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)
Increasing my ops tempo by allowing storytellers to whisper in my ear(buds).
This book had been sitting on my bookcase for thirty years. It had always intimidated me, whether it was the nearly three inches it covered on the shelf or the prominent swastika on the spine, I never had the spine to read it. Now that I have finally adopted the technology to listen to it, plugging in my ear-buds seemed to be an easy was to cover this material. I found the first part of the narrative, The Rise, to be very informative. Having read or listened to many WWII books I was familiar with the general series of events surrounding Hitler’s rise to power, but Shirer’s account made it all make sense to me. I can now relate with some sense of confidence the importance of the Beer Hall Putsch. I had always though of it as some sort of comedic blunder but now I realize it to be the pivotal event propelling Hitler into the National Socialist he would become. This behind the scenes information is the best feature of the book. What I did not get from this book is the overall sense of the progress of the war. Shirer is focused solely on the machinations of the Nazi Party and the megalomania of Adolph Hiler. The amount of narrative space given to the attempts on Hitler’s life, including the famous Valkyrie plot, is enormous considered against the backdrop of the Third Reich. This account does give one a sense that Hitler was a figure of destiny and nothing was to deter him from accomplishing his nefarious goals. I enjoyed this narrative history very much, the lacuna concerning the balance of the goings on of the was have rekindled my interest so that I will certainly seek out more WWII history.
Grover Gardner is for me an acquired taste. His high-pitched nasally voice grates on my ears. But over the course of the first few hours I came to enjoy his perfect pronunciation and steady pacing. He became the voice in my head for William L. Shirer; he became transparent. Perhaps it is good to have a monotonous reader for works of history thus allowing the direct transmission of the words on the page to the brain. I found Gardner’s lack of intonation to be an obstacle to be overcome. That it can be overcome is a testimony to the dynamic force of the narrative.
Learn, understand, then decide whether you accept or reject.
This book started off with the author saying he's going to try to be as objective as possible, and he puts a bit of an effort. But then there are parts where his perspective and apparent surprise at how "stupid" some Germans are comes as a surprise. Granted, I know Hitler committed a lot of crimes against a lot of people and is extremely hated for it. That's why I hoped this book would try and see through the propaganda for pro-Nazi and anti-Nazi individuals and try to explain exactly what happened.
For the most part, it did not disappoint. But because of the author's many attempts to fill in the holes with information he most likely had no way of knowing for certain, I take away a star from the overall rating.
I listened/read a bit about the topic so was a bit skeptical.
the book is not about the "wrong" nazi regime, it is all too easy to call it evil. The writer takes you an a journey first prior to the nize period. trying and succeding to show what the living conditions of the different groups in pre- nazi germany.
The french occupation of the rine land and the things that made party's like those of hitler possible. Never to fall in golifying nor ridicule the movement.
The reads gets facts, raw data, and if the writer gives his view, what not ofthen happens and when it does to put things in persective, it is clearly noted.
the writer is not scared to state "hitler was a genius", yet not read it the wrong way, he is no fan of the regime but recognise trhe fact the 1 person, not ever the favorite in his party can make it to dictator, using the democratic system.
but is not just state, explains how germany and Hitler came to these ... honestly, factual and detailed.
i would say a must read for everyone intersted in the topic,
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it
mianly factual ... not a writes view, not condeming book, make your own oppinions.
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.
"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.
"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.
"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.
"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.
"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.
"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.
"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.
"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..
"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.
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