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 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.
Probably not - kind of long.
I don't know maybe "Les Miserables" for length.
Not sure that I have.
That would be physically impossible.
I wanted to echo a previous reviewer's comments about "start to finish". This book does hold your attention and interest the whole way through despite its length. Of course, there is a natural revulsion to the subject matter in spots, and so that slowed things down a little bit here and there as I had to take a break and regroup.
Near the top
Thoroughness of detail and realism
When the good guys started winning.
Extreme, yes -- my experience with literary villains has been mostly fictional -- Darth Vader, Sauron; or ancient, such as Pilate and Herod. What amazed me about this book is that although fictional authors can write their villains to be as evil as they want, none of them even came close to the evil of this reality.
It really made me think about where God was in all this.
There is no need to write a long review of this book as it it is already recognized for its brilliance...and for good reason. What you might not know is that the author was there during many of the momentous occasions making the narrative absolutely engaging and 100% authentic. It is long and comprehensive but the performance and the quality of the work is so outstanding that it is a highly recommended journey. As shocking and depressing as some of the material is, the intelligence and deft writing hand of the author carries us through. Upon its completion I was inspired to return to several other books on WWII (Storm of War) to put together the missing parts of the story that only this book could provide. Again, the narrator is among the best I have ever heard.
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