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The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich Audiobook

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

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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

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  •  
    Rahni 04-27-17
    Rahni 04-27-17 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    14
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    51
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    "Didn't want it to end"

    I’ve been inundated lately with examples of the necessity of the written record, the power of witness, and importance of personal testimonies (such as journals and diaries and such) in the study and understanding of history. Everyone’s heard the a variation of the lamentation regarding history (“Those who do not study/know/learn history are doomed to repeat it”), including me. I’ve heard it, agreed with the sentiment, and nodded my head sagely, but it was kind of just an intellectual acknowledgment of an inherently logical statement. The more and more I read about history, however, the more fervently I’ve become a proponent of these wise words. Like any “convert” to a belief, I find myself wanting to constantly drag people (the willing and the unwilling) into historical discussions (well, not always so much discussions as me prattling on about the points of interest regarding whatever topic I’ve been lately reading about, but most of the time it’s a back and forth conversation).

    Seeing the events of WWII from the other side of history was so eye-opening! I'd always viewed it from the comfort of the future, knowing the Nazis would fall and the European countries would regain their independence from the German oppressors. But really? I had no idea how close they came to a true and lasting domination of the continent. Nearly all I had read about WWII before focused on the terrible, inhumane, nearly incomprehensible history of the Holocaust. And, though I value and treasure that important history, it is also enlightening to learn so much more about the other (many) injustices, aspects, theatres, etc. of this global war.

    This book is made all the more valuable for the keen insight of a tireless investigator and eyewitness, William Shirer. I loved the frequent references of his proximity the action (“I happened to be in Vienna that day,” “In my diary that night, I noted . . .”, etc.). It is a thorough examination of a turbulent time—it is comprehensive (and massive), yet readable and engrossing.

    Though it is a mighty thick book (and a mighty long listen—57+ hours!), I would love to dive back in again to learn more the 2nd time. But there are just so many books waiting for me in my “to-read” queue! I’ll let this one sit and simmer and revisit it another time. (I’m a firm believer in re-reading; hopefully, that’s not just an indication that I can’t absorb something sufficiently the first time.) :o)

    Having read a bunch lately about WWI and WWII, it really amazes me how far towards friendship that the nations of the EU have come in the years since. I wish I had started delving into this topic before visiting Europe with my niece last summer. Our ignorance towards history, and Europe, and, well, even current events was especially evident in Prague and Berlin. The marvelous tour guide in Prague was quite happy and proud about the existence of the European Union, comparing it to the United States (different entities working together and such), and at the time I was like, "Yeah, it's okay impressive." Now, though? Having read just how much happened between these countries so recently (respectively), I'm absolutely amazed.

    I'm looking forward to reading ever more books and learning about this fascinating and pivotal time period.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Irfan Ali Khan 04-27-17 Member Since 2016
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    "An eye opening journey through the darkest dangers of human frailty, and how it came about."

    Growing up in a place like Pakistan, where history is taught somewhat as a vacuous subject, this book helps to underline the huge disparity between progressive democracies and totalitarian dictatorships, helping to provide meaning and understanding to this dark period in human history. It is a stark warning to the dangers that surround young democracies, the fragility of human psychology, the importance of accurate histories and progressive national mythologies, and above all, the tragedy of mankind's journey in its pursuit of civilization.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jonathan 04-26-17
    Jonathan 04-26-17 Member Since 2017
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    "Excellent history"

    Very long but well worth it. An insightful and engaging history by an eyewitness backed up by extensive primary source research​.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anthony Howes 04-25-17 Member Since 2017
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    "Must read for those interested in WWII."

    Overall = 5 out of 5.
    Best book I have listened to on Audible. For me, 5 stars is reserved for truly extraordinary books, and this book fits that bill. Comprehensive and well written/read, I have recommended this book to everyone I know that is interested in history.

    Story = 5 out of 5.
    This book details everything one would hope to learn about Hitler and how decisions were made by Germany leading up to and during World War 2. The book analyzes the people involved and the decisions made by German leadership that impacted so many people from around the world. Decisions on battle plans, diplomatic relations, propaganda campaigns, and the holocaust are all presented at length. The book starts with how the Third Reich, and more specifically Hitler, rose to power, and ends with Hitler’s death in the his bunker in Berlin.

    Performance = 5 out of 5.
    The narrator was excellent in tone and pace.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daniel Foster 04-23-17 Member Since 2017
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    "One of the best history books I've read"

    Easily one of the best books on Nazi Germany that I have ever read/listened to. The only minor, and I mean minor, point that I think is worth mentioning is the author's attitude towards homosexuals. He consistently refers to it as a perversion towards the beginning of the book, going as far as even saying that one of Hitler's cronies being a homosexual helps explain why someone would be that way (embracing the brutality Nazism). Also, it was a little disturbing to see the author go out of his way to say that Hitler tolerated gays in his ranks in the early years, insinuating that Adolf Hitler was more tolerant than he was on the issue.

    That all being said, I don't think it takes away from the book at all. It's a very minor issue that is only talked about in the brief period between the creation of national socialism and Hitler being named chancellor.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ron 04-21-17
    Ron 04-21-17 Member Since 2015
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    "Excellent"

    This work and it's reading are excellent. I would recommend this to anyone who wants a clear and unabridged understanding of Nazi Germany, it's people, it's leaders, and it's life. Absolutely outstanding.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alidia 04-21-17
    Alidia 04-21-17 Member Since 2016
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    "slightly dated"

    full of great perspectives and information that would have been lost to the sands of time, however on light of information since revealed some of the content is dated. Hitler's "lack of monetary desires" is laughable given information currently available, but otherwise it is a well written source of history and engaging in its audio presentation.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Airmike3 04-17-17
    Airmike3 04-17-17 Member Since 2016
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    "Excellent history of the 3rd Reich"

    Awesome narrator for an excellent history of the 3rd Reich. If you love history and enjoy historical books, this book is one you should read

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    matt 04-16-17
    matt 04-16-17 Member Since 2017
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    "A story that must be told. "

    Understanding such history is essential to understanding the present, and considering the future.

    Hatred, and fury is flaring up around the world once more, and unfit men finding their way to the heads of some of the world's most powerful countries (if the weren't already there).

    At this moment in history, as we move towards either extinction or a new era, we must reflect on what's happened on Earth in the past 100 years and make a clear and intentional decision about what comes next.

    Hopefully we choose to make peace for All.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jim Cordice 04-15-17
    Jim Cordice 04-15-17
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    6
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    "An Unbelievable and Excellent Work..."

    History speaks for itself! What else can be said or added? A very frightening documentary.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • Richard
    rochester, United Kingdom
    12/7/10
    Overall
    "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.

    41 of 41 people found this review helpful
  • Colin
    Birmingham, United Kingdom
    2/18/11
    Overall
    "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.

    34 of 35 people found this review helpful
  • Martin
    Carnforth, United Kingdom
    1/17/11
    Overall
    "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.

    11 of 11 people found this review helpful
  • Stephen
    London, United Kingdom
    5/2/11
    Overall
    "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.

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • Nick
    Chelmsford, Essex, United Kingdom
    2/25/11
    Overall
    "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.

    40 of 43 people found this review helpful
  • Paul Conder
    Auckland New Zealand
    2/15/11
    Overall
    "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.

    25 of 27 people found this review helpful
  • Kirstine
    Bonnyrigg, United Kingdom
    3/28/11
    Overall
    "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.

    16 of 18 people found this review helpful
  • Mair
    Co LeitrimIreland
    10/11/10
    Overall
    "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.

    22 of 26 people found this review helpful
  • Colin
    WATFORD, United Kingdom
    6/3/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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..

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • John
    County Cork, Ireland
    9/17/11
    Overall
    "A Superb Book"

    This is easily the best audiobook I've listened to. It is a fascinating story, brilliantly written and expertly narrated. I had some misgivings about downloading it at first as I felt the 57 hours duration would be too daunting but I quickly became drawn into the amazing story and I finished it in 6 weeks. I frequently gasped in astonishment at some of the details recounted and once, while I was on an early morning walk on holiday in Spain, I had to stop for a few moments so shaken I was at a German officer's eyewitness account of the killing of Jewish men, women and children at a location in the Ukraine. It seems scarcely credible that horrors such as that should have occurred only 70 odd years ago and perpetrated by a nation that prided itself on its civilization and culture. Shirer shows how the German people fell under the spell of the demonic genius Hitler and it was not broken until his death. This great book is a salutary reminder of the utter evil of Nazism.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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