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)
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.
"Detailed, Scholarly, Insightful and Compelling."
Highly detailed and insightful - Shirer was there in Munich and Berlin for many of the key events of the 1930s, and at the start of War. When he wasn't present himself, he cites a huge archive of captured documents and other references, which makes for a highly evidenced history of the rise and demise of Hitler and National Socialism.
What I like too is, though he often refers to Hitler as an "evil genius", he is fully human: erratic, ruthless, creative, angry, compelling, a manipulative liar, and espousing a flawed philosophy made up of half baked German Romantic ideas of Race & Destiny. The chapter on the origins of his Nazi ideas, picked up as a vagrant in Vienna: a mix of Nietzsche and Wagner but also inspired by relative unknowns like Houston Chamberlain & Joseph Arthur Comte de Gobineau is especially interesting, and goes some way to explain why the Nazi mythology of racial superiority, Teutonic virtues and the "will to power" of the "Ubermensche" had such archetypal influence with the humiliated German people of the time.
The book also explains Hitler's thinking behind some of the more disastrous decisions he made, and how his vindictive rages, blaming of others, and refusal to back down or retreat was in the end his undoing, but how it could so easily have gone the other way.
The strong narration by Grove Gardner is pitched just right, in "American documentary" style. It adds credibility to the history being related. Overall, though over 50 hours long, I found this audiobook compelling.
"Lost a star for the last 7 minutes"
Overall this book is definitely worth reading/listening to for anybody interested in history and in the second world war. there are so many details and insights that you never find in the typical sources, it's amazing. The author put in a huge effort to go through all the sources. However, I can't help be outraged by the author's own lack of tolerance and xenophobia, which makes him very hypocritical. On several occasions he refers to homosexuals as perverted deviants. I know this was the general mind set in the 50 when he wrote the book so I tried to tolerate it. But then the last 7 minutes are a post script written in the 90s after Germany's reunification, in which he keeps talking about the "German problem" and dreading that it's going to start another war of conquest. He ends up talking about how nowadays the hydrogen bomb would end such wars and how it would "unfortunately wipe out the world but at least end the German problem"... This is sickeningly xenophobic and sounds way too similar to Hitler's rants about the "Jewish problem", with which the author is all too familiar. I'm not German but still these last 7 minutes just ruined my respect for the author and my enjoyment of the book.
If you want a comprehensive narrative of the Nazi's you can't go far wrong with this book, it's long but worth it
"Thorough, compelling and dumbfounding."
This is a long account of a historic period and wont be for everyone but in terms of the non fiction in my library it is one of the best I've listened to so far. As WWII is one of my particular interests this work is a good single work covering a dumbfounding set of happenings.
The fact that it is drawn from actual captured Nazi documents rather than hearsay or dubious eye witness testament as a lot of other works in the 10 to 15 years post war make this an enduring and well documented account.
Not applicable as there are no characters to speak of but Grover does read this incredibly well and it is largely attributed to his oratory skill that the listener's interest is held.
A lesson in History
One of the best and most complete accounts of what and how Hitler came to power with enough background to the situations, politically and globally as they arise. My main tip for listening to this is that being fully awake helps and I particularly took more information in when I was driving but that was purely my own experience.
"A good read."
I have to admit that my first thought on completing this audio book was 'thank f**k for that'. At over 50 hours in length, even listening at 1.5 playback speed, it's, 'reading' this book took a long time.
This book excels as a potted history of the Third Reich. Long though the book is, don't expect detailed descriptions of the battles of WW2, many are covered in a few paragraphs or less. Still, it kept my attention all the way to the end, recommended even if you only ever read it once.
Narration was good.
....but worth every minute. It's the most comprehensive story of the 3rd Reich I've read.
"Outstanding and Essential"
One of the most important history books based upon captured documents written. The audible version is narrated with care and brings atmosphere to its content.
Never before has a book to moved me. Definitely a keeper to relisten to again - very large, very detailed, great narritive - same narrator as the Laws of Success I believe.
An epic piece of work. This audiobook gives a fantastic insight into how Hitler duped a whole nation.
A long book, but such a fascinating story, told in amazing detail. I admitedly did not know much about Hitler and world war II, but I certainly do no.
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