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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

Average Customer Rating

4.7 (7343 )
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  •  
    Greg 09-18-16
    Greg 09-18-16 Member Since 2016
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    "Fantastic!"

    This book is incredible. Extremely thorough and very well read. It covers Hitler from his youth right to the very end. Full of political intrigue, you will never get bored even though this book is very long.

    Anyone interested in Hitler and Nazi Germany should listen to this.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mike K. 09-12-16
    Mike K. 09-12-16 Member Since 2015
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    "Truth is 'stranger' than fiction..."
    If you could sum up The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich in three words, what would they be?

    More of a "primer" on events leading up to and occuring during WW2, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich is still a fantastic, authoritative, and breathtaking account of the actors and circumstances that occurred during this period.<br/><br/>While listening, I at times paused to ruminate on exactly what was happening because it was often almost impossible to believe. Such an incredible story; such a horrific and sad tale of insanity, corruption, racism, murder, and destruction.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    All were fascinating, and in the case of Hitler and his inner and extended circle of cronies, also terrifying.


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

    Gardner's performance in reading this tome was wonderful. Perfect voice for it.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Far too long for that! But it kept me interested the entire time.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James 09-11-16
    James 09-11-16 Member Since 2016
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    "The perfect amount of detail"

    although a very long book the author provides just enough information to make the story come alive and intimate the exact feelings of the time and situation

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    tmfnyc 09-09-16
    tmfnyc 09-09-16
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    "Superb Detail"

    Excellently researched detailed book which is nevertheless a page turner. Can't wait to relisten to it!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Charles 09-05-16
    Charles 09-05-16 Member Since 2016
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    "Unbelievably well researched!"

    Enlightening to the last. Incredibly long yet worth every second of your time! The first hand accounts given and documentation are very needed to believe such an outlandish history.

    We may not want to believe that it happened or can happen again, but as history shows us over and over again, what we want is rarely what happens.

    I would recommend the study of this text to anyone seeking to gain knowledge on any event in conjunction with World War 2.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    T Berg 09-01-16
    T Berg 09-01-16
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    "Fun read; very biased"

    Excellent performance.
    Shirer is extremely biased despite claims not be. Can't blame him for not defending Hitler but this book is extremely polemical and reading of more serious works reveals that shirer is really not suited for history considering he lived thru the events and saw it in such an American way.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Freddy Bastiat Clearwater, FL United States 08-31-16
    Freddy Bastiat Clearwater, FL United States 08-31-16 Member Since 2015
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    "Riveting and disturbing."

    One of the best books I have listened to. Will probably listen to again in a few years given the detail it contains. I found myself listening to certain sections over again as the information it contained about the evil regime was either brand new or opinion changing. Highly recommended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Dach 08-26-16
    J. Dach 08-26-16 Member Since 2015
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    "Best audiobook I've ever heard."

    57 hours of riveting historical tales. Author and narrator each deserve top marks. will re-listen

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shaune 08-23-16
    Shaune 08-23-16 Member Since 2013
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    "A Classic"
    Where does The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This book would rank among one of the top books I have listened to.


    What about Grover Gardner’s performance did you like?

    An excellent speaker. Clear enunciation allows you to really crank up the speed without losing audibility!


    Any additional comments?

    This is a classic written by an eyewitness observer who is fluent in the German language. This book was written in 1960 after years and years of poring through documents.The book is dated. Bear in mind the author is a conservative protestant American and is consequently pious about sexual matters in a way which seems offensive today. That said , he was a journalist in Germany at the time and witnessed first hand many of the events in the lead-up to war. The author confesses his biases and has tried to back up most of his views with historical documents. I still think this is an excellent and highly detailed introduction to what happened. After reading this I hope to read books written by more recent historians to see what new information has come out since this one.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ernesto 08-15-16
    Ernesto 08-15-16 Member Since 2014
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    "wow. I mean really... WOW"

    Super long book!! but totally worth it. I learned so much. I bought it as a joke but learned to really appreciate the history this book provides.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • 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.

    40 of 40 people found this review helpful
  • Colin
    Birmingham, United Kingdom
    2/18/11
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    "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.

    32 of 33 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
  • 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
  • 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.

    9 of 9 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.

    24 of 26 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
  • Heather
    Forneth, Perthshire
    5/3/11
    Overall
    "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.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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