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 find this book really extraordinary. First, I was rather put off by the length. Then when I started, I was captivated. The book tells the story of the rise of Nazis from the perspective of someone who was a direct witness of the beginning of the tragedy. It is very well written and narrated.
It reminds one how terribly actual it is. Would Europe be able to stop a similar development if it were to arise now? It makes you think, remember recent tragedies like Yugoslavia, and see the events in Crimea in different light. And it makes you realize how special the time we live in is.
It is not an amusing book but it is really great and should be read by as many people as possible. Some parts made me literally shudder, and so they should.
I enjoy history, biographys, and nerdy/ dorky things.
Masterful, detailed, sad
I've never read anything this detailed before. At 57 hours it is a masterpiece of history.
Yes, I listened to Titan, a biography about John. D. Rockefeller. Grover Gardner has a fantastic voice, and again does a great job with this book.
In school we were taught about the horrors of the 3rd Reich. However learning of these horrors through the written letters, and reports of SS, and Gestapo officers is very sad. Not just because of the crimes, but that human beings could treat other human beings so, in-inhumanely.
Any book this long has it's slow points. In section 3 or 4 the book really slows down. This is dedicated entirely to Germany acquiring Austria, and Czechoslovakia. This was the only issue I had with the book. I didn't think 8 hours needed to be spent on such a subject. Learning about Hitler's upbringing, background, soaring victories, and finally embarrassing defeats were a joy to listen to.
Yes, I preferred the audio version since the length of this book made it hard to read.
His voice is perfect for narration. The cadence and speed was great. He put pauses and emphasis in just the right places to draw your attention to certain points and it made it more engaging to listen.
The portion regarding the concentration camps and resistance movements understandably are difficult to listen to.
As has been previously mentioned on several websites - this book contains some very prejudiced and bigoted statements. Remember that it was written in 1960 and it thus contains the mentality and paradigm from that era.
The narrator is superb, and the content chilling. As German democracy, then Austria, then Czechoslovakia and then Poland fell, I wanted to scream "Can't you see what's happening?"
Hitler was insane. That would be a three word summary of a 57 hour book.
Claus von Stauffenberg- a hero. When someone finally stands up and says, enough: "This must stop even if it costs my life." That's a hero. This part of the book read like fiction.
Molotov is pretty good. A calculator in the line of great Soviet chess players, many moves ahead of his competition.
The jewish revolt in Krakow moved me to tears.
Give it a listen, you won't regret it. Only criticisim is Shirer's homo prejudices. Maybe a sign of the times, but he ably shows the Nazis to be thugs, criminals and psychopaths. Didn't need to call them perverts, too (without mentioning the "perverts" on the Allied side).
I realised I had never done any serious reading/listening on WWII history. To cure my ignorance I bought The Rise & Fall of the Third Reich, and 57 hrs 13 mins later, I do not regret the decision at all. I was a bit suspicious that I might feel like I had done enough in the WWII department after this book, but now having completed it, my interest has grown and not diminished. I highly recommend this book.
This must rank amongst the top histories available on Audible.
Among the best.
The inside details from beginning to end
I would recommend to a friend but only one that its a history buff like myself .
I enjoyed how factual and in depth the story was .
There is no way you could finish this all at once .
Iranians keep their nukes, Americans lose their insurance.
No book other than the bible has ever moved me like this one. My father was a POW and fought in the war, and he said this book is the launch code for Nazi Germany. He was right. I got this book because it was 1 credit. Only 1 credit for 57 hours! God bless Mr. Shirer and... Grover Garder you are amazing. Amazing! Bill Shirer would have been proud.
I have read the print version and while the author has done a superb job at gathering the historical facts and presenting them in an entertaining documentary fashion, the audio narrative adds a new dimension to the documentary.
I listened to the book in my car and I actually looked forward to sitting in traffic just so I could continue listening.
Grover Gardner's portrayal of the historical characters is outstanding. He also does a phenomenal job at capturing the essence of William Shirer's viewpoints. Highly recommended listening.
William L. Shirer has created an absolute masterpiece. Even 53 years after it was first published, this audiobook stands strong. It kept my attention for all 57 hours and Grover Gardner's narration was superb. After so long an audiobook Gardener's voice and this book became a companion, keeping your entertained as you carried out those mundane activities which we substitute audiobooks for entertainment. When the book ends, it is a bit sad but satisfying to have completed such an amazing journey. I found no flaws with this book.
"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.
"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.
"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.
"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.
"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.
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.
"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.
"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.
"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.
"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).
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