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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
Excellent, and if you are interested in Nazi Germany, then a must-read. Pretty long, but very readable. (It's quite obvious the author was a journalist and knew something about putting readable prose together.
Published on March 2 2010 by AvidReader

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars mindboggling
This book was torture to read. It started off very exciting and interesting, Hitler's background and Vienna days and the formative years of the party were fascinating, but starting with the party's rise to power and with it EVERY twist and turn about how they intrigued and bullied their way to the top and then the occupation of Austria and Czechoslovakia it became...
Published on April 10 2001


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars mindboggling, April 10 2001
By A Customer
This book was torture to read. It started off very exciting and interesting, Hitler's background and Vienna days and the formative years of the party were fascinating, but starting with the party's rise to power and with it EVERY twist and turn about how they intrigued and bullied their way to the top and then the occupation of Austria and Czechoslovakia it became excruciating and suffocating to wade through. Characters appear and vanish with breathtaking rapidity never to be heard from again, or else hang around for hundreds of pages (especially Schleicher and Dahlerus) and won't go away. This book's pious and mindboggling coverage of basically only the political events comes at the expense of details about other aspects of the Third Reich (like the Ss, Gestapo, Hitler Youth, Heydrich, Speer, exactly how Germany rearmed, etc.). For example, did we really need a blow-by-blow account of every single turn and setback and last minute comeback and every trivial detail (complete with date, time and even weather descriptions!) regarding how these gangsters came to power? So often I threw up my hands and tore at my hair and screamed as I kept reading about how so and so telephoned so and so at 2 a.m. in the morning then waited all day for a reply... or how many times Hitler flew into the absolutely worst rage in his life... it was sickening enough reading about how dirty and slimy Nazi politics had been but to have every minor character unearthed and every trivial detail thrown a spotlight on through virtually all of 1500 pages including huge footnotes--the footnotes may as well have been a separate book!--it was all just too much. And Ribbentrop, whom Shirer sneered endlessly at is on practically every page in the last two thirds. If he was so pompous and intolerable, did every item in his daily itinerary really needed scrutiny? I'm not exaggerating. Except for Hitler, Ribbentrop is the leading character in the narrative; as a result, more fascinating people like Heydrich and Rommel were given short shrift. Even a little more on Himmler--heck, Streicher--may not have hurt and may have tendered the endless monotony of diplomacy and backstabbing and squabbling. I guess what I am trying to say is that if this book had been a little more well-rounded, it might have been better. I realize one could read other books for more information about other characters and events, but I really wanted it all from this book. After all it has the all-encompassing title of "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" and everyone claims it the definitive history of those days. Also, Shirer has an annoying tendency for Monday morning quarterbacking, and his personal phobias mars the seriousness of this book somewhat. Also, his prose style is distracting and ebbs as much as it flows. The acute sections on the Holocaust and the July plot however were very worthwhile. Overall, three stars. Perhaps this book was not meant to be read from cover to cover; you have been warned.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, March 2 2010
By 
AvidReader (Glace Bay, NS Canada) - See all my reviews
Excellent, and if you are interested in Nazi Germany, then a must-read. Pretty long, but very readable. (It's quite obvious the author was a journalist and knew something about putting readable prose together.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A riviting read . . ., July 10 2004
By 
Robert Wynkoop (Washington State) - See all my reviews
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On the very eve of the birth of the Third Reich a feverish tension gripped Berlin . . . Wow! what a great first sentence! Having read this book almost thirty years ago, it still remains the best and most complete history of the Third Reich I have read. Shires purpose is not merely to describe the events that led up to the founding of the Reich and its eventual destruction; but to discover and document the intrigues, treachery, motives and aberrations that precipitated its rise and fall.
I will let others review the history and critique Shire on his research, I would like to comment on the beauty of his prose as he describes what must be the most hellish and destructive state that has existed. Historians have the tendency to be dull, they get so caught up in explaining facts and documenting the movement of armies across strange and foreign landscapes, that the reader tends to get lost in a maze of statistics, foreign names, and seemingly insignificant details. Shire avoids this common pitfall. For instance, after quoting from a German generals diary which described Hitlers intentions in occupied Poland, Shire describes the Nazi intentions in vivid prose. . . Nazi terror. . . forerunner to dark and terrible deeds. . . Nazi barbarism reached an incredible depth. Although Shire, in the introduction of this book made the assertion of strict objectivity, he did not let his objectivity hide the awfulness of Nazi atrocities.
Although well written, it is not an easy book to read. Its sheer length of over 1100 pages may be daunting to the faint of heart; yet, if you are not familiar with the Third Reich and want to have an understanding of the people whom were instrumental in its raise and fall, no other book will give you better oversight and understanding of it than The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Will history repeat itself ?, April 7 2013
By 
Ronald W. Maron "pilgrim" (Nova Scotia) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
With all of the major accolades and minor complaints about this book being said in other reviews, I choose not to add my thoughts to these lists. Instead, my reading of this text brought a series of questions to my mind that I would like to share:
1. Is our country of origin more concerned with the wealth of its elite or with the futures of its poor?
2. Do we have a single political party whose main objectives are to return the country to `the United States as we once knew it'?
3. Do we, too, polarize and stigmatize certain cultures and label them as alien and non-American?
4. Are we more interested in attaining peace throughout the world or are we, too, more interested in imperialism and world domination?
5. Is there a similarity between the concepts of `the superior Aryan race' and `American exceptionalism'?
6. Do we have a American public that is now illiterate to current events or, at least, under-informed?
7. Does a certain faction of US public have a strong tendency to undermine the equalities of women, minorities and the LGBT community?
8. Are big businesses and brokerage banks actually the deciders of our economic and social futures?
9. Do we see all other cultures as being on a level that is lower than the culture that we have developed?
10. Is there really any difference between patriotism, which we are told to strive for, and nationalism, which creates chasms between countries of the world?
11. Do we have a large portion of the country that is willing to place religious dogma above humanism and civil rights?
12. Lastly, is it true that history always repeats itself to those who become fat, lazy and unaware?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Invaluable but flawed, Dec 13 1999
By 
haru (Ypsilanti, MI) - See all my reviews
Shirer's account is one of a journalist, not a historian. His facts are researched and exhaustive, but he brings no intelligent analysis to the tale. It is a book written with emotion, with prejudice.
It is an invaluable work that no student of the Great War must leave unread. But it must be tempered with more balanced works such as Alan Bullock's Hitler: A study in Tyranny and AJP Taylor's Origins of the Second World War. If you're going to read only one book about WWII, Shirer's shouldn't be it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Shirer Set the Narrative and Wrote the Blueprint, July 26 2013
By 
Jeffrey Swystun (Toronto & Mont Tremblant) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany (Paperback)
First published in 1960, Shirer's work was reviewed by historian Hugh Trevor-Roper in the Sunday New York Times Book Review. The reviewer lauded the effort of capturing the complexity and breadth of the subject so soon after events, "In ordinary circumstances it would be impossible, only half a generation after its end...to write its history." The fact is Shirer set the narrative and wrote the blueprint for all the histories on Nazi Germany that followed. Those since written are measured against his account.

The book is divided equally between the Nazis rise to power and the war. The twelve years of the promised one thousand year Reich "outdid all the savage oppressions of the previous ages". Shirer sat in an unique seat for a great deal of this being a journalist based in Germany and this serves the first half of the book extremely well. He reminds us that the Nazis persecuted Christian churches and burned the works of Thomas and Heinrich Mann, Erich Maria Remarque, and Albert Einstein. And his account of Jewish persecution and The Final Solution are stark and visceral.

This was my second time reading the book and I discovered more for the effort. I was surprised that the government previous to the Nazis was already disobeying the Versailles Treaty by secretly building submarines. Other points of interest include the Danish navy never firing a shot at invading forces suggesting some conspiracy, the courage of the Dutch army, his analysis of Mein Kampf book sales is telling, and how being sidetracked in Yugoslavia and Greece may have doomed the Nazis in Russia. He makes the point that conquering Russia was predicated on internal political upheaval and the hope that Stalin would be disposed in the process.

He misses out on the scale of complicity of the Wehrmacht in war crimes and genocide, the intervening years have yielded more evidence of their involvement. Shirer both shares and encourages a romantic outlook of Field Marshall Erwin Rommel who is consistently referred to as brave, dashing and daring while recent work is more tempered. He spends a great deal of time on the conspirators hoping to assassinate or overthrow Hitler. Indeed, the account of Von Stauffenberg's attempt alone is longer than that of the battles of Stalingrad, Kursk and D-Day combined.

I continue to be amazed by the resources and bureaucracy the Nazi regime poured into plunder, forced reparations, slave labour and genocide. Forced to tie up so much in these activities it is a wonder they could field an army. Increasingly too as I read histories of the Second World War I am struck by what a farce the Italian involvement was throughout and how the rapid fall of France not only impacted immediate events but reverberated for decades following. As always, the scale of the conflict on the Eastern front is mind boggling with hundreds of thousands of casualties in single battles and campaigns.

Once you read or reread Shirer's history it will no doubt prompt a desire to dig deeper. Recent histories that provide more context and detail are numerous. Among those I recommend are Hitler And Stalin by Alan Bullock, Bloodlands by Timothy Snyder, and Richard Evans robust trilogy of the Nazis rise to power, their time as leaders of Germany, and the war.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The ultimate book on this dark pages of history., June 4 2012
By 
Martin Hamel (Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany (Paperback)
If you want to know the whole story of Nazi Germany from the beginning to its downfall at the en d of WW2, you don't need to search any longer for a good book on the subject. This is the book you need written by someone who has lived in Germany during this era, someone who has been a witness of many of Hitler's speeches as well as being in contact with many party's officials. This book offers you a view from the inside of the Third Reich, its regime of terror and its might, how it comes into life, how France and England could have destroyed it at one point before the start of WW2 but choose to talk instead of to act unaware that they were in presence of a master of deceit and treachery in Hitler. All you want to know about the Third Reich is in this book and everything is backed up by references from first-hand witnesses as well as all the data that has been found by the Allied forces at the end of WW2. A must-read for anyone who wants to know more about this dark period of modern history, the evil genius of Hitler and his closest collaborators, the terror brought by the Nazi party upon German people and all the circumstances that helped to create the Third Reich under the iron fist of Hitler, the Nazi party, the SS and the Gestapo. A fascinating story to read despite all the evil it brought to the world in its destructive path.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An important classic....however dated...., Dec 16 2003
By 
irnmtn25 (Colonial Heights, VA) - See all my reviews
This book was one of the first histories of the Nazi era that I acquired for my library. Shirer had the unique perspective of actually being an American journalist for CBS in Berlin for many of the Hitler years. His journalistic aptitude shows itself greatly in the writing of this most important book. The book reads like a LONG newspaper article. Facts are presented and then there are extensive footnotes and references at the bottom of most of the pages for those who would like to follow up. Also, there is a wonderful index at the end of the book for those (like me!) who just want to read certain passages. Being that the length of the thing is 1500+ pages, sometimes, it is necessary to use the index!
This book is an excellent resource for someone who is just starting to learn about Nazi Germany. Shirer does an excellent job of presenting the history up to point where he did his writing. Unfortunately, his history has become somewhat dated since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 (and the Soviet Union in 1991) has allowed the secret KGB archives concerning WWII to be opened. The availablity of this new source of information may make some of Shirer's conclusions about the end of the war invalid. Therefore, I highly recommend that one also read the Ian Kershaw biographies on Hitler which were published in the late 1990's/early 2000's (Hitler: Hubris and Hitler: Nemesis). These new biographies incorporate the newest information which has been released from the KGB within their pages.
Otherwise, Shirer's Rise and Fall of the Third Reich is an excellent history and an instant classic of this most important era of the 20th Century. This book should be used as a companion to Hitler's Mein Kampf, as it will help the reader of that book to understand some of the things that Hitler talks about. However, one can read this book on its own...but you will find yourself intrigued and wanting to read more! This period of history is most fascinating, and Mr. Shirer's work makes it all the more so!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant piece of historical writing!!, Dec 12 2003
By 
Evan S. Shikora (PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA USA) - See all my reviews
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William Shirer's book is the definitive text on Nazi Germany, and shall be forever more. Anyone who has read it will be awash in the tyrannical obsessions that made 1933-1945 in Europe a true living nightmare. Although it is obviously long, with more subtitles, annotations, and footnotes than one is generally accustomed to, these are essentially to the very nature of the complex subject material. Without peer, its comprehensive study of the years leading up to WWII are both gripping and frightening. Yes, most aspects of the Holocaust (Shoah) are given short shrift, but Shirer never pretended to be a definitive expert on the subject, and other texts define the atrocities much better. What really seperates this book from all the others of its genre are the use of captured Nazi documents. Recently, I saw a 2002 documentary called "Blind Spot", about Hitler's personal secretary, Traudl Junge, who recounted the last days in the bunker under the Chancellary in Berlin. Most of the commentary she recounted were nearly composed verbatim in this book, written over 40 years ago. If one wants to learn history, and not subjectivism, then this is the account to have in your library.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Superb Historical Volume -- It Raises Some Questions, Oct. 22 2003
By 
J. Reynolds (Houston, TX United States) - See all my reviews
This book is the excellent exploration of the development of a global-class terrorist, and should be read by every adult in the Western World. It's a lesson for all of us.
That said, I have to adduce some questions. Why didn't we give Neville Chamberlain's approach more time to work? Chamberlain favored a cooperative strategy, a real appreciation for tolerance and diversity. Why couldn't the allied nations (a fine practical example of a coalition formed by several countries) have sent inspectors to ensure compliance with the Treaty of Versailles? Couldn't we have given him more time to comply?
A major question of history was NEVER contemplated: Why does this terrorist hate us? What did the allies do wrong, to prompt this uprise from a suppressed member of the Eurpean community? Aren't we supposed to be more understanding, when terrorists lash out? Where was the compassion for the plight of the Bund? These allies ended up determining that their only tactic for dealing with this terrorist was to destroy him, and neutralize him as a threat to the world. Is that the sort of inclusive thinking which about half of us today (per a survey conducted in the United States in November 2000) insist is the preferred method for dealing with terrorists?
These allies, led by cowboys Roosevelt and Churchill, simply determined unilaterally that the terrorist had to be wiped out. Can anyone call that sort of mindset "progressive"? The allies merely destroyed an entire nation -- an exemplary socialist nation which had completely banned from its shores the corruption of capitalism. No sort of liberal thinking was employed in the process.
Following victory, the allies generously took on the task of rebuilding the nation they had just finished decimating. It was a long, arduous process completely void of instant gratification, and a lot of small-minded people living among the victors complained and railed and mewed and whined that it was taking too long, that the allies had not planned appropriately for "managing the peace."
Yes, this book indeed is a fine lesson for all of us living in the world today.
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The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany
The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany by William L. Shirer (Paperback - Oct. 11 2011)
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