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The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany | [William L. Shirer]

The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany

Since its publication in 1960, William L. Shirer’s monumental study of Hitler’s German empire has been widely acclaimed as the definitive record of the 20th century’s blackest hours. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich offers an unparalleled and thrillingly told examination of how Adolf Hitler nearly succeeded in conquering the world. With millions of copies in print around the globe, it has attained the status of a vital and enduring classic.
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Publisher's Summary

Since its publication in 1960, William L. Shirer’s monumental study of Hitler’s German empire has been widely acclaimed as the definitive record of the 20th century’s blackest hours. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich offers an unparalleled and thrillingly told examination of how Adolf Hitler nearly succeeded in conquering the world. With millions of copies in print around the globe, it has attained the status of a vital and enduring classic.

Now, many years after the end of World War II, it may seem incredible that our most valued institutions and way of life were threatened by the menace that Hitler and the Third Reich represented. Shirer’s description of events and the cast of characters who played such pivotal roles in defining the course Europe was to take is unforgettable.

Benefiting from his many years as a reporter, and thus a personal observer of the rise of Nazi Germany, and availing himself of some of the 485 tons of documents from the German Foreign Office, as well as countless other diaries, phone transcriptions, and other written records, meticulously kept at every level by the Germans, Shirer has put together a brutally objective account of how Hitler wrested political control of Germany, and planned and executed his six-year quest to dominate the world, only to see Germany go down in flames.

This is a richly rewarding experience for anyone who wants to come to grips with the mysterious question of how this menace to civilization ever came into being, much less was sustained for as long as it was. The answer, unfortunately, is that most of Germany, for a whole host of reasons, embraced Nazism and the fanaticism that Hitler engendered.

©1990 William L. Shirer (P)2010 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What the Critics Say

“One of the most important works of history of our time.” (The New York Times)

”A splendid work of scholarship, objective in method, sound in judgment, inescapable in its conclusions.” (The New York Times Book Review)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    Anita G. Wwilkerson martinsburg west virginia 03-18-13
    Anita G. Wwilkerson martinsburg west virginia 03-18-13 Member Since 2014

    anitawilkerson

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    2
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    "extraordinary"
    What did you love best about The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich?

    It was written by someone who was there, and written in a timely fashion. Excellent writing skills and readability.


    What did you like best about this story?

    couldn't put it down.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Hitler killed himself and the other monsters were hung.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    One reflects and wonders


    Any additional comments?

    I wish I had read it years ago.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Waykuy 03-12-13
    Waykuy 03-12-13 Member Since 2012

    kas7946

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A story that needs to be read!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes! Although it is a painful chapter in history, it is one that we need to learn from. All voters should be familiar with this era.


    What did you like best about this story?

    There are many lessons here to be learned. Unfortunately, history is barely taught in schools these days and the history that is taught is molded to fit a particular political view. This book gives you the facts and leaves it to you to decide what could have been differently. Churchill called WWII the "unnecessary war". Had the world only listened to him millions of lives could have been saved.


    Have you listened to any of Grover Gardner’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Never let it happen again!


    Any additional comments?

    WWII was the worst war in the world's history and it could have been avoided. Everyone should read this book and others like it to understand how.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    C. Royal Oak, MI, United States 03-11-13
    C. Royal Oak, MI, United States 03-11-13 Member Since 2014

    CJ

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    "Can't believe I waited so long to read this"

    Fascinating front-row seat through a journalist's eyes--not a historian, but a writer who saw it as it happened. Interesting insight into the Mussolini/Hitler relationship.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Damian Fairfield, Australia 03-06-13
    Damian Fairfield, Australia 03-06-13 Member Since 2014
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    "Gold standard in popular history"

    It's hard to beat this famous book for sheer listenability. Shirer has a gifted journalist's ability to describe complex patterns of events in a compelling, direct and extrordinarily lucid way. No wonder the book has been so widely read. Grover Gardner's performance is simply remarkable. Over dozens and dozens of hours he manages to bring the text to life, never flagging and never becoming monotonous. How he manages it is something of a mystery.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Max Purcellville, VA, United States 03-04-13
    Max Purcellville, VA, United States 03-04-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Great historical book"
    If you could sum up The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich in three words, what would they be?

    THE storry of rise and fall of Hitler


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich?

    The weakness of will of the UK, France and USA at the time


    What about Grover Gardner’s performance did you like?

    Nicely done


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    While the west slept


    Any additional comments?

    none

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steve Raleigh, NC, United States 02-25-13
    Steve Raleigh, NC, United States 02-25-13 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    "One for the Generations!"
    Any additional comments?

    Few books have the interest holding capacity to warn future generations about that which has happened in the past as something that could again happen in the future without sounding apocryphal, banal and gloomy. As horrifying as Hitler's insidious reign was, more horrifying was the ease at which he was able to gain ascendancy within arguably one of the most literate and sophisticated cultures of Western Civilization:1920-1930 Germany. After reading this book, it put the tired political slogan "it's the economy stupid" in new light. Granted we do vote our pocketbooks, but we must never forget that is exactly what the German's of the 1930's did as well. When the primary desire of elections reflect purely economic security and stability, we then could fall into the same trap as the Germans a few generations ago. We could sacrifice all our liberty for a piece of bread. The indictment against the culture then was that they were willing to forego in an almost absentmindedness the learning, philosophy, culture and freedom earn by previous generations, for a short-lived and eventual economic mirage of stability and industry. The warning to us is that we must love liberty, freedom and be willing to pay the price for those precious virtues for ourselves and others or we risk becoming civilized, prosperous slaves, ultimately becoming inhumanly insensitive and numb to those deemed less desirable. What essentially is so poignant and frightening about Shires book is not about how evil the the Third Reich was--as true as that was-- but how "normal" the Germans that Hitler led were and in that normality could descend into cultural madness.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris Richmond, KY, United States 02-22-13
    Chris Richmond, KY, United States 02-22-13
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    "History is the best educator, ur Ph.D awaits"

    The Author, shifted through 485 tons of Reich records, personal diaries, telephone logs and more to take you step by step exactly how this Nazi enterprise sprouted, took root and grew. Also, demostrating the gullibilities of democratic and monarchial governments. Hitler was a master at reading the lay of the political landscape, exploiting every opportunity he created or observed. To sum it up, Brilliant expose` of the Nazi Reich's Rise and Fall. I am still stunned by this intense exposure to "man's" darkest character, I'll never see politicians, persons of ambition or govt as harmless again. G. Washington said; "Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master." Absolute power corrupts absolutely. The German Generals had many opportunities to take Hitler out in the late thirties, all were held back by their personal ambitions and addiction to the euphoria enveloping them. Until Col. Claus Von Stauffenberg came along. Worth every minute of your time.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Glenn Calgary, Alberta, Canada 02-22-13
    Glenn Calgary, Alberta, Canada 02-22-13 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "History buffs will love this"

    My dad also listened to this and he loved it. It can be a bit repetitive at times and sad from a humanity perspective. I liked the book but could only take the depraved nature of the history in bit sized chunks. With that aside there is not a piece of the Nazi history that is not talked about ... very in depth ..... well spoken ....

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christopher S. Butera Lehrberg, Germany 02-19-13
    Christopher S. Butera Lehrberg, Germany 02-19-13 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    "A definitive history of the Third Reich"
    What made the experience of listening to The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich the most enjoyable?

    The details were gripping without being mundane or superfluous. This gave the book a great context.


    What about Grover Gardner’s performance did you like?

    Grover Gardner's inflection really made the book listenable.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    William Shirer's "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" is not only definitive but extraordinarily informative and without bias. Being unbiased is crucial in order to get a real grasp of the historical truth.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bodacious Wonderment San Diego, CA USA 02-12-13
    Bodacious Wonderment San Diego, CA USA 02-12-13 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
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    "Crickey, why did I go so long without reading this"
    Where does The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Just outstanding. So very very good.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The juxtaposition of the history of the Nazi's along side the author's personal interaction with the events has they happened gives a multidimensional feel to the book. By book's end, you feel you not only have a good grasp of what happened, but you feel that you have some feeling for what is was like to have been there.


    Have you listened to any of Grover Gardner’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Narrator was good, sounded like a journalist should sound.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    World gone crazy.


    Any additional comments?

    GET THIS. Very good history.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 181-190 of 275 results PREVIOUS118192028NEXT
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  • Richard
    rochester, United Kingdom
    12/7/10
    Overall
    "A unique account"

    This was the standard book at school 30 years ago for the study of the Third Reich. Reading it all these years later it has lost none of its impact. The writing style remains modern and clear and in my opinion is unmatched on the subject. Many good books have been written on this subject but Shirer witnessed events with his own eyes meeting many of the historical figures and seeing the bodies before nearly becoming a victim himself. Written in a time when reporting was still a noble art it was criticised as being anti German. For me it lays the facts out and leaves the reader to make his mind up. Despite its length superb narration makes this a stunning a thought provoking listen. Find the time.

    24 of 24 people found this review helpful
  • Nick
    Chelmsford, Essex, United Kingdom
    2/25/11
    Overall
    "Flawed but fascinating"

    Germany under the Nazis is probably one of the most written about periods of history and the seeker after information is spoiled for choice. Plenty of more recent studies have been done on the Nazi era but Shirer's work, now half a century old, still stands for me as the definitive history of the period.

    Of course, it has many flaws, not least Shirer's own very subjective take on the personalities and the events he documents. Shirer was a journalist, and he wrote as a journalist, not as an historian. But what the book might lack in terms of perspective, it gains tremendously in recounting Shirer's own first hand experiences of Nazi Germany. He lived and worked in Germany during the early days of Hitler and personally attended many of the events he described. he was also fortunate, as he describes in his introduction, to have been present when German government documents were seized by the advancing allied armies and to have been one of the journalists allowed to comb through this rich source of information.

    He describes, with frightening clarity, the failure of Britain, France and America to understand the danger posed by Adolf Hitler and the terrible results of the pre-war policy of appeasement, not least for the many millions who died in appalling conditions in Nazi extermination camps. The reader shares his frustration at the willingness of the western powers to sacrifice Austria and Czechoslovakia in order to buy a few more months of peace.

    This is a very long book which I read first when I was in my teens. The audio version is unabridged, and runs to an incredible 57 hours but the narrative will sweep you along. The reader perfectly captures the tone of the written volume. For those who want to find out how a madman can come to power in what should be a civilised country, there is no better source than this book.

    22 of 22 people found this review helpful
  • Colin
    Birmingham, United Kingdom
    2/18/11
    Overall
    "Finished - what do I do now?"

    I listened to all 57 hours in one month during many long drives and not a few late nights. Rarely have I enjoyed history so much. The quality of Shirer's writing has long since been recognised, but this is enhanced even further by the brilliant narration. Yes, there were occasions when my concentration lapsed, but ony because one is inevitably drawn to one aspect of the story rather than another. Most often I was riveted, and now it feels like an old friend has said farewell.

    17 of 17 people found this review helpful
  • Paul Conder
    Auckland New Zealand
    2/15/11
    Overall
    "Fabulous history on the ipod"

    Don't be put off by the length the reader of this fabulous audio book captures you and continues to hold you as the history of Nazi Germany unfolds.

    The book itself remains a classic of World War II covering the broad history of the Third Reich from first tentative developments to the downfall and collapse in the Fuhrer Bunker.

    You will find it difficult to do anything else until you finish listening.

    The producers and reader have remained faithful to the work and the horror of a world war without getting dramatic.

    You will only find a few works that achieve the quality you find here.

    13 of 13 people found this review helpful
  • Kirstine
    Bonnyrigg, United Kingdom
    3/28/11
    Overall
    "History brought to life"

    Don't be put off by the immense length of this audio book: it's a riveting story that keeps you listening. I first read this book over 30 years ago and, though I had forgotten much of the detail, the power of its narrative had left an indelible memory. Listening again, rekindled the shock and amazement at this dark period of history. At times harrowing, it's like a fast-moving crime thriller. And, oh what crimes! What's so shocking is that it wasn't just a small band of psychopaths who had taken over Germany, but that so many people were willing to perpetrate unbelievably cruel treatment on other human beings. With the benefit of hind-sight one can see turning-points that changed history and the many missed opportunities by both sides to triumph or be defeated; or for peace or continued conflict. It's fascinating, if chilling, to see how Hitler started out as a consummate tactician, but latterly sunk into a megalomania that ruined his country.

    The book had involved an immense amount of research into captured secret papers of the Reich and greatly benefits from the author being an eye-witness working as a journalist for a US broadcasting company at this tumultuous period in history.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Thomas
    Leeds, United Kingdom
    2/13/11
    Overall
    "Totally amazing"

    Wow, what an audiobook. It was long, but I can't see how this particular book could have been shortened.

    It's all based on diaries, letters, minutes, logs of phone calls, direct quotes and other direct sources than just other historians material. This makes it all more compelling.

    Some parts are a little heavy - but that's to be expected, and they don't last that long.

    The whole period is truly staggering and to here details of it in such detail is truly amazing.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Martin
    Carnforth, United Kingdom
    1/17/11
    Overall
    "brilliant, scholarly, riveting and chilling"

    This is a monumental listen which despite its length flies along as the events unfold. The reader is very easy to listen to and never becomes a trial or gets in the way.
    Awesome, epic and illuminating. The examples of demagogues and schemers portrayed remain as relevant in our times. An absolute masterpiece. Strongly recommend it.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Mair
    Co LeitrimIreland
    10/11/10
    Overall
    "a gripping riveting listen"

    I've only listened to half so far, and its gripping stuff. Not dry dull writing, but its alive, full of personalities and happenings, one steamrolling onto the next. And the reader is excellent. While its v.long, and I'm not sure I'll take it to the end, I dont think this matters, because its fantastic value, even if I only listen to the first half, as my main interest is in the rise of nazism.

    18 of 21 people found this review helpful
  • Heather
    Forneth, Perthshire
    5/3/11
    Overall
    "Terrifying and compelling - don't miss this one!"

    Shirer lived through the years when Hitler came to power and brings his own observations to the narrative, but also much historical expertise. He had complete access to the archives of meetings and communiques between the key players in Germany and across Europe, plus the transcripts of the Nuremburg trials of the Nazis. This is impressive source material and Shirer deals with it brilliantly.

    The terrifying build up to a world war and the errors politicians made are important for today's international politics. It's a seriously scary read, totally gripping. His analysis of events is fascinating, but you'll be haunted by the impact it has on your own perspective on current world events.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Stephen
    London, United Kingdom
    5/2/11
    Overall
    "A Masterful Work"

    This is a truly masterful and objective history of the third Reich based on the mountains of captured Nazi documents after the war and therefore is not subject to a particular historians interpretation of events.

    Although long and sometimes a little difficult to digest due to - for example - the large number of individuals dealt with, this book is nevertheless an incredibly thorough coverage of Hitler's rise to power that will reward the reader with a wealth of knowledge throughout its scope.

    This has to be one of (if not, the most) complete treatment of the subject matter. I was amazed to read actual extracts of conversations that had been carefully documented with typical German efficiency. There is just so much here that I find it amazing that one man could write such a mammoth volume.

    A word on the narration; This could be a most difficult book for a narrator due to the frequent use of German names, places and other foreign language references. However, this is handled with superb skill by Grover Gardener who's delivery is both confident and precise. It is not surprising then perhaps that he has narrated some of the largest and complex volumes on other matters such as the American civil war.

    In summary, this is a long, but worthwhile masterpiece of work into some of history's darkest days which offers incredible insight into the mind of one of history's most infamous men.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
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