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

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Hitler boasted that The Third Reich would last a thousand years. It lasted only 12. But those 12 years contained some of the most catastrophic events Western civilization has ever known.

No other powerful empire ever bequeathed such mountains of evidence about its birth and destruction as the Third Reich. When the bitter war was over, and before the Nazis could destroy their files, the Allied demand for unconditional surrender produced an almost hour-by-hour record of the nightmare empire built by Adolph Hitler. This record included the testimony of Nazi leaders and of concentration camp inmates, the diaries of officials, transcripts of secret conferences, army orders, private letters—all the vast paperwork behind Hitler's drive to conquer the world.

The famed foreign correspondent and historian William L. Shirer, who had watched and reported on the Nazis since 1925, spent five and a half years sifting through this massive documentation. The result is a monumental study that has been widely acclaimed as the definitive record of one of the most frightening chapters in the history of mankind.

This worldwide bestseller has been acclaimed as the definitive book on Nazi Germany; it is a classic work.

The accounts of how the United States got involved and how Hitler used Mussolini and Japan are astonishing, and the coverage of the war-from Germany's early successes to her eventual defeat-is must reading

1614 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published October 17, 1960

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About the author

William L. Shirer

143 books772 followers
William Lawrence Shirer was an American journalist and historian. He became known for his broadcasts on CBS from the German capital of Berlin through the first year of World War II.

Shirer first became famous through his account of those years in his Berlin Diary (published in 1941), but his greatest achievement was his 1960 book, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, originally published by Simon & Schuster. This book of well over 1000 pages is still in print, and is a detailed examination of the Third Reich filled with historical information from German archives captured at the end of the war, along with impressions Shirer gained during his days as a correspondent in Berlin. Later, in 1969, his work The Collapse of the Third Republic drew on his experience spent living and working in France from 1925 to 1933. This work is filled with historical information about the Battle of France from the secret orders and reports of the French High Command and of the commanding generals of the field. Shirer also used the memoirs, journals, and diaries of the prominent British, Italian, Spanish, and French figures in government, Parliament, the Army, and diplomacy.

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Profile Image for Julie.
Author 6 books1,765 followers
September 1, 2012
Three years ago I implemented a personal tradition: to read a "Monster Classic" each year. This is my term, referring to a piece of writing that is great in reputation and girth. The how and when of it is to begin the Monster mid-summer and read it in fits and starts over the course of several months, with a goal of finishing before the end of the year. The why of it isn't so simple. Most avid readers I know have daunting lists of books they want to or feel they should read. I'm no different, but life is too short for shoulds. I'm after something that will change the way I look at writing, at storytelling, at the world.

Without intention, my Monster Classics have been built on the premise of, or are greatly informed by, war. Two years ago I read Thomas Mann's The Magic Mountain, an allegorical tale shaped largely by Mann's reaction to World War I; last year, Tolstoy brought me War and Peace, that gorgeous and profound tale of Russia during the Napoleanic era.

This summer I turned from fiction to narrative non-fiction. World War II has long fascinated and disturbed me. I've sought, without success, to reconcile the incongruous romance of this war - the films, music, literature that conjure a sense of the heroic and of solidarity, the "Greatest Generation" united as Allies - with its human suffering so incomprehensible that the mind struggles against its limits to accept what the eyes witness in words and photos.

I selected The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich for perhaps the same reason that millions before me have: to understand how one man created a machine of slaughter out of a country in shambles. After 1264 pages in six weeks, I am still bewildered. Of course I knew the external conditions: the carving up of Germany after WWI, the political disaster that the Treaty of Versailles put into motion, the desperate economic conditions in Germany as the Depression ground what little economy it had left into grist. But this diminutive Austrian who so captured the imagination and bent the will of a once-proud nation -- how did he do it? Why did he? And why did so many follow him into the hell of his creation?

William Shirer, a longtime foreign correspondent, worked in the Third Reich from 1934 to 1940, leaving only when it became clear he and his family were no longer safe. He returned to Germany in 1945 to report on the Nuremberg trials. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich was published in 1960, barely a generation after the end of the war.

Because of Shirer's proximity and access to the majors players of the Third Reich and certainly because war was exploding all around him, the book has an immediacy and intimacy that sets it apart from a traditional historical examination of events. It also contains Shirer's interpretations, suppositions and ruminations.

As an American of German-Italian-Norwegian descent, I had a very hard time with Shirer's characterization of Germans as possessing a predilection for cruelty and war. There are few nations that remain exempt from this pointed finger. But it begs the question that even Shirer could not answer: how did the atrocities of the war escape the outrage of the German people? Shirer presents clues and circumstances which serve as a caution to us all. And many of which I recognize in today's socially and politically polarized America that feeds on propaganda and is increasingly indulgent of politicians' idiocy and rejection of facts.

The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich is thick with military history - this is a book about war. That may seem obvious, but do not expect a sociological narrative. Shirer is a great journalist, which assumes certain skill in telling a story that will appeal to a lay audience. But this book, after its introduction to Hitler and his early life, uses the major events, invasions and battles of World War II to show the creation of an empire.

It is a testament to Shirer's skill that I became so caught up in the details of Hitler's conquests and defeats. Although I have read books about individual battles, I have never followed a comprehensive history of the European theatre. It was astonishing to read on-the-ground reports as nearly all of Europe fell at Germany's feet in a short period, then to sit above it all and witness Hitler's increasing megalomania that spelled out his downfall.

It is dense. It is detailed. It is exhausting, exhaustive, overwhelming and shattering. To read The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich is to have your heart broken again and again. Yet, to hold history at arm's length is to guarantee that it will be repeated.

2 reviews9 followers
June 1, 2019
Well, I did it. After two years, I have finally finished this beast. The first 600 or so pages are pretty slow, but it flies after that...

We all know the story- a misanthropic, racist, vegetarian, megalomaniac failed artist writes a book that taps into age-old German prejudices, seizes power, and embarks on a quest for European domination. In the process he starts the biggest war in history leading to the deaths of tens of millions of people, subjugates about a dozen other countries, and systematically exterminates the majority of European Jewry. The "Thousand Year Reich" only lasted a total of 12 years, 4 months, and 8 days, but during that brief span it wrought havoc and destruction on scale never witnessed before or since.

William Shirer was a journalist, *not* a historian, but his narrative style coupled with the fact that he lived in Germany during the majority of the time Hitler was in power lends this book both readability and a level of believability that no historian could possibly achieve. Several parts are indeed personal narrative in which Shirer lends his own perspective on what he saw happening, though he is careful to point out which sections are taken from historical records and which are colored by his own experience. The book is thoroughly footnoted (to the tune of about a footnote per page- it takes almost as long to read the notes as it does the main text), indexed, and overflowing with "I didn't know that" moments. It doesn't dwell on minutiae, nor does it give a blow-by-blow account of the war, but nevertheless it attempts to tell a huge story, and the result is a huge (1300+ pages in the printing I own) book.

The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich was published in 1957, a bare 12 years after the "Fall" that occurs at the end of the story. However, it is very easy to see why it remains today- 50 years after its release- the definitive work on the Nazi regime. I highly recommend it to anyone who shares a passion for history or who is fascinated by the factors that lead to societies devolving into statist forms of government. I also recommend it to anyone who believes that appeasement and "negotiation" is an acceptable means for handling such regimes (that means you, Barack Obama...). Sections of it (if not the entire book) should be required reading for all high school students. Only by understanding the past may we secure our future.
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,867 reviews16.5k followers
February 11, 2017

You boil this book down, strip it to the foundations, and what the reader finds is darkness of the human soul. Bred in the alleyways and gutters of Vienna before the first World War, this was the angry and hateful opposite of God’s shining light, the ancient shadows that live in the basement of our souls, given life and expression on the palette of a failed artist.

Shirer’s scholarly, exhaustive masterpiece paints the portrait of the Third Reich from its beginnings in the back rooms and beer halls of Munich to the terrible, gruesome end in all its grisly, dark detail. The author, a journalist in Germany before and during the early years of the Nazi regime, describes how this political movement began and how it came to power on the backs and in the bloodied fists of brown shirted ruffians.

To draw a modern parallel, it would be as if our country was taken over by a street gang, as if the Bloods and Crips gained political power and ascended the White House and took over. From the September 1938 Sudetenland grab and the failings of Neville Chamberlain, to the horrid crimes that went on behind the lines, to the final days that saw a once proud Europe reduced to rubble, Shirer also details World War II from the Nazi perspective.

Like Milton’s Paradise Lost and Shakespeare’s Richard III, the central figure in this epic tragedy, the most intriguing character, is a villain. But unlike Satan and the House of York English King, Hitler rose from the depths of poverty and mediocrity. Shirer reveals Hitler as intelligent and deterministic, but pathologically, sociopathically twisted to evil. The author also shows the German leader to be hopelessly, and in the end, pathetically, delusional.

Perhaps Shirer’s most compelling observation, though, is his uncompromising portrait of the German people who allowed the monstrosity of National Socialism to come to power and to become accomplices with the Nazis in horrors on a scale previously unimagined.

Finally, Shirer begs the question of whether we owe a higher duty than to our country, and his answer is an affirmative and decisive “yes”.

Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,566 reviews56.6k followers
November 30, 2021
The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany, William L. Shirer

The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany is a book by William L. Shirer chronicling the rise and fall of Nazi Germany from the birth of Adolf Hitler in 1889 to the end of World War II in 1945. It was first published in 1960, by Simon & Schuster in the United States, where it won a National Book Award.

The book was feted by journalists, as reflected by its receipt of the National Book Award for non-fiction.

But the reception from academic historians was mixed.

عنوانهای چاپ شده در ایران: «ظهور و سقوط آدولف هیتلر»؛ «جهان پرفراز و نشیب آدولف هیتلر»؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش روز نهم از ماه فوریه سال1994میلادی

عنوان: گردونه تاریخ جلد سی و نه: ظهور و سقوط آدولف هیتلر؛ نویسنده: ویلیام شایرر؛ مترجم: کاوه دهگان؛ تهران، فرانکلین، سال1341؛ در182ص؛ چاپ دیگر تهران، علمی فرهنگی، سال1372؛ در231ص؛ موضوع: ادبیات نوجوانان - داستان آدولف هیتلر از سال1889میلادی تا سال1945میلادی از نویسندگان ایالات متحده آمریکا - سده20م

عنوان: جهان پرفراز و نشیب آدولف هیتلر؛ مترجم: هرمز همایون پور؛ تهران، کتاب روشن، سال1389، در248ص؛ شابک9789649681290؛

کتاب در چهار بخش است: «ظهور آدولف هیتلر»؛ «هیتلر آلمان را فتح میکند»؛ «هیتلر اروپا فتح میکند»؛ «سقوط آدولف هیتلر»؛

عنوان کتاب اصلی «طلوع و غروب رایش سوم، تاریخ آلمان نازی» است، «آدولف هیتلر»، در روز بیستم از ماه آوریل سال1889میلادی، در شهر «برانائو - آن - ده این، اتریش» واقع در مرز «اتریش» با «آلمان»، زاده شدند؛ «آدولف» نخست میخواستند، به سلک هنرمندان درآیند، اما پدرشان سرش داد کشیده، و گفته بود: «هنرمند!»؛ «نه! نه! تا وقتی من زنده ام هرگز!»؛ او هرگز نقاش نشد؛ گرچه «هیتلر» تا آخر عمر، هماره خویش را از جرگه ی هنرمندان میدانستند؛ همین سرسختی پسر در برابر پدر، هنگامی که او هنوز پسرکی کلاس ششمی بود، نشانگر اراده ی استوار ایشان، تا پایان عمرش نیز، با او همراه بود؛ سپس رخدادهایی همانند «وارد سیاست شدن»؛ «توطئه آبجو فروشی»؛ «کتابی که نوشت»؛ «عشق و عاشقی»، «حرکت به سوی قدرت سیاسی»، «پیشوا و دیکتاتور»؛ «پیروزیهای بی خونریزی»؛ «راه اندازی جنگ جهانگیر دوم»، «پیروزیهای شگفت انگیز نخست»، «نقطه عطف»؛ «نظم جدید هیتلر»، «توطئه برای کشتننش»؛ «فروپاشی آلمان»، «مرگ آدولف»؛ اینها هر چند عنوانهای واقعی بخشهایی از این کتاب نیستند، اما برای جستجوگران شاید راهنمایی باشند، از اینکه چه رخدادهایی را در این کتاب خواهد خواند

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 29/01/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ 08/09/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Mark Lawrence.
Author 72 books51k followers
January 22, 2023
This is quite a dry book full of technical detail about the state of Germany, of its politics, and, as promised, the rise of the Nazis.

Buried deep inside is a brief section (copied below) that looks up from the statistics of the holocaust to give this harrowing eye-witness account, which has stayed with me for the 30-odd years since I read it. Particularly, the part where the girl points to herself and says her age - probably because I was around that age when I read it.

It is difficult to believe these things happened. But they did. Even more difficult to understand that on a smaller scale things like this still happen time and again.

“Without screaming or weeping these people undressed, stood around in family groups, kissed each other, said farewells and waited for a sign from another S.S. man, who stood near the pit, also with a whip in his hand. During the fifteen minutes that I stood near the pit I heard no complaint or plea for mercy… An old woman with snow-white hair was holding a one-year-old child in her arms and singing to it and tickling it. The child was cooing with delight. The parents were looking on with tears in their eyes. The father was holding the hand of a boy about 10 years old and speaking to him softly; the boy was fighting his tears. The father pointed to the sky, stroked his head and seemed to explain something to him. At that moment the S.S. man at the pit shouted something to his comrade. The latter counted off about twenty persons and instructed them to go behind the earth mound…

I well remember a girl, slim and with black hair, who, as she passed close to me, pointed to herself and said: “twenty-three years old.” I walked around the mound and found myself confronted by a tremendous grave. People were closely wedged together and lying on top of each other so that only their heads were visible. Nearly all had blood running over their shoulders from their heads. Some of the people were still moving. Some were lifting their arms and turning their heads to show that they were still alive. The pit was already two-thirds full. I estimated that it contained about a thousand people. I looked for the man who did the shooting. He was an S.S. man, who sat at the edge of the narrow end of the pit, his feet dangling into the pit. He had a tommy gun on his knees and was smoking a cigarette.

The people, completely naked, went down some steps and clambered over the heads of the people lying there to the place to which the S.S. man directed them. They lay down in front of the dead or wounded people; some caressed those who were still alive and spoke to them in a low voice. Then I heard a series of shots. I looked into the pit and saw that the bodies were twitching or the heads lying already motionless on top of the bodies that lay beneath them. Blood was running from their necks. The next batch was approaching already. They went down into the pit, lined themselves up against the previous victims and were shot. And so it went, batch after batch. The next morning the German engineer returned to the site. I saw about thirty naked people lying near the pit. Some of them were still alive…

Later the Jews still alive were ordered to throw the corpses into the pit. Then they themselves had to lie down in this to be shot in the neck… I swear before God that this is the absolute truth.”

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Profile Image for Nandakishore Mridula.
1,242 reviews2,256 followers
September 23, 2017
Whew! After six months of exhilarating yet exhausting reading, I have finally managed to finish this massive tome - William L. Shirer's definitive account of the rise and fall of the Third Reich under the evil and mad genius, the warlord Hitler. Hitler expected that the Reich will last for a thousand years - in reality, it lasted just over 12 years. In those twelve, the Fuehrer managed to create hell on earth for the people whom he ruled over as well as in those areas which he conquered; the war he initiated managed to destroy 50 to 80 million people all over the world.

I am not going to summarise the book here- the story is well known to most, and anyway to do that would mean writing a small book itself! Rather, let me lay down what I took away from the book: the pluses as well as the minuses.

The book is incredibly detailed. Shirer, being privy to most of the secret correspondence in the Reich archives, the majority of which survived destruction at the hands of the Nazis by a quirk of fate, puts his journalistic skills to excellent use as he tells the story of the meteoric rise and even faster demise of Hitler with consummate storytelling skill. The pace never flags and the story never fails to grip - and hardly a facet of this distressing yet fascinating era is ignored. This is the first book you should read if you want a front seat at the Hitler drama.

I found two major drawbacks to the book. One - a lack of maps, in the absence of which following the war spatially was impossible (unless you have an eidetic memory of European geography, that is). Two - the long list of dramatis personnae among whom I got lost more than once.

Shirer's book does not have any historical analysis - it's history from a journalistic point of view. However, for a layman such as me, it does not matter, because what matters is the story after all. How Hitler moved in from the lunatic fringe to the mainstream of German politics: how he used all dirty tricks in the political book to backstab his colleagues and steam roll his opponents: how the great colonial powers played hopscotch across the world stage, protecting their interests and cheerfully sacrificing those of others: and how man can be so unbelievably cruel to his fellow human being - these are some of the takeaways I have. And I believe that these are important in today's world, when once again the fringe is becoming the new normal. As Shirer says
In our new age of terrifying, lethal gadgets, which supplanted so swiftly the old one, the first great aggressive war, if it should come, will be launched by suicidal little madmen pressing an electronic button. Such a war will not last long and none will ever follow it. There will be no conquerors and no conquests, but only the charred bones of the dead on an uninhabited planet.
Profile Image for Mikey B..
983 reviews363 followers
November 5, 2012
I had read this book about thirty-five years ago. Since then I have gone through several books on World War II – Churchill’s great memoirs volumes, Toland and Fest biographies of Hitler, books on the Nuremberg trials…

So I thought that Shirer’s book would be a simple re-hash – it wasn’t.

If I were to be asked to recommend only one book on Nazi Germany this would be it. I was also very moved by the elegance of Shirer’s writing. His prose is stirring and makes these cataclysmic events of the twentieth century very vivid.

It is all here – Hitler’s rise to power in the 1920’s, the appeasement of the European powers during the 1930’s, the sordidness of the Hitler-Stalin pact and then the war itself with, for a time Britain and Churchill standing alone. Enveloping all this is the hatreds of Hitler and the Nazi party; above their hatred of the Jews and then the Slavic and Russian peoples, their hatred of democratic values (what we would now call human rights), their hatred of the Versailles Treaty.

Shirer makes no excuses for these and puts the blame squarely on Hitler and the German people. Versailles was never the humiliation it was made out to be. As Shirer points out this ‘stab in the back’ myth was also propagated by Weimar as well. Hitler knew how to rally the nationalistic fervor and pagan impulses of the bulk of his people.

All the personalities are in here – and they are a powerful and colourful lot – but sad, as both German and non-German acquiesce to the force of the German leader. Chamberlain’s fruitless efforts to achieve peace are overlooked today as he is framed with the word appeasement; but what politician today would be as honest as he was. Shirer quotes Chamberlain’s honest and touching ‘declaration of war’ speech when Poland is brutally invaded by Germany –quite possibly one of the most poignant passages in the book as the world is now stepping over the precipice into war.

Shirer uses many of Hitler’s speeches to illustrate how the German people adored their beloved leader. One is struck by how a people could swallow these words so whole-heartedly – words that are so diametrically opposed to the best values of the Western World. The speeches are filled with hatred for Jews and ridicule for the leaders of the Western World. Hitler’s reply to Roosevelt in 1939 before the war – though so successfully manipulative – is haunting in retrospect.

There are perhaps a few things left out. One is the destruction of the Polish resistance uprising in Warsaw that Stalin left to the Germans to ruthlessly suppress – with the Russian army just outside Warsaw watching as the Germans slaughtered the Polish resistance movement.
And there is maybe too much, I feel, on the Stauffenberg plot to kill Hitler. But again Shirer is correct in pointing out the hypocrisy of these ‘anti-Nazi’ conspirators who waited too long (Germany was obviously losing the war at this stage and its cities were decimated). Were they not morally inept – were they doing this to seize political power only? Were they really morally repulsed by the Nazi regime – or just mere opportunists?

As mentioned if one reads only one book on Nazi Germany this has it all. But as a warning – reading over 1,100 pages on Nazism can wear one down – it becomes very depressing. However you are left with a greater understanding of this tumultuous era.
Profile Image for Erik Graff.
5,006 reviews1,116 followers
April 5, 2013
This was the first, really serious grownup book I ever read.

My sole brother being almost eight years younger and no cousins being in the States, I was virtually an only child, condemned to the weekly dinner parties of my parents and paternal grandparents and their friends, most of them held elsewhere than our own home. At one particularly excruciatingly boring party held at Great Aunt Synnove's I was scanning the magazines and bookshelves for something to occupy the time. Being ten, the great swastika on the cover of one otherwise unknown book caught my eye. Nazis! I picked it up, checked out the maps on the inside covers and started to read . . . When, finally, they, the Old Ones, were ready to go, I was far enough into it to not want to stop. Aunt Synnove was kind enough to loan it out.

The reading went on for probably a couple of weeks. I recall reading about the Lutheran pastor, Niedemeyer (not looking it up--it may be misspelled, but I remember this in detail after all these years), who, almost alone amongst German churchmen, stood up publicly against the Nazis--and this in the backyard, at the juncture of our rickety garage and decaying white picket fence amidst the early flowers of springtime. I recall, days later, now on my sun-warmed bed downstairs at grandmother's cottage in Michigan, reading with fascinated horror about the death camps and the "scientific experiments" conducted in them.

Now a thirteen year old friend of mine has picked up Shirer, buying it in hardcover himself at a local used bookstore. He, not normally a big reader (he has a sister, two brothers and lots of cousins and friends), says he likes it because Shirer writes so clearly. Now, while all of us are, as citizens, in moral positions uncomfortably similar to those occupied by Germans sixty years or so ago, it is good to see that a book like this and the story it tells can still be read with interest by the young.
Profile Image for Esdaile.
337 reviews53 followers
August 28, 2017
I have a very strong feeling of enthusiasm and at the same time of aversion for this book, which I read when I was 16. William Shirer wrote a no-holds barred account of the rise of Adolf Hitler from the perspective of a fanatical (in the full sense of the word) opponent of everything Hitler stood for. Shirer was also a journalist writing as though he were a historian, so his writing reads easily and persuasively but is not necessarily a font of historical accuracy. Whatever one's own position, this is far and away a more honest book than many of the cold cynical assessments made after the events by historians who also have a private agenda but who unlike Shirer do not make it obvious or claim to be objective when they are no such thing. Shirer is however in my opinion,right to stress more than is often stressed, the novelty of the Nuremburg Laws, which essentially disenfranchised a large section of the population on the basis of a postulated alien ethnicity. These laws undermined the fundamental principles of citizenship as understood in Europe since the American and French revolutions and were profound and potentially murderous in their implications. Shirer also laid stress on medical experimentation on human subjects, which in my humble opinion is as close to Hell as human beings are likely to get on earth. I do not think there are any medical experiment "deniers" : of course, medical experimentation on human beings is in no way something unique to the Hitler dictatorship, but Shirer is right to highlight it as a particularly pernicious abuse of power by politicians and doctors, one which should serve as a reminder to us, if we really need a reminder, of the arrogance and ever lethal potential of the notions of so many representatives of both. It is all very well talking about controlling decadence, crime or whatever, but who controls the controllers, is a question that should never be for a moment forgotten.

I give this two stars but the two stars award is misleading in the sense that I would give his work 4 or 5 stars for readability as a breathtaking introduction to the history of the Third Reich, and 4 or 5 stars for highlighting certain aspects of that history so full of suffering and desolation, but 1 star for reliability, balanced view, veracity, objectivity. Shirer will have no track with the notion that Polish fears of Russia could have been justified, that Churchill wanted war, that in a sense whatever one thinks of him, Hitler was right in claiming that the war was between a Jewish and anti-Jewish world view, that Roosevelt was deeply anti-German and pro-Jewish, that the Soviet Union was planning a preemptive strike on Germany, that the Poles had been put up to provoking Germany and did provoke Germany and that Hitler in this case as later, with the British bombing of civilian targets, fell into a trap and allowed himself to be provoked just in the way his enemies planned he should be provoked; Shirer says nothing as I recall, about the appalling condiitons which induced many to vote for the NSDAP, and there are plenty more imbalances in this work, and half-truths and untruths besides, for there is plenty of history that Shirer does not mention, but I do not have the book any more and I read it 40 years ago. Shirer's is a book to be read by anyone interested in the time, but to be read with rather more than the proverbial pinch of salt. I was going to award this book three stars but I'll put that down to 2 to counter-balance the wave of quasi psychophantic enthusiasm with which so many Goodreads readers have greeted it. It is a deeply flawed book after all, for readibility it is up there in the top rank, for historical balance, down far below.
Profile Image for Brett C(urrently overseas again).
784 reviews165 followers
June 19, 2021
This was a superb account of Nazi Germany! William Shirer was a journalist/foreign correspondent during his time in Germany from 1934 to 1940. He wrote the book based on his first-hand reporting, extensive document research, and multiple and reliable third-party evidence. The writing was clear and very thorough but not oversaturated with details to become boring. Shirer did a fine job on the narrative because it was linear and logical as to eliminate confusion.
The First Reich was the medieval Holy Roman Empire; the Second Reich had been which was formed by Bismarck in 1871 after Prussia's defeat of France. Both added glory to the German name. The Weimar Republic, as Nazi propaganda had it, had dragged that fair name in the mud. The Third Reich restored it, just as Hitler had promised. pgs. 90-1

Shirer presented a clear picture on the rise of Hitler, and his philosophy, the rise of the Nationalist Socialist Party, the Nazification of Germany, life in the Third Reich, the gradual increase of a totalitarian state, the escalation to war, both Western and Eastern Fronts, the loss of momentum towards the end, and the inevitable destruction of the Nazi regime.

I have read many WW2 and Nazi Germany books; this one should be considered the cornerstone of the entire history from that time period. I would recommend it to anyone who wants the complete story of Nazi Germany from its creation to demise. Thanks!
Profile Image for Michael Ferro.
Author 2 books212 followers
June 18, 2019
Shirer's masterpiece has long sat untouched on my shelves—it's ominous block swastika unsettling all guest who entered my home (not always fun to explain to people that you're not a Nazi...).

That said, I decided to read this book in tiny increments alongside other books for the past few months, and at over 1,000 pages, it took a bit to finally knock this one out, but wow... what a book. I truly find it surprising that authors and journalists would bother to continue to write about the Third Reich after such a complete and comprehensive book was written about that disastrous time almost a century ago.

Quite simply, we all know the basics of the story: Hitler rises to power, does some horrible things, starts a world war, and eventually falls ignominiously—but the secret to this incredible book is the amount of detail and sheer breadth of knowledge within concerning life, war, and the troublesome arch of human history.

A MUST READ... especially in these modern times.
Profile Image for BAM the enigma.
1,852 reviews360 followers
March 6, 2017
I went into this believing I had a well-grounded understanding of Prussian history and a basis of the Hitler regime. Ummm this book is everything I don't know.
I feel way over my head. There are so many layers to peel like some history-containing onion. Shirer wrote an entire college course worth of information. I regret that I will not retain it all. An impressive collection of memories and experience, we should feel so privileged to have this thorough documentation of one of the most horrific eras in modern history to remind us how easily a society can fall prey to manipulation when it believes all hope is lost and all value is expended.
I was startled to find that the experiments discussed in a previous read, Doctors in Hell, were spot on. All of them are delved into more deeply on this book. The horror takes on greater proportion when one hears it in audiobook format.
Profile Image for Trevor.
1,293 reviews21.7k followers
May 9, 2010
The detail with which this book deals with the Third Reich and the unspeakable evil that was Hitler's Germany is almost too much to take. Some of the discriptions, particularly towards the end of 'medical' experimentation, are simply too shocking and too challenging to read in one sitting. If you need to be reminded of just how evil the bastards in charge of Germany in the 30s and 40s really were then this is the book you need to read.

Like I said, the detail is mind-blowing - the story of this period of history still seems incomprehensible. I dare you not to be horrified by this remarkable book
Profile Image for Mohamed Shady.
626 reviews6,642 followers
October 8, 2021

كان هتلر واثقًا أن الرايخ الثالث سيبقى لألف عام، لكنه لم يستمر لأكثر من ١٢ سنة، ولم يستمر بعد موت مؤسسه لأكثر من أسبوع واحد.
الحقيقة أنه كان من الممكن أن يستمر لأقل من ذلك بكثير، لو لم يكن الحلفاء بهذه السذاجة، ولو لم تكن بريطانيا، وعلى رأسها رئيس وزرائها، راغبين بشدة في منع حدوث حرب عالمية جديدة، خاصةً وأن العالم لم يتعافَ بعد من حربه الأولى.
وصل هتلر إلى حكم ألمانيا في عام ١٩٣٣، وبدأ على الفور في خطته لفرض السيطرة على أوروبا، ولاستعادة الأراضي الألمانية، وللانتقام من الحلفاء الذين أذلوه وأذلوا دولته في معاهدة فرساي.
منذ ذلك الوقت، أي وصول هتلر للحكم، وحتى اندلاع الحرب في عام ١٩٣٩، كان من الممكن إيقاف هتلر ورفيقه موسوليني أكثر من مرة. كان من الممكن إيقاف موسوليني، كبداية، حين قرر الاستيلاء على اثيوبيا، ثم كان من الممكن إيقاف هتلر عندما قرر إعادة تسليح الجيش الألماني وعدم الانصياع لمعاهدة فرساي. كان من الممكن إيقافه أيضًا حين قرر احتلال الراينلاند (المنطقة منزوعة السلاح)، وحين قرر ضم النمسا وتشيكوسلوفاكيا إلى الأراضي الألمانية.
لكن ما حدث قد حدث، وسياسة إرضاء هتلر التي اتبعها الحلفاء في محاولة تجنّب حرب عالمية جديدة. اندلعت الحرب العالمية الثانية بعد احتلال ألمانيا النازية لبولندا، الحرب التي ستستمر لسنوات طويلة وستحصد ملايين الأرواح وستكون هي الحدث الأكثر بشاعة وقسوة في التاريخ البشري.

عاصر الصحفي الأمريكي "وليام شايرر" هذه الحرب ورأى بنفسه الأحداث التي أدّت إليها والأثر المدمر الذي تركته.
وبالاعتماد على ملاحظاته (في سنوات عمله كمراسل في برلين)، وعلى آلاف من الوثائق السرية التي تم الكشف عنها بعد الحرب، قدّم إلينا أحد أشمل وأهم ما كُتب عن صعود ألمانيا النازية ثم سقوطها السريع والمروّع.
استمتعت بكل لحظة قضيتها مع هذا الكتاب، وأنصح به بشدة للمهتمين بهذه الفترة الساخنة من التاريخ الحديث.
Profile Image for Coffee&Quasars.
52 reviews5 followers
January 9, 2019
DNF at 25%.

This would’ve been my first deep dive into Nazi history, but after half a dozen counts of listing homosexuality in the same breath as murder, and even going as far as attributing Naziism in part to many early Nazis being prone to “sexual perversion”, I started to wonder if this was going to be a reliable history at all.

It’s my fault for not properly researching the book beforehand. It appears the consensus is that it was outdated even upon its release, and in some cases espouses opinions no actual historian has ever supported, grossly misrepresenting the German people in the process. It seems the trilogy by Richard J Evans is the way to go, so I might try that at a later date.
Profile Image for Michael Perkins.
Author 6 books356 followers
January 3, 2022

"My father, raised in Berlin under the Nazis, saw in European fascism a course that any country could take. He knew that US democracy was not exceptional in its capacity to resist the forces that shattered his family and devastated his youth. My mother, a court stenographer in US criminal courts for 44 years, saw in the anti-Black racism of the American legal system parallels to the vicious antisemitism she experienced in her youth in Poland, attitudes which enabled eastern European complicity with fascism. And my grandmother, Ilse Stanley, wrote a memoir, published in 1957, of her experiences in 1930s Berlin, later appearing on the US television show This is Your Life to discuss it. It is a memoir of the normalization years of German fascism, well before world war and genocide. In it, she recounts experiences with Nazi officers who assured her that in nazism’s vilification of Jews, they certainly did not mean her."

What we are seeing here today....



In “The Free World,” Louis Menand paraphrased Hannah Arendt to describe the early 20th-century proponents of totalitarianism as “the refuse of every class: disempowered aristocrats, disillusioned intellectuals, gangsters, denizens of the underworld. They were people who believed that the respectable world was a conspiracy to deny them what they were owed; they were the embodiments of the politics of resentment.”


“History doesn’t repeat itself, but human nature remains the same.”

― Ken Burns


Nazi tactics never seem to go away. Just watched "I am not your Negro" based on the testimony of James Baldwin. It was the incitement of hate that got Medgar Evers, MLK, and Malcom X assassinated.

Trump's chant of "send her back" already caused death threats to spike way up for these Congresswomen. Now we have this abomination....



So why aren't more GOP speaking out? Interesting you ask. One of the lessons of Nazi Germany is that indifference or cowardice can be as bad as active hostility. "it is not necessary that people be wicked, but only that they be spineless." (James Baldwin)

From other research, in addition to this book....

Nazi support started out with thugs, but eventually spread to most Christians and most non-Jewish academics and intellectuals, along with innumerable other members of German society.

But there was also a Jewish presence in the military....



from my research....

"The term "German resistance" should not be understood as meaning that there was a united resistance movement in Germany at any time during the Nazi period.....The German resistance consisted of small and usually isolated groups. They were unable to mobilize political opposition."

in other words, most of the German people of that era were complicit, either actively or passively


In his introduction, Rob Rosenbaum suggests the importance of the release of "Rise and Fall" in 1961. Up until then, he says there was a "willed forgetfulness" about what happened. This is an important point. My father was drafted the day after he finished his medical residency at Boston General and spent four years in France, sometimes under fire. But when he returned home safely, he had no sense of the big picture. For him, Shirer provided that. The author, in his Foreword, describes the treasure trove of archives he was able to consult for his book, but also admits his book is not the final word on the subject because it usually takes "decades" for historians to absorb and write about a subject this complex. But he is also aware about the need to raise consciousness about this history, sooner than later, as well as provide some of the story to people such as my late father.


Rosenbaum also makes a powerful point about Karl Adolf Eichmann based on Shirer's account in his 1961 book, one that contradicts Hannah Arendt's notion of the "banality of evil."

Rosenbaum writes:

"Shirer, who had been stationed in Berlin during Hitler’s rise, also had a take on Eichmann before he became Eichmann, the icon of evil. Shirer’s book had been completed before Eichmann’s capture. Shirer found the key damning document — the testimony of a fellow office who quoted the Chief Operating Officer of the Final Solution, Eichmann, toward the end of the war. Here was Eichmann not experiencing any regret or any of the misattributed “banality.” Instead, with a vengefully triumphant snarl (he knows who’s really won the war), Eichmann declared “he would leap laughing into the grave because the feeling that he had five million people on his conscience would be for him a source of extraordinary satisfaction.”

This, of course, is not the Eichmann of Hannah Arendt described here, who credulously bought into this “poor schlub,” pen pusher of the trial defense — just following orders, moving things along deep within the bureaucracy, “nothing against the Jew” facade. Just doing a job, according to Arendt, equally credulous about her feverishly devoted “ex-Nazi” lover Heidegger, for whom she used her influence to help in his sham postwar “de-Nazification.”


“The simple truth is that truth is hard to come by, and that once found may easily be lost again.”

― Karl Popper


A brilliant new take on Hitler and the Holocaust. Hitler's aim, the author demonstrates, was to completely eliminate the law (first in Germany, then elsewhere) and defined nation-states, so that all things were permissible, nothing was against the law, including the destruction of the Jews wherever they might reside.


Excellent review on new Hitler biography....

Profile Image for Michael.
907 reviews135 followers
December 8, 2013
I actually do hate this book, which would earn it 1 star according to goodreads' rating system, but my personal ethics prevent me from going quite so far. The reason I hate it, really, is because it remains wildly popular (you can find it in pretty much any bookstore that has any non-fiction in English at all), in spite of the fact that literally mountains of far better works on the subject have been written.

When I come back and look at it objectively, however, I have to admit that it’s not really as terrible as I imagine it to be, it’s just outdated and flawed. As an introduction to the lay-reader about National Socialism, it’s probably a decent enough starting-point. It gives a reasonable chronology and narrative of events which, if you know nothing at all about Germany or World War Two (and I didn’t when I read it, really), gives you a pretty good handle on the basics. Beginners have to start at the beginning, and this is pretty much it, so far as most people are concerned.

Shirer was working primarily off the masses of documents collected for the Nuremberg trials, which contained much important material, but had not been properly indexed or sorted, so to a large degree he looked for things he was already familiar with, “where the light was better,” as it were and missed anything that would have problematized his account. In fairness, he avoids giving credence to some of the wilder ideas that were current in the fifties and sixties, referring to the death of Geli Raubal as a “suicide” for example and does not completely buy into the theory that the SS planted a bomb at the Bürgerbräukeller that nearly killed Hitler. He states that there is “ample evidence” that the Nazis were responsible for the burning of the Reichstag, but even here he is more cautious than some writers of the period.

The reason that this book continues to appeal to Americans, however, is bound up in its flawed nature. It is written from an extremely biased pro-American perspective that verifies the myth of the “greatest generation” and the heroism of the Allies, and unquestioningly demonizes the other side. Ironically, it manages to do this without really delving into the actual horrors of the Holocaust, presenting a rather more cartoonish version of the evil of Nazism: the bad guys are Darth Vader and his Storm Troopers, while the good guys are Indiana Jones and GI Joe. It’s easy enough to see how that would appeal to people looking to be “entertained” by history, but it doesn’t constitute actual historical study.

Shirer was an American journalist, who lived in Germany until he had to leave as an “enemy alien” after Germany declared war following Pearl Harbor. He has a certain perspective on events, for that reason, but not necessarily an un-biased one. He often can’t help slipping invectives and personal feelings into the text. Ribbentrop, we are repeatedly told, was “stupid”, while Röhm is consistently described as a “homosexual pervert.” Other redundant tropes include the use of “much-vaunted” to describe the Luftwaffe and, of course “fanatical” to describe the loyalty of Hitler’s closest followers. These adjectives add little to our understanding of the time, are not justified by historical analysis, and serve to tell us more about Shirer and his audience than about the Third Reich and its leadership. On the whole I would recommend reading other, less partial accounts, but must admit that this is not the worst one available.
Profile Image for Roy Lotz.
Author 1 book8,177 followers
March 19, 2018
Reading this book is an ordeal. It is very long and very depressing. Charting the Third Reich from the birth of Hitler to the collapse of Germany, Shirer tells the whole story with the sweep of a novelist and the detail of an accountant. He wrote the book after having access to huge stores of documents captured by the Allies after the war. Diaries, schedules, testimonies from the Nuremberg trials, the minutes of meetings, and much more were the raw material marshalled to create this tome.

As is often noted, Shirer was a journalist, not a historian, a fact that helps to explain much about this book. He lived in Berlin as a foreign correspondent from 1933 to the end of 1940, reporting on the rise of Hitler and the beginnings of the war, until the threat of the Gestapo forced him to return home. This firsthand experience lent color to his narrative, but also focused his attention on readily observable events. Rather than talk of larger trends—social shifts, economic pressures, cultural developments—Shirer focuses almost exclusively on the doings of individuals in power, such as he had been reporting on.

This focus makes the narrative vivid and pleasingly concrete, but also results in a superficial analysis. A historian would naturally spend more time on the rampant inflation of the times, the institutional weakness of the Weimar Republic, the wider political trends in Europe, the mechanics of a totalitarian state, and so on. Further, Shirer’s explanation of why Germany embarked on such a destructive enterprise boils down to: because it is peopled by Germans. That is, he locates a kind of cultural essence in the German people, an essence stemming from the Reformation and especially Martin Luther, added to by Hegel and then by Nietzsche, which came to full fruition in National Socialism. But this sort of cultural essentialism is, for me, just intellectual laziness. It can be used to explain anything or everything, since these posited cultural qualities are vague and unobservable.

In any case wider historical analysis plays a very small part in this book, which is mainly a record of the decisions and actions of the leading men of the Nazi regime. That is to say that this book is a political and not a military history. The Second World War is discussed, of course, but only insofar as its developments affected or were caused by the Nazi leaders. Shirer is mainly concerned with charting the rise to power of these ruthless men: how they outsmarted the Weimar Republic leaders, fooled the international community, bullied and threatened their way to conquests, and finally instigated a war that resulted in their own ruin.

The balance of the book is tilted heavily towards the rise of the Third Reich. This can make for some dreary reading. In retrospect it is stupefying to witness how blind, inept, and spineless were Hitler’s opponents, first within Germany and then beyond its borders, until the final crisis spurred the world into action against him. Though Shirer's sturdy prose is normally quite plain and unadorned, he has a steady instinct for the dramatic and writes several unforgettable scenes. Nevertheless the scale of detail Shirer saw fit to include sometimes weighs down the narrative into benumbing dullness. The endless, petty diplomatic maneuvers that preceded the beginning of the War—negotiations, ambassadors, threats, ultimatums, calculations, second thoughts, and so on—made it a relief when the soldiers finally started shooting.

These political dealings of the Nazis constitute the vast bulk of this book. It is a masterclass in how far a little cunning, shameless lying, and absolute ruthlessness can get you. It is also a lesson in the need to cooperate to take decisive action against common threats. In the years since Vietnam, many have concluded that the main lesson to be drawn from America’s foreign policy is the folly of interventionist wars. After the First World War, the Western powers were understantly ever more chary of violence. And yet, at least in Shirer’s telling of the history, a timely show of force could have nipped Hitler’s rise in the bud. If England and France had upheld their treaties and defended their territories and their allies, Hitler could not have amassed so much power at a time when the German military was still small. (Though it must be said that Shirer’s intellectual weakness appears here, too, since he attributes this inaction to pure cowardice.)

In any case, this does bring out an interesting dilemma in foreign policy concerning the benefits and risks of violent intervention. In the case of Hitler, timely action could have prevented a disastrous conflict. And yet in many other historical cases, such as with Saddam Hussein, the threat of non-intervention was vastly overestimated, while the cost of intervention vastly underestimated. The word “estimate” is key here, since these decisions must necessarily be based on guesses of future threats and costs—guesses which may easily be wrong. Since it is impossible to know with certainty the scale of a threat that a situation may pose if left unchecked, there is no surefire way out of this dilemma. This, of course, is just a part of a wider dilemma in life, since so many of our everyday decisions must necessarily be made based on guesses of what the future holds.

You can see that this book, though a popular account, is not lightweight in its details or its implications. Yet it does show its age. Published in 1960, it was written before many valuable sources of information became available, such as the French archives. It also shows its age in its occasional references to homosexuality, which Shirer treats as a perverted vice. This is, of course, morbidly ironic, considering the Nazi persecution of homosexuals (something that Shirer fails to mention). But all in all The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich remains a gripping popular overview of this nightmarish time.
Profile Image for Maziyar Yf.
492 reviews238 followers
December 7, 2022
ویلیام شایرر روزنامه نگارسرشناس و خبرنگار حوزه جنگ آمریکایی در کتاب بسیار معروف خود ظهور و سقوط رایش سوم به گونه ای شگفت آور ، با بیان جزییات بسیار چگونگی تولد ، پیدایش ، رشد و سرانجام مرگ رژیمی را بررسی کرده است که گرچه به جای 1000 سال وعده داده شده تنها 12 سال عمر کرد اما تبدیل به تجربه ای بسیار ترسناک و خونبار برای بشریت شد .با وجود آنکه پیش از 60سال از انتشار کتاب ویلیام شایرر می گذرد اما کتاب او در میان انبوه کتاب های مربوط به آلمان نازی همچنان یکی ازکاملترین کتاب ها و یا به گونه ای کتاب مرجع است .

مشخصات فیزیکی و ترجمه کتاب
گرچه این کتاب را پیشتر انتشارات مختلفی چاپ کرده بودند اما تقریبا تمامی آنها به شدت نایاب هستند ، تنها چاپ موجود کتاب در حال حاضر مربوط به انتشارات نگاه و با ترجمه ابو طالب صارمی ایست . ترجمه او را می توان متوسط و نه چندان آزار دهنده دانست . اما کتاب مشکلات اساسی در ویرایش دارد ، انواع و اقسام اشتباهات نوشتاری را در کتاب می توان دید ، برای مثال کشور پرتغال در همه جا به شکل میوه پرتقال نوشته شده ! یا کلمات در وزیر با روز جا به جا و یا اعداد در تاریخ پس و پیش نوشته شده اند که ��ا توجه به اینکه کتاب چاپ نهم است وخواننده 400 هزار تومان برای آن هزینه کرده مجموعه اشتباهات به کیفیت این کتاب ارزشمند لطمه زده است .
کتاب در قطع وزیری منتشر شده و 1331 صفحه دارد که در صفحه 1222 کتاب تمام شده و 109 برگ مابقی آن فهرست منابع و اسامی ایست . فونت کتاب بی نهایت ریز بوده و گویا انشارات نگاه با انتخاب چنین فونتی قصد داشته مدام بالا رفتن سن خواننده و کم سو شدن قدرت چشمانش را به او یاد آوری کند .
ظهور و سقوط رایش سوم چگونه و بر پایه چه اسنادی نوشته شد ؟
از آن جا که با سقوط آلمان نازی ، نه رژیمی یا دولتی ، نه پلیس و یا شهرداری باقی نماند و کل و تمامی رژیم با هم سقوط کرد انبوهی از اسناد مربوط به وزارت خارجه ، ارتش و نیروی دریایی ، پلیس مخفی ، اسناد حزب ناسیونال سوسیالیست همانند گنجینه ای به دست مورخان افتاد ، افزون برآن و با توجه به بوروکراسی بسیار قوی آلمان مدارک گران بهای دیگری مانند یادداشت های خصوصی ، نطق ها در جلسات بسیار سری و حتی رونوشت مکالمات تلفنی سران نازی هم به شکل مکتوب نصیب مورخان و کارشناسان شد .
به همین ترتیب خاطرات مفصل ژنرال فرانتس هالدر ، رییس ستاد عالی فرماندهی نیروی زمینی آلمان به مدت 4 سال که با نظم و پشتکار حیرت انگیز گزارش روزانه و حتی ساعت به ساعت از سری ترین جلسات را نوشته بود و همین گونه نوشته های بسیار حجیم کنت چیانو وزیر امور خارجه ایتالیا و داماد موسولینی هم منبع بسیار ارزشمندی برای شایرر و سایر مورخان بوده اند . در جا به جای کتاب می توان ارجاعات فراوان ویلیام شایرر را به خاطرات این دو فرد دید .
فصل ها و مطالب کتاب
همانگونه که از کتابی با این حجم انتظار می رود شایرر تقریبا به تمامی موضوعات در مورد مورد حزب نازی ، از آغاز تا پایان یعنی هنگام تاسیس حزب ناسیونال سوسیالیست با تعداد افرادی محدود و تا لحظه پایان یعنی زمان سقوط آن پرداخته است . حجم زیادی از کتاب به چگونگی به قدرت رسیدن هیتلر در حزب خود و پس زدن و حذف دیگر افراد سرشناس و مبارزات پارلمانی و تلاش نازی ها برای به دست آوردن اکثریت در پارلمان و تشکیل دولت نازی اختصاص پیدا کرده ، شایرر حتی گریزی نسبتا طولانی هم به فلسفه غنی آلمان و فرهنگ مردمان آن زده تا بتواند فلسفه مبتذل و پیش پا افتاده هیتلر و نازی ها را شرح دهد . این بخش کتاب ضعف های دموکراسی و اینکه چقدر در برابر یک شخصیت زورگو و قلدر و افراد لباس شخصی او ضعیف و ناتوان و فاقد اراده و تسلیم بازی های پشت پرده بوده و هست را به روشنی نشان می دهد گرچه هنر سخنوری هیتلر ، تبلیغات و پروپاگاندا گوبلس و تشکیلات و سازمان دهی رودلف هس و البته شاخه نظامی آن به رهبری هرمان گورینگ و ارنست روهم را هم نباید نادیده گرفت .

قسمت بعدی که شایرر کامل آنرا بررسی کرده دوران صدراعظمی هیتلر پیش از آغاز جنگ بوده . فتوحات سیاسی نازی ها بدون داشتن ارتشی منظم و یا امکانات کافی و تسخیر آلزاس و لورن ، اتر��ش و چک اسلاواکی بدون شلیک یک گلوله و تنها با بلوف و حرف زدن گرچه دستاوردی شگفت انگیز بوده اما باز هم ضعف مفرط دموکراسی در تصمیم گرفتن را نشان می دهد ، چمبرلن نخست وزیر انگلستان ضعیف ، ترسو و سست عنصر همواره تسلیم هیتلر بوده و فرانسه هم بیشتر موارد دولتی نداشته .
مطالب کتاب در مورد جنگ جهانی را می توان به دو قسمت تقسیم کرد : پیروزی های برق آسا آلمان در لهستان ، دانمارک و نروژ و فرانسه و بلژیک و هلند ، نبرد بر فراز آسمان انگلستان ، حمله به بالکان و نبرد بارباروسا و پیروزی های شگفت آور اولیه در خاک روسیه بخش اول و سه گانه العلمین و شکست مارشال رومل از انگلیسی ها ، استالینگراد و نابودی ارتش ششم و پرل هاربر و ورود ایلات متحده به جنگ بخش دوم یا شروع پایان رایش سوم را تشکیل می دهند .
شایرر اما به جزییات نبردها و جنگ ها نپرداخته ، او جنگ را به شکلی کلی دیده و نتیجه آن ها را هم از بُعد استراتژیک و چه سیاسی بررسی کرده است .
قسمت آخر کتاب هم شرح سقوط همه جانبه هم ارتش آلمان در تمامی جبهه ها و فروپاشی عصبی و جسمی هیتلر تا آخرین روز زندگی پرداخته . پیشوایی که شایرر در این بخش ترسیم کرده تفاوت چندانی با یک دیوانه و مجنون ندارد . ردپای هیتلر را می توان در تمامی شکست های آلمان دید . مشخص نیست که فرمان مشهور او یعنی عقب نشینی ممنوع ، حتی یک گام جان چند میلیون نفر را گرفت . شایرر به شرح توطئه های گوناگون عیله هیتلر هم پرداخته ، سوقصدهایی که همواره با سستی و ترس ژنرال های مختلف ارتش آلمان یا هرگز انجام نشد و یا هر بار به علتی بمب کار نکرد . یکی از مهمترین این ترورها عملیات والکوره یا والکیری بوده که شایرر همانگونه که از او انتظار می رفته با جزییات فراوان به آن و سرنوشت تلخ طراحان توطئه به ویژه فن اشتفانبرگ پرداخته.
ترور آخری که منجر به جراحت هیتلر شد جنون او را تکمیل کرد ، به داوری نویسنده آنچه پیش از آن در او خشونت بود اکنون تبدیل به ستم شده بود و آنچه در او دروغپردازی بود حال به بی شرافتی آشکار انجامیده بود . گویا مقدر شده بود که سرنوشت آلمان به این مردک اکنون نیمه دیوانه مقدر شود .
پایان کتاب هم شرح روزهای آخر زندگی هیتلر در پناهگاه امن خود به همراه افرادی ایست که پیوسته از تعدادشان کاسته می شد . که به سبب فیلم سقوط و بازی عالی برونو گانتس در نقش هیتلر ، هم فضای پناهگاه و هم شدت جنون هیتلر به شدت ملموس و قابل درک است .
پایان کار هیتلر اما انهدام آلمان نبود گرچه با وجود میل هیتلر در نابود کردن آن ، آلمان ویران شد و مردمان آن مبهوت و خون آلود و گرسنه در سرمای زمستان بی لباس و بی مسکن ، ژنده پوش و ساکن در خرابه های به جا مانده از بمباران ها به جا ماندند ، اما آنها ماندند و رایش سوم در گورستان تاریخ مدفون شد .
چرا همچنان باید ظهور و سقوط رایش سوم را خواند ؟
کتاب دید کاملی از یک حکومت تمامیت خواه ، تشکیل و زندگی در آن را نشان می دهد ، شایرر با استادی مسیر هیتلر و حزب نازی درقدرت گرفتن در چارچوب دموکراسی و سپس استفاده از آن برای مبارزه و دستگیری تمامی مخالفان خود و براندازی دموکراسی را نشان می دهد . شایرر با مهارت ناتوانی اخلاقی دموکراسی های غربی و به همین ترتیب آزادیخواهان آلمان را در برابر دیکتاتور را ترسیم کرده ، شایرر شرح داده که یک دیکتاتور به هیچ اصول اخلاقی ایمان ندارد ، همواره و در برابر همگان دروغ می گوید و کسی هم توانایی مخالفت با او را ندارد . هیتلر هم مانند دیکتاتورهای دیگر اعتبار پیروزی ها را به خود داده و با وجود قدرت مطلق و دخالت در همه چیز گناه شکست را به گردن همه و دیگران می اندازد . او در توهم مطلق ، در تنهایی و خلوت و به دور از همه زندگی می کند . او هم مانند دیگر دیکتاتورها همواره فکر می کند که کسی یا گروهی در حال خیانت و یا خنجر زدن از پشت است . او حتی یک گام هم عقب نمی رود و با لجبازی سر موضع سراسر اشتباه خود می ایستد . برای او تنها خود مزخرفش است که اهمیت دارد و بر این باوراست که در نبود او ملت آلمان لیافت زندگی ندارد .

به سختی می توان ایرادی از کتاب شایرر گرفت ، زمانی که او صرف طبقه بندی اسناد کرده ، حضور نویسنده در دادگاه نورنبرگ و تحقیقات مفصل او ، ظهور و سقوط رایش سوم را با وجود آنکه سال ها از نگارش آن می گذرد به یکی از معتبرترین و شاید هم معتبرترین تحقیق در مورد رایش سوم تبدیل کرده است .
Profile Image for E. G..
1,112 reviews673 followers
April 6, 2022
A New Introduction, by Ron Rosenbaum

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

Profile Image for Nick Borrelli.
366 reviews353 followers
February 28, 2017
Three historical periods always have fascinated me and I usually will read anything published with regard to them. The first is The American Revolution, the second is The Civil War and the third is Nazi Germany/WWII. William Shirer has penned the definitive account of this horrendous time in world history and I believe it is the most comprehensive and compelling telling ever published. I did read Richard Evans' trilogy but I still view Shirer's book as better. I thought that Evans speculated too much and also focused more on Germany itself rather than giving a more expanded view of the entire world stage during this time. Shirer does this while also having the benefit of proximity - The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich was published a mere 15 years after the fall of Germany. Shirer was also a foreign correspondent working inside Germany when the Nazis took power. That's the thing that really grabs you when you read this book. The fact that Shirer actually witnessed the gradual oppression and brutality as it was taking place gives a certain sense of realism to a time that seems so unreal looking back on it now. This book begins at the end of WWI when Germany was embarrassed and sanctioned mercilessly by the allied powers. Shirer uses this example to define what initially motivated Hitler to restore Germany to greatness - intense love of country and a desire to see that Germany exacted its retribution on the "criminals" of Versailles. Hitler simply could not tolerate the fact that Germany was militarily and diplomatically emasculated after the Treaty of Versailles. He set a course to use any means necessary and to point the finger at any scapegoat he could to begin a campaign of ethnic nationalism. Also contained in this gut-wrenching history book is a thorough description of how piece by piece and country by country, Hitler used his demented vision to take over the entirety of Europe and North Africa. The book ends with Germany's ultimate defeat and The Nuremberg Trials where many of the top Nazi leadership were tried and sentenced for war crimes. Simply a stunning book that is a can't miss for anyone who wants to know how this period of time came about. I read it with mouth agape for large portions as I could not believe that this evil was allowed to grow and thrive for as long as it did. It's not an easy read, but a necessary one I believe.
Profile Image for Jill Hutchinson.
1,459 reviews105 followers
February 22, 2010
Believe it or not, I have read this massive book twice. Shirer, who spent much of the years leading up to WWII in Germany, fills in all the blanks and tells a tale of a country spiraling into madness and the ultimate failure of the "1,000 Year Reich". Suffice it to say, this is probably the finest book ever written on the history of Nazi Germany and is a "must read" for all history lovers. "Berlin Diary" also by Shirer is a good preface to this book. Magnificent!!!!
Profile Image for Jan-Maat.
1,548 reviews1,821 followers
July 16, 2019
The great strength of this book is that it was written by a journalist. There is a simple narrative and clear prose. Best of all in a couple of places at least he draws upon his own experiences (for example a conversation with a German General during the re-militarisation of the Rhineland and seeing German troops and English prisoners of war during the invasion of France in 1940 (Shirer had been a journalist based in France from 1925 and in Germany from 1934).

Equally the great weakness of this book is that it was written by a journalist. There's no subtly, while its clarity and certainty mask the fact that it is dated now - research has moved much further on. To pick up on a few points the book is from memory relatively weak on the Holocaust, you don't get any sense of the polycentralism and factionalism of the fascist government. Shirer traces a long view or perhaps more aptly a Sonderweg from roughly Luther to the Third Reich, when, on the whole, taking a broader view of Northern and Central Europe much of what is exceptional in the German political context seems to come from the conduct of political life during the Second Empire from 1871. Shirer though, having found his story, sticks to it in the process creating a mirror image of the kind of history that political extremists on the far right themselves liked to create. In other words for Shirer Nazism in Germany was an accident always waiting to happen, this is a very comforting and simple argument which has the huge advantage of absolving everyone else, the problem with it, is that it makes explaining both the post war and pre-Nazi periods much more complicated.

Read it for enjoyment as a one volume, pacy narrative, but don't regard it as the definitive word on the subject.
Profile Image for Max.
343 reviews309 followers
November 3, 2012
Was the Third Reich an extension of the national character and value system or was it an episodic totalitarianism derived from concentration of power and fueled by modern technology. Shirer’s narrative supports the former but the latter view has many proponents. One relevant piece of history I have not seen mentioned in the context of this argument is the German colonization of South-West Africa, now Namibia. I first stumbled on this awful history in Thomas Pynchon’s excellent novel “V.”, which led me to look into it a little deeper.

Between 1904 and 1907, well before the Nazi party, Germany set out to exterminate the Herero and Nama peoples in its colony of South-West Africa resulting in over 60,000 killed. The UN designated this tragedy the first genocide of the 20th century. The colonists took the natives cattle and property, and when they rebelled with their spears, the Germans went about killing every man, woman and child they could find. This only stopped when the civilian administration objected because there would not be enough natives left to tend the colonizers stolen cattle and perform manual labor.

The horrific acts of the Third Reich were conducted in Southwest-Africa 30 years earlier: Concentration camps were set up where there was mass starvation and extreme cruelty, woman and children were kept in pens to serve as sex slaves, and even the sinister medical experiments of Third Reich were conducted first here on innocent natives. The leader of these experiments, Eugen Fischer, became the chancellor of the University of Berlin where he trained prominent Nazi physicians in the 1930’s including the infamous Josef Mengele.

Clearly the evil of the Third Reich was more than an episode. Still, I find it hard to believe that this devolution into the abyss can be explained by the traits of a single nationality. With continued advances in technology and increased ability to concentrate power, understanding how and why a society can become this evil becomes an imperative.

Check out the Wikipedia entry on the Herero and Namaqua Genocide, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herero_a... .
Profile Image for WarpDrive.
272 reviews388 followers
December 31, 2014
This is a classic. A very detailed, almost day-by-day account of this momentous period of World history. Relevant primary sources, including documents used in Nuremberg, are persuasively referenced throughout the account.
The book is an important reference to whoever is interested in the period; however there are a few issues with it:
- you can see that the author was a journalist writing as though he were a historian. On the positive side, this makes for a fresh, vivid and compelling narrative, but on the negative side there is, in parts of the book, a substantial lack of depth and of nuance, and the underlying complex background of economic, cultural, social aspects is not explored at a level that a professional historian would naturally go down to. Thus, rather than a "history" of Nazism, this should probably be described as a "chronicle" of Nazism
- the lack of accompanying maps is really frustrating at times. This is especially relevant when describing particular military events such as the invasion of Norway and of Belgium/Holland/France, where, without the support of an accompanying map, it is close to impossible to gain a real appreciation of the developments of the war.

Overall, however, it is an interesting book recommended to whoever is interested in this period. It might not be the most rewarding book for readers interested in deep historical analysis, but it provides a very interesting, vivid account of this period.
Profile Image for Tim.
135 reviews57 followers
November 21, 2022
William Shirer was an American journalist who lived and worked in Nazi Germany from 1934 to 1940 as a correspondent. His reporting of this period is incredible – he not only has great insights in what daily life was like, but he also attended many of the meetings with Hitler and other German leaders. He was there during the Nuremberg rallies as Hitler increased his grip on the country. He was there when Hitler invaded/occupied Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Poland. He was there when Hitler made his invasions on the Western front in Denmark, Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands, and France. He even traveled to France with the German army as Paris fell.

I’d love to learn more about the “story behind the story” here – I’m not sure how much personal danger he was in, and what it was like to try to fly under the radar of German authorities. Shirer doesn’t address that in this book. Though, this approach has its advantages in keeping the focus on the history and not Shirer himself.

The most memorable parts of the book for me was this period of time where he was living there and could describe first-hand what daily life was like as totalitarianism took hold and dissenters and minorities were crushed. I think it’s natural to read this book hoping for some sort of explanation to “how did this all happen”. I think I am just as confused as I was before I read the book, but there is certainly a lot to ponder.

Shirer is very blunt in describing the German population as accepting the Nazi party (sometimes quite rapturously, as shown in his description of some of the rallies), with resistance movements being small until they started losing the war. There were many who were receptive to Hitler’s message of how the country was betrayed at the end of WW1 by the “November criminals”, and there were many who were receptive to the scapegoating of foreigners and Jews. But while the Nazis gained a plurality in the vote total, they never gained a majority. Why weren’t the non-Nazis more impactful?

Part of the answer is Hitler benefited from timing. He began the Chancellorship on a low economic tide, and as fortunes improved so did the popularity of the Nazis. There were a lot of people who, while they had a job and their families were safe, weren’t really paying a lot of attention to the goon squads if they weren’t coming for them. And of course, a lot of people were just afraid.

Since it is a study of Nazi Germany and not just Hitler, you learn a lot about Hitler’s various enablers and henchmen that helped him to power. There is a lot of complexity here. There were the German politicians who were the enablers. Even though they were supposed to be the “opposition”, they made short-sighted deals with Hitler, either out of gullibility or an attempt to preserve some amount of power for themselves. As for the henchmen, each has a different story for how they got there – what their motivation was and how/if they changed over time. It’s tempting to think of them as simple cartoonish villains, but a fuller understanding of them can help understand how the power structure was built and maintained for so many years. Not that it is unfair to condemn them in the strongest terms, or even to think of them as “evil”, but just that they weren’t all the same, and were more complex than you might think.

One pattern was the continual lust for power of the various henchmen, and how Hitler was able to play this off for his own benefit. But there were also some key differences in the henchmen. Some were less submissive than others. Some had different opinions from Hitler on war strategy – for instance many of his advisors felt that Germany was not yet ready for a larger scale World War – and when Hitler wouldn’t listen, that began a period of disenchantment (but they were fine with pillaging countries that were easy to conquer). Some had more squeamishness than others about certain of Hitler’s actions, such as the crackdown in freedoms of German citizens (but they didn’t have objections to the subjugation of foreigners). And - some plotted against him and tried to assassinate him.

Shirer describes the assassination attempts in some detail. I was surprised to see how many different conspiracies there were against him, and how a significant number of high-level officials were involved. But it was disorganized, and many of the recruits to the plot were not trusted to be fully committed (for good reason, as it turns out) – which in turn made the leaders reluctant to take action. The select few times where they summoned the courage to act, it never worked.

I’ll wrap this up, even though I’ve barely scratched the surface of this great book. I’ve pretty much just taken one sliver of this book and tried to flesh out a few thoughts. One thing that immediately came to mind as I finished this book is that I’ll have to read it again. It seems like the kind of book you learn a lot more each time you read it.
Profile Image for Brad Lyerla.
208 reviews165 followers
November 19, 2022
“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” ― Voltaire (1694 – 1778)

Hitler was the master of the “big lie”. His big lie was that Germany won the First World War, but that the Weimar elites negotiated a bad peace for Germany at Versailles. (“They stabbed us in the back,” Hitler claimed.) This was nonsense, of course, but Hitler convinced more than a third of German voters that it was true.

One cannot help but wonder at the parallels to Trump’s “stop the steal” scam. Ivana, mother of Donald’s first three children, reportedly has said that Donald admired Hitler and kept a collection of Hitler’s speeches entitled MY NEW ORDER on his nightstand during their marriage. That’s a bad thing if it’s true. Trump’s black heart and mental health may be debated, I suppose. But one thing that is beyond debate is that Hitler was a monster, a lunatic and the ruin of Germany. RISE AND FALL documents all of it and in painstaking detail.

While not a flawless book, it is nonetheless a must read if you wonder how authoritarianism can arise among a sophisticated, western people. Wickedness lurks just beneath the surface of human society like a poisonous disease. It is always there, despite appearances to the contrary. And it takes only a charismatic liar to catalyze the brooding elements of society with the wickedly greedy who are only too happy to exploit the anger as a means of grabbing power. In Germany, the conservative oligopoly thought it could control Hitler and his brown shirts. No such luck and soon Hitler controlled the (formerly) influential and rich Herren and Damen.

Fortunately for the world, after an initial period of success when he caught the rest of Europe by surprise, Hitler’s fanaticism led him into a series of mistakes that assured Germany’s ultimate defeat by the Allies.

It is fascinating history and scrupulously researched. Shirer took full advantage of the documents gathered by the Nuremberg prosecutors to detail his long and inclusive description of the Nazi years, including the Holocaust. I recommend RISE AND FALL highly.
Profile Image for Todd N.
336 reviews233 followers
February 19, 2012
This book was a Christmas present from a friend, though I also bought a copy on the Kindle so that I could read it outside of my house without having to lug around a brick-like book with swastikas on it. The Kindle version is especially handy if you are not quite at the bring-Nazi-related-stuff-to-the-office stage at your job yet. (The down side of the Kindle version is that the it is horrible at handling footnotes, and this book has many that are important to the story.)

This is a strange and unique book not only because Mr. Shirer lived in Germany for more half of the Third Reich (or Reich 3.0 as we call it in Silicon Valley) but also because he had access to a massive amount of top secret documents that were captured after the war. This included Hitler's own appointment book and many importnt documents detailing military and political strategy. What do you get the fascist dictator who has everything? A decent paper shredder. That and Moscow.

He also appeared to be on friendly enough terms that he could write to (Nazi) General Halder for points of clarification.

Because this book is about 1100 pages of main text, it's a good thing that Mr. Shirer is one of the so-called "Murrow Boys." He worked closely with Murrow at CBS and did other reporting. These guys are known for their clear, direct prose, though it gets a bit purple here and there in this book. I'm prepared to forgive him for that given the circumstances.

I love reading big, epic histories like this, but here is the main problem I had while reading this one: All of the big histories I have read before this one were all ancient histories. The temporal distance between then and now allows me to detach and think about what happened then abstractly.

So Alexander killed a bunch of Persians and Rome leveled Carthage and sowed their fields with salt, but f I felt anything while reading about these events it was sort of a vague sense of awe. But it isn't really possible to get behind Hitler or Germany in this way.

For one thing WWII is still very personal. For example, my great-uncle was killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor (which I know was done by the Japanese not the Germans). One of my dad's earliest memories is everyone in his family crying when they got the news. The father-in-law of the friend who gave me this book was in Poland during WWII, and I've heard him tell some chilling stories. And I think everyone has friends whose families in Europe fled or were partially wiped out during the rise of the Third Reich.

For another thing Hitler wasn't that great of a military leader. His major triumphs were mostly political, and aside from the first year or so he didn't appear to have much of a handle on war strategy. In the introduction Mr. Shirer says in the introduction that Hitler is the last of the warrior conquerers in the vein of Alexander, Caesar, and Napoleon, but I don't agree with that.

So in 2,000 years -- about the distance between us and ancient Greece and Rome -- the events in this book will probably be seen as a particularly nasty blip in an otherwise unpleasant century, scientific discoveries notwithstanding.

But for people living now this is a thoroughly fascinating and well-written book.

It's divided into six books of unequal lengths. World War II doesn't start until half way through, at the beginning of the fourth book, so there is a lot of lead up and Hitler shenanigans until then.

The first part of the book covers Hitler's background, early life, and philosophical influences. This is where Mr. Shirer lays out his controversial thesis that The Third Reich grew out of something inherent in the German people rather than Germany merely getting caught up in the fascist vibe that was going around Europe in the '20s and '30s. He traces the seeds of Naziism all the way back to Luther. I don't know enough about history to have an opinion on this.

It also covers the early days of the Nazi party. [[[Aside: I didn't realize "Nazi" is an abbreviation for National Socialist. I'm definitely going to start calling people national socialists when they annoy me, as in "grammar national socialists."]]] Reading this part is sort of like watching The Bad News Bears with the knowledge that Walter Matthau is going to be responsible for the deaths of millions of people. The early Nazi party sounds like a bunch of loser-y misfits, and soon enough a lot of them outlived their usefulness so Hitler had them killed.

The big thing with Hitler was the way he understood and could influence politics. So if you found that whole plot line in Star Wars about how Senator Palpatine became the Emperor, then you should probably skip directly to the second half when Germany invades Poland.

Personally I found it fascinating the way Hitler played England and France like chumps and annexed more and more land. You can definitely see the weaknesses of a democratic society compared with a totalitarian society, but this is nothing that isn't already covered in Greek history.

There is a chapter about what day to day life was like during the Third Reich. It turns out that controlling media and propaganda are very important for maintaining a fascist dictatorship. Because I'm slow sometimes, my first thought as I read was that it sure was a lot like 1984.

The last few chapters in the third book are pretty tough going because it contains exhaustive detail about a lot of ambassadors running around making and breaking alliances. This is the only part of the book that is not that well-written and even somewhat repetitive. I did learn this odd fact: At the last minute an executive from General Motors personally flew to Germany to try to prevent war from breaking out. It's unclear what his motives were, but nothing came of it anyway.

The second half is the quickest 500 pages I have ever read. I've never been much interested in military strategy or wars after 1066AD, but this was just fascinating reading. We should all go to bed each night happy that Hitler screwed the pooch so bad in the way he directed the German Army. There are many points in the war where it is clear that the Axis powers could have forced a very different outcome. A few off the top of my head: holding back tanks at Dunkirk, starting the Moscow campaign a few weeks too late, not putting enough resources into Africa, holding back the Navy in the Battle of the Atlantic, holding back the Luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain.

One chapter that you may want to skip is chapter 27, which is about the New Order. This covers the treatment of Poland, the plans for Russia, the slave labor camps, the concentration camps, the death camps, the Einsatzgruppen, the infamous medical experiments, and many other horrifying things that are associated with the Nazis. One footnote claims that Himmler, the head of the S.S. mind you, almost fainted at the sight of one execution of 100 prisoners. I won't think any less of you if you skip this part. This is the first time I have ever read something that gave me nightmares.

The book ends a few days after Hitler's death. I read this chapter before starting the book, because I was always curious about the bunker and how that all went down. Badly, it turns out. Why did Hitler have his dogs killed? Why did Goebbels do what he did? I got on Wikipedia and was surprised to find that the location of the Fuhrerbunker actually has a marker.

Definitely recommended. It's a very important book. My brain is still digesting this book more than a week after I finished it, and I think it permanently altered my consciousness.
Profile Image for Morgan Blackledge.
577 reviews1,954 followers
September 26, 2020
We all know about the awful deeds of the Nazi’s.

Hitler is literally the archetypal evil bastard of all history.

That being said.

It defies the imagination exactly how bad the Nazi’s were and how tragic that chapter in history was.

It takes hard work to simply inventory the industrial scale torture, terror and murder.

All told, 70 million people died in WWII.

Many of them died in the worst ways imaginable.

We simply can’t imagine that kind of suffering from the vantage point of 70 years of relative peace and prosperity.

Suffice it to say.

We must resist the denial and pervasive under estimation of the destructive power of racism, nationalism, populism and ideological, charismatic authoritarian leadership.

As difficult as it is to remember.

It is every bit as dangerous in 2020 as it was in 1920.

Maybe even more so.

Important, crucial, timely read.
Profile Image for Matt.
3,724 reviews12.8k followers
October 6, 2014
Shirer's key piece of historical literature on Nazi Germany draws not only on a plethora of sources, but also on key documents from within the Third Reich. He uses this vast collection of material to give the reader a better understanding of the Reich during its creation, sustenance, and eventual downfall. While its length may be daunting for many readers, Shirer's analysis of the Reich argues that there are three entities that were duped at various points, leading to the success and eventual collapse of the Reich: the German people, the other sovereign states, and the Nazi Party. This analysis gives this book, oft quoted by subsequent works, its pre-eminent status and offers a helpful foundation for anyone wishing to have a greater and more intense knowledge of Hitler, the Nazi Party, and Germany's greatest gamble.

Shirer argues that the Third Reich and Nazi Party's rise to power came not from an iron-fisted power grab by a dictatorial leader, but through the democratic processes of the German legislature. Early chapters of the book discuss Hitler's soured nature surrounding German's place within the Treaty of Versailles and the subsequent creation of the National Socialist German Workers' Party, which morphed into the Nazi Party. Hitler used the democratic process to elect deputies and play a strong role in the coalition governments that ruled over Germany. Hitler used the discontent with the Treaty to fuel change and promote his party to the masses. At the polls, Germans chose the Nazis and Shirer documents their climb in popularity. When, in a position of power, the Nazis passed legislation to suspend the powers of the legislature, it was a open vote by the representatives of the German people that chose to concentrate power with the Nazis. Shirer provides numerous accounts of this, including his own journalistic filings from when he lived and worked inside Germany, to back up this sentiment.

While it is fairly evident that the world stood by and watched while the Third Reich enacted its dubious agenda, Shirer addresses some of the lesser known (to amateur history buffs) facts and events during this time. While his marches into Austria and Czechoslovakia are well-documented, the lead-up to the latter's take-over is discussed more thoroughly within Shirer's tome. Chamberlain remains the passive British prime minister therein, but the likes of the French are also implicated more readily. The same can be said of the build-up to Poland's invasion; including a strong negotiation role played by Italy's Mussolini, strong ally of Germany. Shirer posits that it may have been more out of a sense of war readiness (or lack thereof) than an utter desire for peace, but still, the narrative provides a wonderful insight and yet strong game of international 'chicken' played by Europe's powers. Even Roosevelt, sitting in Washington, offered nothing more than a tepid, chastising letter. Once war had been declared in Europe, the world powers were on the defensive, allowing the Reich to sustain itself while the European powers offer shock that such a strong Germany could have emerged from under their noses.

The downfall of the Reich began with two military gambles whose outcomes were anythin but successful: turning on the USSR and encouraging Japan to precipitate the US entry into the war. While Shirer documents at length the decision-making process Hitler undertook about the latter, hindsight shows how poor this decision was and the failed gamble not only offered another player in the Allied camp, but also forced Hitler to fight on two fronts with a decimated army. Yet, military officials did not interfere or voice concerns about this. By fuelling the fire to get the Americans into the War (through negotiations with Japan and goading Roosevelt), the Reich was sure to suffer by setting another place setting for his enemies to join the War and eventually chip away at the power he shared. Shirer presents that Hitler and Reich officials likely posited that America would focus its attention on the strong Japanese in the Pacific, which would allow the European campaign to run smoothly through to its completion. That said, the Reich did not, apparently, consider that Roosevelt would send sufficient troops to enter the European and African theatres, thereby offered the pushback needed to defeat Hitler and his Nazi armies. In the latter portion of the book, Shirer also addresses the Nazi stubbornness to accept defeat, including its leader, who would not admit that a war with so many enemies (and weak allies) could spell nothing but disaster. Shirer shows that, to the last, Hitler would not concede complete defeat, even as his military limped across the European battlefield. This stubbornness and lack of sufficient forethought cemented the Reich's place in the history books, while decimating any hope of future success for Hitler, the Nazis, or the Third Reich.

Shirer readily admits that his journalistic background and posting during part of the Third Reich's life makes his accounts highly historical in nature. He uses this knowledge and expertise to weave a personal as well as historical tale in this massive tome. He relies on a broad spectrum of documents to fully illustrate life inside Germany and the reactions to those around Europe and eventually from all parts of the world. Early portions of the book pull heavily on the biographies of some key actors within the Third Reich. These backgrounds offer a more personalised image of those who held a great deal of power within the Reich. Shirer capitalises on this ability to lay an early foundation of those who played key roles, setting the scene for latter parts of the book, in which he can keep the pace of the story moving, without requiring extensive asides. After the Nazi Party took over complete control of Germany, Shirer explores the inner workings of the newly created Third Reich primarily through the eyes of the Hitler and his party associates, examining meeting minutes, internal documents, and secret memos, all of which tell a history which is severely lacking in the Western World's scholastic and academic works, discussed below. As the book progresses, the internal discussions of the Nazis' lead-up to war is chronicled extensively, in such a way that the story is not only thorough, but told in a great narrative to keep the reader's attention at the most entertaining parts of the war and the battles that shaped the direction of history. A multi-faceted approach to the negotiated handover of Czechoslovakia in 1938 is of particular interest, in that it serves as the green light that Hitler needed to begin his march into Poland. It also illustrated Chamberlain's complete naiveté when it came to the Fuhrer, but also includes how the French were duped and Mussolini paved the way for complete success.

What makes Shirer's book stand out, aside from being a foundational document on the topic, is that much of the content has come from internal German documents that were kept secret until after the fall of the Reich, as mentioned above. These documents not only provide the inner thoughts and activities of those working in the upper echelon of the Nazi Party, but also sheds light on the Reich-centred thinking that took place from the party's inception in the early 1920s, through to its utter downfall in 1945. The reader can enlighten themselves in this behind-the-curtain look into Nazi Germany, seen through the eyes of its creators in a primarily historical view, rather than through strongly interpretive filters in which history is regularly told. This is not only highly beneficial, but offers insight where many history tomes have been lacking for those who have studied the Second World War and its build-up. One must posit how recent texts, which could have drawn heavily on Shirer's work and the documents he utilised, could be so flat and one-sided in its approach. The old adage holds true, the victors write the history, but in doing so, they completely steamroll over some of the most powerful pieces of history possible, keeping many from having to guess what was on the minds of the Nazis as they plotted Germany's expansion and how they could and would use the arguments to justify this approach.

While there are some disturbing sections to be found, no complete history of the Reich would suffice by only dusting the text with mention of the concentration and extermination camps. Shirer does not lament their presence too much, but does illustrate the historical progression of their existence and how the Reich sought to use them for their own means. Additionally, Shirer discusses some of the most odious experiments conducted on prisoners to aid in the technological advancements for soldiers. These experiments, vile in their description and undertaking, sought to help the Nazis prepare for potential disasters in the Far North and in the vast frozen tundra of Russia (after the stupid attempted invasion, of course). While gruesome, it is somewhat interesting to see how the Nazis thought and what they wanted to replicate in order to prepare themselves. Neither Shirer nor I condone what was done, but I feel that his inclusion of these tests in the tome goes to illuminate how thorough the army might have been for possible scenarios it was likely to face.

A thoroughly entertaining, informative, and educational undertaking, this massive book has been. Its size was daunting and its information an ocean through which the reader must wade. That said, it is told in such a way that all is easily digestible in portions. Well worth the investment, even if it takes a long time to synergise all that is on offer.

Kudos, Mr. Shirer for this wonderful piece of work. I am thoroughly pleased to have read it, and hope its information sticks with me for years to come.
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