "booeyed up" (bouyed).
The real frustration is that he seems to be reading the book for the first time without any understanding of what he's reading. He reads it line -
by line -
with meaningless pauses as he gets to the end of each line. Most of the time this is a mild but constant irritation. At some points though, he confuses or distorts the meaning of what was written. We hear that soldiers "returning from the front sometimes disarmed
- then arrested workers"
Or about a "collapse of the Reich
- created by Bismark" ( of course it was the Reich that was created by Bismark but sounds as if Bismark created the collapse!)
This leaves the hearer frequently wondering what was meant by the last sentence. Sometimes the pause is a valid one but the he fails to give it the proper intonation so that it sounds like another arbitrary one. So we hear that the "collapse of the Wilhemina Reich was their chance to -
and they seized it" ( he means "too" but pronounces it as if he is about to tell us what it was that they had a chance to do).
The subject of the book is not light and there is a lot of complex information to understand. The reader should be helping with that understanding conveying meaning in his voice. Unfortunately this reader does not appear to understand what he is reading and hinders that understanding as a result.
"Solid and vast telling of a familiar tale"
Having studied a lot of this period there was still plenty of new material and analysis. How the battle between the Nazi's and the left wing parties played out was particulary interesting. However it didn't grip fully as there are still two parts to go and I still haven't decided to get them.
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