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)
The detailed style got taught be a lot of things I did not know. A school's education of history could not prepare me for this level of detail -- nor can it being a german for over 40 years.
The authenticity, the reports (the author calls "objective")
Does a good job, speaks clearly
Deeply moving, authentic and objective
The author has written a truly remarkable book. It has only a few downsides, they are minor, but I will name them nonetheless. He calls his book "objective" and it is, because he is writing from first hand observation, collected reports and brings in other sources. But as a journalist he should know that using so many adjectives when describing people is not a good "objective style" ("the narrow-minded X", "the dull-witted Y", etc).
I also have the feeling that the author falls into the same trap as the subjects he writes about when he talks about his opinion of germans, mainly in the prologue and epilogue. He simplifies and is prejudiced. The reduction of the german to "is used to obey commands since the middle ages (or was it the roman imperium?)" is ridiculous. In his prologue he is writing from a 1960s point of view and I could understand his hesitance towards germany at that time. But the epilogue written in the 1990s just after the Wiedervereinigung shows he did not change his view on germany as a whole -- that I found a bit unsettling, because I *know* germany as a country is *not* what it has been up to 1945. I speak as a german and -- I hope -- a world citizen.
I wrote too long about this small issue: The book is still truly remarkable, educational and deeply, very deeply moving. I regret that it has had better critiques outside of germany then inside it. I find it should be mandatory reading in schools, especially german ones. Only not forgetting will make it never happen again.
The writing was compelling. The delivery was crisp. The book is massive, but Grover Gardner is a pleasure to listen to, and is extremely effective.
The most memorable moment of The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich was the record from the Nuremberg interrogation of Otto Ohlendorf, commanding officer of Einsatzgruppe D, who casually remarked that in the one year he served as commander of a mobile death squad, he had killed 90,000 people.
I first read this book over 40 years ago and it left a strong impression. Nonetheless, I was pleased to discover that it still tells a powerful story of the insanity that was Nazi Germany. So many details had slipped away over the years, that listening was a very fresh experience.
The author's on-site presence for many of the early events in the narrative provided a unique view of the rise of the Nazi's and his access to many of the main players and their records, so soon after the war, provide an historical view that holds up surprisingly well 50 years after it was written. It is definitely a book of its time and the politically correct will find fault with the author's views on a couple of sensitive issues.
The narration is excellent, entirely appropriate to the subject and easy to listen to for the many, many hours it takes.
If you are into live news channels this is for you. It is not an in depth scholarly piece looking at individual elements, it is more like rolling news in Germany in WW2. It is fascinating as it is first hand; not by a scholar generations removed.Very few judgments are made, it is written as if it was being reported at the time by the reporter thus there is no time doing this to take sides (note the author was in NAZI Germany before/during/after WW2).
We know the horrors of WW2 too well but how many of us have listened to first hand experiences of WW2? Well this is the one. If that is what you are looking for you will enjoy this. The only caveat is that it is written in the way news is reported more than a scholarly piece - this makes it less detailed considerably but much more easily absorbed and at times "exciting" to listen to. For those amateur historians new to WW2 it is a great starting point. It won't make you an expert but you will have a very good grasp of all the most important events, perhaps not in great detail, but all of them certainly.
A wonderful narration of a must read. Learn how we got to where we are today as a nation, why our nation thinks the way it does. How the fate of the modern world was determined. Understand the consequences of extreme nationalism. Learn the methodology of a psychopath and how they manipulate, outsmart and intimidate those around them. Learn the consequences of inaction against injustice. Visualize the world of an elite race, that puts itself above what they considered inferior races and nationalities, then exterminates and enslaves them to make a better life for themselves. Learn how corporations make profits from the war machine and death camps without conscience. Learn how Russia won the war by sending endless waves of their own population to die wave after wave against the German onslaught. (26 million).
This book becomes the most terrifying of all because it is non fiction. Listen and learn.
This is a very interesting book and I love the details in which the author has described this era of history. However, as the author mentioned in his own forward, to call this book strictly a "historical" text, would be false. This author has obvious prejudices that come across in nearly every chapter. This is probably due to his directly being alive, affected, and the actions witnessed by the author. While the overall text has a sense of being based on fact and the sheer amount of detail is wonderful, there is a strong undertone of the justification of blame to be on the German people for submitting to the dictatorship of Hitler, the reference in in the first 16 hours of the book of homosexuals as "sexual deviants" and with a general tone of distain, and other such discrepancies throughout the book. This gives the entire text a feeling of being dated, where a pure account of history should have a sense of timelessness. The narration is great and the book paints a vivid picture of the events of WWII. I would recommend this to any history buff, or to someone interested in WWII/Third Reich. However, listen with just the slightest bit of scepticism.
Parts, but not the whole thing, in fact I already have. Again, not the whole thing because it is such an extensive work.
The parts after NAZI Germany began to lose.
The story doesn't have scenes, and in this book I'm not sure there are favorite parts to be had. I can say that I wept like a baby the entire 27th chapter, which focuses specifically on NAZI atrocities, although the Third Reich was so awful that there are atrocities that show up in almost every chapter.
'Thankfully for humanity, the NAZI gangster empire was snuffed out in its infancy.' Not sure if that's a direct quote or a paraphrase, but even by just typing it out tears began to well up to my eyes.
This is a profoundly moving volume.
Among the best
It is an amazingly detailed book and chilling that it is non-fiction
I read this book in hardcover as a teen; listening to it a second time forced me to listen to everything and I realized how thorough this book really is. It is definitely a political history rather than a military one, though of course it necessarily deals with a lot of military components. The pace is very good, though I do feel that Shirer spent too much time on certain aspects of the Third Reich - especially the conspiracies to murder Hitler. Since these were ultimately unsuccessful and incompetently handled, it felt strange that he would spend so much time talking about them.
All in all, I really enjoyed this book - it is a classic for a reason. As long as it is, there are of course some passages that seem to drag, but not as many as you would expect. Grover Gardner was the ideal reader for this book. He has a very even tempo and his voice is excellent.
If you're interested in WWII history and have never read this book, I give it my hearty recommendation.
"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 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.
"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.
"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.
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