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.
“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)
My reading and listening tastes are eclectic.
Mr. Shirer wrote this book in the '50's, while the second world war was still very fresh in everyone's mind. While some of the advantages to examining the events that occurred after many of the principles involved had passed are clearly evident, I was very enlightened about the events that led to the rise and fall of the Third Reich. It is very evident that Mr. Shirer has certain biases that were widespread during that period. However, even that frames the events in a way a more open acceptance would not be able to do. This was a great listen, and I found it captivating.
The book is the best book about the Third Reich i ever read. It grabs you from the first chapter. It tells a story from the point of view of someone who was present at the time. Who experienced the Reich at first hand. Every (almost) statement has been verified from official papers.
I can only recommend it in the highest praise.
I've tried to read this classic account of Nazi Germany before and lost heart a few hundred pages in. The audio book kept my interest and kept me listening. A truly detailed and worthwhile book that everyone should read, it puts a lot of other bits about WWII and European history in perspective. Shirer saw Hitler et al walking around Berlin, met them at dinners and briefings and helped me see them as people (many hateful, some conflicted) as well as historical players. I recommend keeping a list of names and referring to maps periodically to keep it all straight. I found myself wanting to keep listening instead of doing other things and had to force myself to stop regularly to avoid total depression. I got so angry during this book I regretted ever learning German or being interested in Germany at all, but have since put it in perspective and am now amazed at how successful Germany has been in rebuilding and maintaining a successful and (mostly) non-militaristic nation.
A must read for anyone interested in WWII or humanity in general.
Later historians might argue for different causes and revise some of the conclusions, but none can have the perspective Shirer brings to this period. He actually saw Hitler and spoke with other key figures during this period. He was in Berlin during the rise of the Reich and recounts the mood of the German-on-the-street, which is at times surprisingly contrary to the attitude urged by the propaganda (his own response to the propaganda is also remarkable). Although I agree that the "anti-German" slant some reviewers complained of, and he mentions in the afterword, mostly that is merely his occasionally caustic observations, some of which apply also to other nationalities (and are mostly balanced by stereotypical positive attributes, as well, including the Germans). Considering all, the ignominy on both sides and horrors he witnessed, this is an admirably balanced and extremely valuable record.
All the members of my family that served in WWII served in the Pacific, so I have never researched much about the war in Europe. This book was amazingly detailed and thorough. It was gripping throughout. The reader was the finest I've heard and the standard by which I've measured all since. I caution you that this focuses on the politics of the Third Reich far more than the military exploits--the military stuff is going on in the background, but the main focus is definitely on politics. If you are looking for a military history of the Eurpoean theater, look elsewhere. Also (and this is my only complaint), there's a fair bit of homophobia in the book when Shirer describes many of the early Nazis as "notorious homosexuals and perverts". I recognize that to some extent that's a relic of the time the book was written, but honestly it lowered my (otherwise high) esteem of Shirer a bit. Really an excellent book overall.
I rarely read historic works, but I'd heard that this was THE book on the subject and was compelled to find out what the fuss was about. I had to go back and relisten to sections quite often, but it was worth every rewind to make sure I had the players straight. The minor failings for me are: Shirer is quite biased against Germans in some statements. If I were German I would find it a bit patronizing. Also, Shirer, a man of his times, makes no bones about his homophobic leanings. But, it is a book of its time and these biases situate the reader more firmly in that time with Shirer, who lived it as an observer. I found that I was discussing the book with my partner, who was also listening to it, quite a lot. We were making comparisons to other, more recent political happenings and finding that quite a disturbing prospect. The audio book is also masterfully read. This reader is gifted and the absolute perfect, grave and strong voice for this.
Interested in everything History,Biology,Astronomy,Physics,Chemistry,Theology,Mysteries,Science Fiction,Drama, and much more!!
The detail of historical events are masterful.
If you want to really know about how the third Reich came about then this is the one book you need. It is full of information that is not commonly reported and gives a blow by blow account of the rise of Hitler and the mad men who allowed 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.
The best, most interesting book I've ever read. Made me want to read every book mentioned in the book as a source. I am not a history buff, but even though this book is incredibly long, I listened to it twice! Explains the perfect storm of things that came together and resulted in the otherwise unfathomable reign of Hitler.
It was very well read, a pleasure.
Wish I'd read this years ago. Being able to listen to it was far less daunting than finding time to read the book.
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"
"Hard to believe that this is Non-Fiction."
This book covers from pre WW2 to the end of the war focusing mostly around the rise and fall of the Nazi party and it's leader with all the captured correspondence that reflect their deeds. Recorded History has never been presented this accurate.
The Fascinating part of this book is that this all facts are layed out from captured documentation and are presented chronologically in a way that make the written text interesting with a great narration in the book and by the Audio Narrator Grover Gardner that has a great intelligent sounding American voice.
I feel that the authors opinions, are balanced and reflect the feelings of any balanced human being of reason, with out being bias.
The Frightening part:
I have read/listen to many dark fiction stories with some really evil twisted characters, but the atrocities committed and discussed in this NON-FICTION book, from recorded documentation and recorded witness is truly frighting. Not just because of the deeds committed and the scale of it all, but mostly because these events really did happen. You can walk away from Fiction, but Facts remain.
This is a long book to go through and I'm not sure I would have read the pages, but the Audio was great. Long, but Great.
Thanks to You Tube I would often listed to a part in history and find related clips related for visual cues. (not that you need many)
I think every Film about WW2 with some level of accuracy must of used this book as a reference: Two films come to mind: DownFall and Valkyrie.
There are detailed parts of the Valkyrie operation in the book, which I must say was very well reflected in the movie, from the facts, now that I know them.
The Movie Downfall I believe, also accurately reflects what happened to Hitler during his last few days before his down fall. This book lists that facts of what happened in that bunker and thanks to this film I had a great idea of the mood and the character of Hitler, which was so well acted by Bruno Gan
A truly staggering work. Downloaded this as i wasn't sure i'd be able to read it but thought i'd be able to listen to it. It's a huge volume of information to take in and given the amount of name and historical figures involved would surely take multiple listens to take it all in.
It is however truly fascinating and terrifying all in one. The narration is tole in a suitably sombre tone but still manages to bring it to life. This is the sort of work that should, along with tv such as the world at war, be mandatory for history classes. How the author managed to structure the book so well is amazing. It's such a wealth of information and I will likely listen to it again in the future.
"A Genuine Master-Piece"
I just finished this amazing audio book and really there is nothing I could possibly write to do it the justice it so deserves - it is quite simply a master piece in its own right; wonderfully researched and told by someone who actually lived through it all. If you have an interest in what happened during WW2, and clearly you must do if you are checking out this book, then do yourself a favour and get this. It is arguably the best book I have ever "read" on the subject (I am reviewing the audio version) and probably will ever will for a long time to come.
The narrator, Grover Gardner, deserves ever credit too for the pace and clarity of his reading (I will be definitely checking out other audio books he’s been involved in after this).
If it were possible to give it more than 5 stars I would.
"A Superb Book"
This is easily the best audiobook I've listened to. It is a fascinating story, brilliantly written and expertly narrated. I had some misgivings about downloading it at first as I felt the 57 hours duration would be too daunting but I quickly became drawn into the amazing story and I finished it in 6 weeks. I frequently gasped in astonishment at some of the details recounted and once, while I was on an early morning walk on holiday in Spain, I had to stop for a few moments so shaken I was at a German officer's eyewitness account of the killing of Jewish men, women and children at a location in the Ukraine. It seems scarcely credible that horrors such as that should have occurred only 70 odd years ago and perpetrated by a nation that prided itself on its civilization and culture. Shirer shows how the German people fell under the spell of the demonic genius Hitler and it was not broken until his death. This great book is a salutary reminder of the utter evil of Nazism.
"Better than any fiction"
I shied away from downloading this book a few times. I liked the idea of listening to it, but thought that the reality might be boring and beyond my powers of concentration.
How wrong I was. This is gripping from start to finish and all the way through one has to keep reminding oneself that it's a true story. It seems too far fetched and fantastical to possibly be real, but the sad fact is that it is real. Jaw dropping stuff, time after time. Better than any fiction and all the more uncomfortable for that very reason.
There's not enough space here to do this book justice, but if, like me, you have any interest in WW2 this is essential listening and at the same time simultaneously shocking and frightening.
"Fascinating and easy on the ear"
Although long, this book caught my attention immediately. I found myself desperately wanting to memorise parts as I heard it, simply because it was so full of new information about this incredible period in modern history. Anyone wanting an insight into the Hitler phenomenon will benefit from this. The book tries to describe the events in a neutral manner, although the author's clear dislike for Hitler comes out often. This is a sensible, clear and very detailed account. The author's voice is gentle and easy to listen to.
The book itself is great. I really enjoyed the details of some communications and the deserving amount of detail in what led to WWII as well as needed background on many other facts. The narration is good except for one very important thing. That being the really bad pronunciations of many names, places and German words. Forgiving the last bit, I have to admit that in part where I heard G?bbels mispronounced again and again (I did not count, but the name must have been mentioned at least hundred times) I did growl louder and louder and twitched every time it came up, I could come up with another 10 without thinking too hard. So 5 stars for book itself, 3 for narration.
"A must for anyone."
To sit and read such a book is only for those with the will & want to do so... But this is an important piece of history, and in audio format it makes it much easier to take in... almost taking you in as if it was a war/spy novel.
Yeah, here's a spoiler alert. Hitler dies & the Nazis lose... BUT this book shows exactly how the most hated figure in modern history came to power.
Even though you may know the outcome of some of the events and battles, you are on the edge of your seat as you realise how damned close each side came to victory/loss at each decision.
In his early political life you can see that he was driven, had a great mind & huge potential. In post WW1 Germany you could see that the way the country was treated by the victors of WW1, that something had to break. The real start of the troubles that lead to WW1 started way before Hitler turned up... but the pot was on the boil, and the Germany was in such a mess that one man with a bright future vision (which it really was... initially) could go from a street tramp to the most powerful leader in a matter of years. Hitler it seems, was the sum of all that was around him.
Truly fascinating, and a real eye opener to why the war kicked off. Understanding the lead up to our darkest days really casts a light on why it all happened. If it hadn't been Hitler, then someone else would have filled the void. The world was a powder keg waiting to blow.
"Worth every penny"
I read this book many years ago as a student, when I had only Bullock’s ‘Hitler’ to contrast it with and found its scope quite daunting. I suspected I might get more out of it now that the ideas and events it covers are more familiar, and I wasn’t mistaken. Not only is Audible’s production impeccable, but Grover Gardner also reads it in as gripping a way as Olivier narrated ‘The World at War’, such that it works brilliantly as a page-turner. More than that, because Shirer witnessed all these events close up, you get a tangible sense of what it must have felt like to live in proximity to the worst psychopath ever to rule a modern state.
I’d heard that the book has rather fallen out of favour nowadays, mostly because it’s now politically incorrect to vilify Germany as opposed to Nazism. In my view, Shirer does overdo his censure of the German people: Hitler never had more than minority support before acceding to power (and indeed was fiercely resisted) and Shirer is quite wrong to take seriously the rigged plebiscites that followed. One can understand anti-German sentiment during the War, but 15 years was surely enough of a cooling-off period before he published his still angry book.
I also wonder whether Shirer (an American) was altogether fair in damning the British and French governments who failed to wage war on Germany pre-emptively. Hindsight’s a fine thing, but both those nations had had the stuffing knocked out of them less than two decades earlier, and renewed hostilities would have gone down like a lead balloon with the electorate.
These are however small caveats alongside the sheer pleasure of a book that everyone entitled to wield a vote ought to listen to.
I read the book many years ago when I was much younger and it left a lasting impression on me then. I had to pick this up as an audiobook, simply to refresh my memory.
The author being a contemporary journalist gives a good insight into the minds of people at the time. If you ever wonder how this could ever have happened, this book will give you some insight. It covers the period before the birth of Hitler up to his death and beyond.
Frequently during the narrative the Shirer will remind the reader or listener of his part in this story and biases he might have had. He does come across as being factual and well read and researched as well as seeing many of the events first hand. The narrative both as a book and an audiobook is quite compelling. The section dealing with treatment of prisoners of war, jews and other civilians and "experiments" is done very well. It is brutal, difficult to listen of read but not over done. It is an essential part of the book.
Whilst Grover Gardner has a few issues with pronunciation of German names, I find these quite forgiveable. His style is "matter of fact" without ever being dull and I for one looked forward to every opportunity to listen. I have no idea what Shirer sounded like but I happily accepted Gardeners voice as his.
This is a "long haul" listen or read but don't let that put you off.
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