We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access.
 >   > 
The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich Audiobook

The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany

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.
    • 1 audiobook per month
    • 180,000+ titles to choose from
    • $14.95 per month after free trial

Publisher's Summary

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.

What the Critics Say

“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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.6 (4748 )
5 star
 (3304)
4 star
 (1016)
3 star
 (273)
2 star
 (84)
1 star
 (71)
Overall
4.6 (3683 )
5 star
 (2670)
4 star
 (730)
3 star
 (192)
2 star
 (56)
1 star
 (35)
Story
4.6 (3668 )
5 star
 (2583)
4 star
 (774)
3 star
 (217)
2 star
 (67)
1 star
 (27)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Aaron 01-04-13
    Aaron 01-04-13 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    234
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    227
    176
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    14
    60
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Exhausting, and quite dry in some places."

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    anne ATLANTA, GA, United States 11-12-12
    anne ATLANTA, GA, United States 11-12-12 Member Since 2012

    Painter/writer

    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great way to revisit this account"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    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.


    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Vadim von Brzeski Milpitas, CA United States 10-16-12
    Vadim von Brzeski Milpitas, CA United States 10-16-12 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Amazing story"
    Any additional comments?

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jonathon 09-25-12
    Jonathon 09-25-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Makes all other WWII books cry like a little girl"
    What did you like best about this story?

    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.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anthony EVERETT, WA, United States 09-12-12
    Anthony EVERETT, WA, United States 09-12-12 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    5
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A must read for any history buff"

    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.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anthony Old Bridge, NJ, United States 09-02-12
    Anthony Old Bridge, NJ, United States 09-02-12 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    32
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    81
    36
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    2
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "I can't believe i listened to this whole book"
    If you could sum up The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich in three words, what would they be?

    Detailed, Long, Insightful


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    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.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The Beerhall Putsch


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Everything you ever wanted to know about Nazis


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S. Herod Australia 09-01-12
    S. Herod Australia 09-01-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Incredibly detailed and often compelling"
    What did you love best about The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich?

    The level of detail and the author's personal insight and experiences as an observer of the Third Reich.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich?

    The description of Nazi atrocities towards the end, but also a great many of the little details


    Which character – as performed by Grover Gardner – was your favorite?

    He does a pretty good hitler


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Long


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kim GREENVILLE, SC, United States 08-27-12
    Kim GREENVILLE, SC, United States 08-27-12 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    12
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    62
    19
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Amazing and Horrifying"

    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.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dave Canada 08-20-12
    Dave Canada 08-20-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    42
    24
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fantastic - better than sitting in history class"

    I learned more listening to this book than I did in my entire semester of history. And " I am enjoying it!"

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brent Gilbert, AZ, United States 08-11-12
    Brent Gilbert, AZ, United States 08-11-12 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    60
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    42
    17
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Hard to stop listening to this one"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • Mr. Acapella
    Cornwall, UK
    5/23/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • G. Langdon
    UK
    5/14/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Amazon Customer
    Edinburgh, UK
    5/8/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Brilliant"

    Long but never got bored. Very interesting and well written. Reader is also good with pauses in all the right places.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Mr S.M.R.Plocki
    4/28/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Masterful story-telling."
    Would you listen to The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich again? Why?

    Yes, the definative account of the Third Reich, brilliantly told.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    N/a


    Which scene did you most enjoy?

    The whole is compelling, there are far too many interesting scenes to pick out one..


    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Enough to make anyone cry.


    Any additional comments?

    This should be compulsory reading for all studies in human nature and politics.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • FJ
    4/14/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Exceptional"

    Absolutely brilliant, it's the first book I've read/listened to and thanks to it, certainly will not be the last!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Kdl
    2/27/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Remarkable account"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • B. Pend
    Didsbury, Madchester
    8/24/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "FASCINATING"
    What did you like most about The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich?

    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.


    What other book might you compare The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich to, and why?

    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?


    What about Grover Gardner’s performance did you like?

    The narration is superb.


    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • N. Sumner
    North West
    7/7/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A fascinating look at Hitler's bizarre story"
    Would you listen to The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich again? Why?

    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.


    What did you like best about this story?

    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.


    What about Grover Gardner’s performance did you like?

    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.


    If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    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."


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Kieron Edwards
    London, London, GB
    6/5/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A brilliant (if long) history of the Third Reich"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    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.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    A slightly odd question to ask of a book like this. Molotov comes off well I suppose. Churchill too.


    Which scene did you most enjoy?

    Again - not the best question to ask of a history of war.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    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).

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Paul Billington
    Switzerland
    5/21/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Cute and pointless. Hobby writer."
    What would have made The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich better?

    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.


    What was most disappointing about William L. Shirer’s story?

    Baias and pointless personality digging which many historical figures would not stand up to.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Grover Gardner’s performances?

    I doubt very much.


    You didn’t love this book--but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    Poetic and clear prose.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank you.

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.