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)
I don't normally have much interest in books about wars, but bought this book out of a primarily historical interest. I found it well written, interesting, long and perhaps having greater detail than a mediocre level of interest would require. For a general-interest listener, it may be a little too long and cumbersome. However, interest is maintained most of the time. (I am looking forward to getting back to a lighthearted novel now!) :-)
The audio book is well read by Grover Gardner.
My only qualm is that - as a listener specifically interested in historical facts - the author intersperses the book with too many of his personal feelings and impressions. Initially, we are bombarded by his concept of Hitler as the village idiot, and later he calls him the "insane genius". As a thinking being, I would prefer, after 7 Parts of accurate historical facts, to draw my own conclusions. In all likelihood, Hitler was neither of the two.
The book is focussed primarily on military history. I would perhaps have enjoyed more about the daily lives of civilians, and what they were experiencing, as opposed to minute military details. But that's just my personal preference, and as i've mentioned - I'm not too interested in wars.
Overall, a very good and interesting read.
Grover Gardner is a good choice as narrator for this long, disturbing, and important book. As he did in Shelby Foote's three-volume history of the Civil War, Gardner shows himself a master of keeping the narrative going and keeping the details clear. William Shirer apparently got a lot of grief when the book was first published (some 50 years ago) -- a journalist trespassing on the domain of historians -- but he seems to have read every Nazi document that had been made public at the time, and combined with his razor-sharp eye-witness accounts of several key events, the book has an immediacy that few other histories are able to convey. I'm sure many of the facts have been refined, and I hope to finish listening to Richard Evans' recent history of the Third Reich as well, but I doubt that later volumes will have the same visceral impact this one did.
I grew up with the usual stories about Hitler and WWII but never heard the details about how he rose to power. This book tells it all.
Hitler didn't hesitate to lie and deceive his friends, enemies or fellow citizens in order to get what he wanted. Not withstanding the holocaust itself I saw many parallels to our modern day politics and wonder if we have forgotten the lessons he taught us.
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.
So much to learn, and so little time to sit down and read. Thanks Audible.
I think this is an incredibly important story to hear, to understand how something as tragic as Hitler's reign came to be. I just wish there was an abridged version, even if it was 30 hours; 57 hours is a major committment to one book.
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.
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 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.
One of the best. Even though it was written several years ago, the history was well sourced.
Certainly not Hitler. The book exposed his human side, but did not attempt to humanize this mad man who caused tens of millions deaths and unspeakable suffering.
I was reluctant to listen to this book because I thought it would cause great anxiety, i.e, it would keep me up at night thinking about it. I am glad i took the plunge. The story has lessons for our time. We should not allow our public officials to abuse the truth. We should not attempt to demonize whole sections of human kind. History is full of great military victories at the expense of destroyed lives and cultures. But the Third Reich stands alone for its brutality. There is no sugar coating in this book or in the history of the Third Reich -- it was evil personified. To compare any modern leader to Hitler diminishes and trivializes the suffering caused by this man and betrays the speaker's utter ignorance of this history.
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.
"A simply astounding work..."
This book is nothing short of astounding, and has kept me gripped for over 2 months on my daily commute between London and Coventry. Having an interest in WW2 I have read many books on the various aspects of the war, but none even come close to this title.
It is meticulously thorough, and sets out the background to not only when and how Hitler came to power, but also the circumstances and national psyche that enabled him to do so. I've also been surprised on many ocassions by how people we thought we knew have so many other sides to them. Mussolini the Peacemaker? Who knew?
Grover Gardner is outstanding in his part as narrator of this dark and yet fascinating story.I cannot imagine anyone doing a finer job.
An absolute must-have title for your collection..
"Well worth it if you've got the time."
This is a masterful book, and despite being written in about 1955 it has not dated at all. This guy was actually a reporter who sometimes stayed in the same hotels as Hitler and gives a first hand account of how Adolf looked on certain occasions - how cool is that? On the other hand, it took me a good three months to get through this book, and I am semi-retired. I find history HARD to read, all those people with foreign names, and sometimes I had to replay three or four times to take it in. Still, a masterwork if you want to get an insight on Hitler's life and thinking. I feel I now understand more or less what fascism is (which I did not before).
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.
"Definitive and very detailed history"
If you are interested in how the Nazis and Hitler came to power, and how Germany came so close to conquering the Western World and Russia, this is for you. With the benefit of hindsight you can see the mistakes that Hitler fortunately made that meant that the Third Reich that he thought would last a thousand years barely lasted ten. It is frightening that he came within a whisker of pulling it off though!
To say that Hitler was my favourite character would not be true, but as an evil genius he can't be beaten. I am amazed that he stated in Mein Kampfe ten years before he came to power all the things he would do, yet no politician of the time seemed to be aware of his plans and time after time were surprised by his actions. He managed to get away with what he did because the "great powers" seemed more intent on mistrusting each other than stopping Hitler
I liked the style of reading and it made it a very easy listen
There were appalling crimes committed by the Nazis and many thousands of war criminals were never prosecuted after the war
I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone who is interested in this subject.
Maybe I meant to say Anti Nazi Gold? Anyway bad puns aside this book is a revelation. I had a vague interest in the Second World War after helping my son with his school homework, now I feel like I have studied it at A-level. There is next to no flare or embellishment in the writing or performance of this book as it presents as a compendium of facts first hand or documented about the rise and fall of the third reich. The dryness of the text however in no way diminishes from its enjoyment and it left me with a hard to shake history bug. While I appreciated this text as somebody who hadn't read a "history book" since I was a boy, I am sure that even the most ardent history buff would enjoy the level of detail and factual insight this book offers.
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