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 twentieth 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, 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.
The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich is a vast, 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.
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"Shirer was an American journalist who lived in Nazi Germany until Hitler expelled all foreign reporters. He knew Hitler's older half-brother who owned a bar in Berlin. He was an eyewitness to many of the events described in the book. This is a very readable yet detailed account of Hitler and his improbable rise to power and a great history of World War Two. If only England and France had stood up to Hitler before 1939! Shirer mentions that after England convinced the Czech government to capitulate in 1938, the German generals who examined the Czech defenses concluded that an invasion of Czechoslovakia would have been very difficult and costly to the Wehrmacht."
Robert (5 out of 5 stars)