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 think that William Shirer suffered from the perspective of being too close to a situation to be able to explain it succinctly.
From this book I learned a lot about Hitler's background, how he rose to power in Germany, and now have fair understanding of the state-of-mind of the average German at that time (as well as seeing the stance of many international leaders of the day). Yet, after 40+ hours I have reached my limit.
This book was exhausting to listen to. I found my thoughts wandering away from the story as it delved deeper into details, despite my best efforts to concentrate and stay on-topic. I had a hard time when people were mentioned in context, of whom I had never heard before, but who were being spoken about as if they were a household name. So while I thought about them, the story moved on... and I moved further and further away... until I would lose the thread altogether. The author was certainly passionate enough about his subject, but that could not save the history lesson from becoming boring at times, which did not help my cause any.
With that said, this book would add a wonderful addition of first-hand knowledge/insights from an experienced journalist, to the reader/listener who already has a fair knowledge of the events surrounding Hitler, WWI and WWII.
Having read this book the first time in college decades ago, I found listening to this highly satisfying. The narrative that William Shirer wrote lends itself so well to the audio format, perhaps because he was himself a radio reporter. It is chilling to consider how much of Hitler's rise to power that Shirer saw firsthand, and his use of the Nuremberg archives to piece together the whole horrendous tale is masterful. He and the narrator explain the seemingly inexplicable: how a combination of distraction, seduction and domination so led the German people to acclaim "that corporal from Austria" as their Furher.
One review above mentioned that it "held his attention for the full 54 hours". I strongly second that review. If you only read one book about the Third Reich, read this one.
This was exceptionally well written; not dry like other histories I have read. It is also incredibly well researched and expertly put together. He discusses his bias at the beginning of the book, but still manages to remain remarkably objective. It doesn't get much better than this.
I have read many books on the civil war and revolutionary wars, but realizing that I didn't know much about the specifics of WWII, I began to look for books about this time. Naturally, I came first to this book. It promised to answer for me what I felt is the big question as you look back at the atrocities of WWII, "How could someone like Adolf Hitler actually come to power and rule over a large nation like Germany?", "Why was he tolerated,even when his regime was so obviously brutal?" This book answered these questions completely and revealed atrocities and intrigues that I had no idea of. I believe that every American, indeed every human, should read this book, so that something like Nazi Germany has very little chance of occurring again. Even if you are familiar with this time period, you may be surprised, as I was, at the visionary genius of Hitler. A mad genius, to be sure, but he clearly knew what he wanted to happen and planned out all aspects of his rule far in advance, including the surprise attacks and extermination of anyone who might oppose him. You also get a sense of what the world would have to expect if Hitler had succeeded, simply because he had already crafted his plans for all the territories that he hoped to occupy. In many ways this book is the most terrifying book I have read, because it shows how evil man can be.
This book combines the authors notes as a war correspondent, research into public records from the war and most importantly, secret documents of the Nazi military and government bureaus. It provides a historical "man on the street view" and a "behind closed doors" view of Hitler's inner circle.
Detailed, Long, Insightful
The narrator- The writer of the book was a journalist that lived through the Nazi years in Germany. I like his take, his asides and overall personality.
The Beerhall Putsch
Everything you ever wanted to know about Nazis
The book is read well, and i'm sure it was a challenging task. The books spends the majority of time going over actual journal entries of the men closest to Hitler and even Hitler himself. The book is heavy on military actions, thoughts, and procedures during the Third Reich. It covers Hitler's rise to power, the way the government was fundamentally changed and how that was accomplished, the military conquests, defeats, and fears of the fuhrer. The book is very long but doesn't get boring. If you're interested in how Nazi Germany was possible- look no further.
The level of detail and the author's personal insight and experiences as an observer of the Third Reich.
The description of Nazi atrocities towards the end, but also a great many of the little details
He does a pretty good hitler
Contents kind of odd, the first 11 years of Hitler's rule is in great detail, including about 2 hours worth of content just on Czechoslovakia - but the last 2 years of the war are passed through extremely quickly.
This is a big chunk of book! It is everything you ever wanted to know about the Third Reich. Shirer is thorough, extremely thorough, yet somehow not boring. The narrator also keeps things flowing, without sounding like a droning history teacher. Very well done.
I learned more listening to this book than I did in my entire semester of history. And " I am enjoying it!"
I've always been intrigued by WW II. This book provides an excellent narrative using an inside view but mostly based on the journals and documents of those that were part of Hitler's inner circle. I highly recommend this book to all.
Some parts are very disturbing, but we should never close our eyes to the bad side of human nature. The scary part is to think that it happened only seventy or so years ago.
"Superb reading of this classic history"
Never a dull moment or wasted word in this epic account. Fascinating political insights and actually very humourous details emerge in the narrative. All written and read with great finesse and humane detachment.
"An amazing history"
A fantastically narrated super in depth history covering all the major players and episodes from 1933 to 1945. Very enjoyable and informative
Long but never got bored. Very interesting and well written. Reader is also good with pauses in all the right places.
Yes, the definative account of the Third Reich, brilliantly told.
The whole is compelling, there are far too many interesting scenes to pick out one..
Enough to make anyone cry.
This should be compulsory reading for all studies in human nature and politics.
Absolutely brilliant, it's the first book I've read/listened to and thanks to it, certainly will not be the last!
I love to listen to long and detailed historical accounts. This is a fantastic piece of work that draws together the political and human events and the madness of a group of men that had lost all sense of reality that allowed the Third Reich to be born and its inevitable death. For anyone interested in history or with an ounce of curiosity of why Europe is shaped the way it is today, this book is a must. I listen to it over and over again and never get bored.
An enthralling listen from the start to the finish.
I listened to the book in two hour blocks as I drive frequently, due to my work. If you want to really know about the Second World War, then this book is a must listen.
It is based on the war files found after the war in the German archives and reveals the true machinations of the Third Reich.
The book is comparable with the World at War television series.
I found the time line of the different battles fascinating. The initial battle in Europe was a over in weeks after Hitler invaded Belgium and Holland. Why did he stop his tanks from cutting off the British withdrawal?
The narration is superb.
There is a chapter towards the end which goes into more detail about The Final Solution. Truly horrific on every scale. I found this chapter very hard to listen to.
Britain got a lot of flack for initially appeasing Hitler. I am sure America would of played a large part in advising Britain in this period, although this is hardly mentioned.
At one stage he even says that the King's consort was pro German. He fails to mention that she was American and probably reflected America's views on Hitler at that time.
The author was an American correspondent based in Berlin. He negates to mention his own failure in alerting his fellow countryman.
He also fails to mention the breaking of the Enigma Code, which was a vast help to the allies?
Overall a great listen.
"A fascinating look at Hitler's bizarre story"
I might not listen to it again - it's a big work. But also, it's very clearly described and didn't leave me feeling like I needed to revisit parts to properly understand them.
There was a lot in here, particularly regarding Hitler's extraordinary rise to power and the events leading to the outbreak of the Second World War, that I knew nothing about. Some of the political manoeuvring is fascinating, and Mr Shirer had a very close view of it, living and working in Germany prior to the war.
Mr Gardner's performance is very measured, unhurried and evenly paced. I didn't find his delivery jarring or annoying, and for me, I will always associate his voice with Mr Shirer's words.
I'm not sure this subject needs any more films, but it would be something like, "The story of how an angry Austrian nobody caused history's biggest conflict - and destroyed himself."
"A brilliant (if long) history of the Third Reich"
If you want to understand how Hitler came to believe what he did, how he came to power, how Germany allowed this to happen and then how the second world war was planned and fought then this book tells it all.
A slightly odd question to ask of a book like this. Molotov comes off well I suppose. Churchill too.
Again - not the best question to ask of a history of war.
There are, by necessity, some chapters covering the Nazi atrocities. These cover more than just the final solution and were hard going. The author does not imagine or exaggerate and simply reports from documentation provided to the Nuremberg trials - however - it's upsetting stuff.
I wanted to understand (in light of recent international events) how fascism rose in popularity and how National Fascism came to power. I've also wanted to understand how Hitler came to start the war, and how he lost it.
This book is brilliant in being very detailed and written by a gentlemen who was there, as a US journalist, in Germany during the rise of Hitler and the start of the war. Shirer was there - he met or saw these people and so paints a very colourful picture of events.
It's an old book (published in '59 I think) so some of the language is a little quant on occasions (if you hear the phrase "pulling his chestnuts from the fire" several times it sounds very odd these days).
It ends with the author noting that no one would buy the book (the publisher only printing 12,000 copies) however it deservedly sold well (apart from in Germany oddly enough).
"Cute and pointless. Hobby writer."
Having read just the preface, I think I am in for a hurrah for US of A book. Why? Because it start by referring to Chamberlain's appeasement in Münich as a surrender. Any competent historian would realise that there can no surrender before war is declared, and Britain was the first nation to declare war on Germany, without first being attacked. It is as a fact that the USA only reluctantly aligned with the Allies, halfway through the war, which left the UK and France heavy in debt to the USA and the USA benefitting from the war premium.
Baias and pointless personality digging which many historical figures would not stand up to.
I doubt very much.
Poetic and clear prose.
This should be listed under amateur historian, so as to clearly separate it from real historians like Simon Schama,
I would suggest those who like David John Cawdell Irving works might also like William L. Shirer's work.
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