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The Long Night: William L. Shirer and the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich

3.89  ·  Rating Details ·  215 Ratings  ·  50 Reviews
The story of legendary American journalist William L. Shirer and how his first-hand reporting on the rise of the Nazis and on World War II brought the devastation alive for millions of Americans

When William L. Shirer started up the Berlin bureau of Edward R. Murrow's CBS News in the 1930s, he quickly became the most trusted reporter in all of Europe. Shirer hit the streets
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Hardcover, 288 pages
Published August 2nd 2011 by St. Martin's Press
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Mary Ronan Drew
Aug 17, 2011 Mary Ronan Drew rated it really liked it
Germany, from 1934 to 1940 was both the best place in the world for a reporter to be posted and the worse. There was so much going on: the Nazis were becoming more powerful and more violent, they were clearly remilitarizing, and they had begun systematically persecuting the Jews. One crisis after another was created by Hitler: occupation of the Rhineland, dismissal of the terms of the Versailles treaty, invasion of Czechoslovakia, the Anschluss, the Nuremberg Laws, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, t ...more
Lauren Albert
It is the fact that Shirer, though brave, was not fearless, that makes his time in Nazi Germany so amazing. Wick's, through heavy use of Shirer's diaries of his time in Berlin, makes the frightening climb of the Nazis to power vivid. You can feel what it must have been like to wait for the doorbell to ring and find a soldier standing ready to convey the order your deportation, to stand while the Nazi censors struck black lines through your stories, to worry that your writings--as carefully self- ...more
judy
Aug 27, 2011 judy rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, history
If you're looking for an eyewitness account of Hitler's rise and the war, this is not your book. Go to Shirer's Berlin Diary or his classic Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. If you're fascinated by great journalism, Murrow's boys and the painful moral dilemmas of deciding what to report while the Gestapo looks over your shoulder, this is the book. Murrow put his life on the line reporting from the blitz but IMHO Shirer's gig in Berlin was much worse. He could see early on what Hitler's intention ...more
Robert Morrow
Jan 20, 2012 Robert Morrow rated it it was ok
A tale of occasionally gripping scenes overwhelmed by too much repetition and filler material. Occasionally the writing seemed more geared towards high school students than adults, with simplistic retelling of well-known historical events adding little to the narrative. Generally, the second half of the book, dealing with Shirer's period in Berlin is more interesting than the first half, but the ending (the escape to America) is anti-climactic. Better to read The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich ...more
Mike Gabor
Apr 01, 2014 Mike Gabor rated it really liked it
A very good accounting of Shirer's time in Nazi Germany in the 1930's. The author makes extensive use of Shirer's notes and journal entries to piece together his time spent there. Shirer was one of the few journalist who saw the threat posed by the Nazis from the beginning. It was interesting to see how he tried to balance his desire to really be informative with the restrictions placed on him by the regime. Also interesting was his efforts to help some people escape Germany. If you've read any ...more
Margaret Sankey
Jan 11, 2012 Margaret Sankey rated it it was ok
Using the Shirer papers at Coe College in Iowa, Wick reconstructs the six years Shirer spent in Germany (1934-40) and his encounters with the formation of the Third Reich--which is useful in thinking about his later construction of the big history, published in 1960. The problem is that Wick just isn't a very good writer (drops people into the narrative without explanation, gets hung up on minutiae of travel arrangements for unimportant trips, stops in 1940 with a sketchy epilogue, states flat o ...more
Tim
Jul 31, 2011 Tim rated it liked it
It sticks out on almost any bookshelf. Like the cover, a white circle appears in the center of the jacket spine, the antithesis of the black that otherwise fills the space. In the midst of the circle is black again, but in the shape of the Nazi swastika. The title, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich , is in gold at the top. It is as if the cover symbolizes what is within, history viewed as a recounting of the rise and destruction of evil.

Considering it was nearly 1,300 pages long, the book wa
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Paul Fidalgo
Aug 13, 2011 Paul Fidalgo rated it really liked it
From my blog Near Earth Object.

Readers of my blog may already be aware of my deep affection for the thousand-plus-page tome The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, journalist William Shirer's invaluable 1960 history of Hitler and his Germany. It was with great delight, then, that I was made aware of a history of that history, Steve Wick's The Long Night, telling the story of Shirer's years covering the tumult in Europe, mostly from the eye of the storm itself, Berlin.

Though I feel it is missing a

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CS
Nov 18, 2011 CS rated it really liked it
The tale of William Shirer's time in Berlin reporting on the rise of Nazi Germany is a fascinating one, as exciting as the best wartime suspense novel. Even though we know Shirer survives to write the landmark "Rise and Fall of the Third Reich," author Steve Wick still manages to make the reader fear for Shirer's safety as he broadcasts from the midst of British aerial assaults on Berlin, flies on a plane with iced over wings, and travels to the war front to observe firsthand the Nazi blitzkrieg ...more
Dan Durning
Oct 09, 2012 Dan Durning rated it really liked it
Shelves: vienna
For anyone interested in William Shirer’s life and times, he left little unrecorded in his published diaries and memoirs. His Berlin Diary published in 1941, was followed by a snarling sequel, End of a Berlin Diary (1947). His memoirs included the three volume Twentieth Century Journey: The Start, 1904-1930 (1976); The Nightmare Years, 1930-1940 (1984); and A Native’s Return, 1945-1988 (1990). Also, he wrote Midcentury Journey (1952) that covered the first fifty years of his life in summary form ...more
Converse
William Shirer was an American journalist who covered Germany in the 1930s and early 1940s. After graduating from Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in the 1920s he traveled to Paris and began his journalism career. After various jobs working for American newspapers and a wire service in Paris, Vienna, and then Berlin, he landed a job with CBS to arrange radio programs from Europe. At the time, no one at CBS, including Edward Murrow who hired Shirer, was actually broadcasting a news program from ...more
Kelly
Dec 07, 2011 Kelly rated it it was amazing
I picked this book up to read after listening to a lengthy NPR interview with the author, Steve Wick, a few months ago. As a moderate WWII history buff (you know, did my college thesis on WWII, love reading about the stuff, but have stopped short of dedicating my life to it), I enjoy this era. The book is part-autobiography and part history of the period from the mid-1920's in Germany through late 1940, when WWII was raging. It follows the life of William Shirer, the author of The Rise and Fall ...more
Steve
Mar 17, 2013 Steve rated it really liked it
In limning the journalistic life of William Shirer, who found his place in the sun while covering the darkness of Nazi Germany, my one-time colleague Steve Wick avers he's not a historian, but a journalist himself, and that in writing "The Long Night" he chiefly aspired to penning an adventure story. In this, he largely succeeds. "The Long Night: William L. Shirer and the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" is a welcome synthesis of Shirer's three career memoirs (as well as much other archival mat ...more
Krystal
Aug 02, 2011 Krystal rated it really liked it
The Long Night is a very powerful nonfiction book. The plot concerns Hitler's rise to power and the destruction that ensued after. Shirer, the main character, was the only reporter who reported every brutal event. He was one of the few not to fall for Nazi propaganda while still remaining (for a little while) in Germany and among the soldiers and Nazi elite. The author has the ability to make the events appear as if they are occurring right when the reader is reading about them. The atmosphere a ...more
Sandra Stiles
Dec 28, 2011 Sandra Stiles rated it really liked it

William L. Shirer was journalist who took chances many others wouldn’t to get the truth out. Most of this story took place in Berlin at the height of Hitler’s reign. I can’t imagine what it would have been like to not know who to trust, not know if you were going to get your information out or not. The stress alone knowing that you could be booted out of the country and denied access to what was really going on around you while fighting to stay alive from the bombings had to have been horrible.
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Zora
Oct 31, 2013 Zora rated it it was ok
In no way is the tepid rating a reflection on Mr. Shirer, his life, his diaries, his work, or his heroism as a journalist in Nazi Germany. We are reminded, in excerpts from his diary and letters, that Shirer extemporaneous is a much better writer than Wick revised and edited.

Wick has some especially odd moments here. On page 79 he seems to not know that Spain is in Europe. (Really. I re-read the sentence three times, and that's what it says.) He refers to two instances of Shirer falling in love,
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Julie
Jan 10, 2012 Julie rated it really liked it
Shirer certainly lived in interesting times. His first journalism assignment was at the rather unglamorous copy desk at the "Tribune." On the other hand, it was Paris and the time was the 1920s. His coworkers included James Thurber who brought him a copy of "The Great Gatsby" hot off the presses and then later brought over the author himself. Readings at Shakespeare and Company, long conversations in the cafes and walks through the streets of the city of lights filled Shirer's days there.
What a
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Wesley
May 14, 2012 Wesley rated it really liked it
Interesting account of Shirer's years in Germany leading up to the outbreak of WWII. This book complements In The Garden Of The Beasts about Ambassador Dodd. It is still amazing to read about how Hitler carried of his rape of Europe while the major powers stood by and watched.
One interesting question raised by this author deals with the extent to which even liberal leaning reporters like Shirer failed to take issue with the Nazi war against the Jews in Germany as it was happening. One wonders wh
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Pamela B
Feb 09, 2013 Pamela B rated it really liked it
Short, gripping, a good introduction to Shirer and his journalistic efforts in Germany during the Third Reich. For me it brought out the moral issues associated with being willing to be the Nazi's dupe in reporting their propaganda in order to be allowed to stay behind the lines in Germany. It took courage and self-sacrifice to do so, but I'm not really sure it was the correct choice. In addition, I was struck by how Shirer always put his job ahead of the well being of his family - dashing about ...more
Charles M.
Jan 26, 2015 Charles M. rated it really liked it
Despite a tough journalistic career, William Shirer was always in the right place at the right time during Nazi Germany's invasion of Western Europe during the 30s and 40s. He retold this story in his numerous books, which were actually journalistic memoirs, such as "Berlin Diary"...however his big bestseller, written after he was terminated by CBS, was "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" during the early 60s, which sold an unbelievable million copies in hardcover and remains the definitive h ...more
F.C. Etier
Aug 10, 2011 F.C. Etier rated it it was amazing
Here's an excerpt from my review published 8/21/2011

Resentment towards the government fueled by a series of financial scandals, “...all having the same pattern. Crooks, with the aid of bribed cabinet members, senators and deputies, were able to set up in business, including banking, and then, when they were caught, evade trial or have their cases continually postponed or the charges quashed, sometimes by the minister of justice himself, who was in on the deal.”

Sounds like today’s headlines. It c
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Bethany F.
Nov 24, 2014 Bethany F. rated it liked it
A very thought provoking delve into the life of a dedicated man, the role of journalism, and the stage of World War 2. It is somewhat confusing what sort of book it's supposed to be while it flops between a biography, straight history, and opinion and defense. I would have been able to place it and enjoy it a lot more if the author's notes were and introduction instead of an afterword. Generally, the writing isn't extraordinary which I always find harder to deal with when it is a book about a fa ...more
KOMET
This was a richly informative, well-fleshed out book about William L. Shirer's life as a journalist/radio correspondent in Nazi Germany between August 1934 and December 1940. The author also sheds light here on Shirer's overall career as a journalist, which began after his college graduation in 1925, when he travelled to Paris, where he managed to get a low level position with the Chicago Tribune. In reading this book, I learned a lot more about both Shirer the journalist and the man.

I highly r
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Mary Kristine
Sep 03, 2012 Mary Kristine rated it liked it
I wrote my brief review prior to reading Dwight Gardner's Aug 9, 2011 NYTBR. "Mr. Wick brings little perspective to bear..." I concur! The book appears to be the author's need to justify the actions and writings of Shirer's reporting his 6 long years of the Nazi regime. Far from an analysis of man within the situation it is more a reworking of the _Berlin Diary_ with annotations. Perhaps the need to be important that Shirer expressed in his work has rubbed off on Wicks. But the impartiality did ...more
Daniel
Oct 16, 2012 Daniel rated it really liked it
The author successfully describes the social and political settings from an insider's perspective. Shirer understood that he was a privileged witness to history making events and he was deeply troubled by what he was seeing. Looking at the era by narrating what was going on for Shirer the man, brings to life the deeply unsettling emotions of what one must have felt at the time. The world was not ready to face the reality of nazism and this narrative shows how difficult of a task it was to provid ...more
Chris
Aug 03, 2012 Chris rated it liked it
Shelves: wwii, world-war-ii
Although the story itself is a good one, and the writing was well-done, I'm too much a fan of Shirer's writings themselves to enjoy a book about Shirer's experiences that draws so heavily on the writings of his that I read. I did like the research on their acquaintance Helene from Vienna and the information about him in later years, but was hoping for more of that information, having read a few of Shirer's books. For others who want a good overview of some of the interesting points of Shirer's t ...more
Marianne
May 05, 2014 Marianne rated it really liked it
This is not the most complete book I've read about Germany between the world wars, but it is one of the most suspenseful. William Shirer, who worked as a wire service reporter in Berlin, walked a terrible tightrope - trying to tell the truth about what was going on inside Nazi Germany without enraging the Nazi minders who watched his every move. After the war, Shirer would write the best-selling "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich."
The Book : An Online Review at The New Republic
WILLIAM L. SHIRER, born in 1904, was one of the twentieth century’s great reporters. He witnessed many of the key events of the 1930s in Europe at first hand and wrote and broadcast about them in a graphic and accessible style, making their complexities comprehensible to his readers and listeners back in the United States.Read more...
Becky
May 12, 2012 Becky rated it really liked it


If you have any interest in the Nazi regime and some of its oppressive tactics prior to war in Europe and the deterioration of society under National Socialism then this is the book for you. Well written, moves along fairly well. Shirer is depicted as a sympathetic character with many faults and flaws. Following my recent read of In the Garden of Beasts this tied in very well. Full of the same locations and people.
Brett
Feb 20, 2014 Brett rated it liked it
William Shirer wrote extensively about his own life. He published the diaries of his time in Berlin during WWII and included many personal experiences in his epic The Rise and Fall of Third Reich. Later, he published a three volume autobiography. I find Shirer and his story very interesting, so I've read most of this. Unfortunately, while Wick's writing is good, and this book is well researched, it is more interesting to read Shirer's story in his own words.
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