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

4.13 of 5 stars 4.13  ·  rating details  ·  38,172 ratings  ·  1,253 reviews
The fiftieth anniversary edition of the National Book Award-winning bestseller that is the definitive study of Adolf Hitler, the rise of Nazi Germany, the Holocaust, and World War II. This special edition now features a new introduction by Ron Rosenbaum, author of Explaining Hitler and How the End Begins.
Mass Market Paperback, 50th Anniversary Edition, 1264 pages
Published November 15th 1990 by Simon & Schuster (first published 1959)
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Wyatt Nordstrom
May 26, 2008 Wyatt Nordstrom rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone. It should be required reading.
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 systema
Erik Graff
Apr 05, 2013 Erik Graff rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Erik by: Synnove Stousland
Shelves: history
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 sw
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, bu ...more
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-holes 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, t ...more
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

The book is really long and goes into a lot of details, but that shouldn't be held against it. It seems like general knowledge about this subject is kept to the antisemitic atrocities, and stories tend to focus on concentration camps, military conflict, or underground movements and hiding. This leaves the Nazis as just some mystical thing that happened once upon a time. If there is any contextual knowledge known it is probably just remembered from highschool that the German people were
Dec 08, 2013 Michael rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: WWII buffs, Military history fans, History Channel fans
Recommended to Michael by: Serendipity
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 rea
Todd N
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 un
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 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
Everyone has that holy grail of a book. Some people work like dogs to finish books by the great Russian literary masters; others tough it out through the oeuvre of Steinbeck. They may not enjoy it, but, by G-d, you are not a real reader until you slam that back cover onto that tome of pain and frustration.

I finally finished my grail: the 1500+ page The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William L. Shirer. I labored for two months, reading mostly at home to avoid the embarrassment of busting out
My first thought at the book's end was, "I finished it!" My second thought was, "I'm not so sure I'm glad I read this." As the saying goes, ignorance is bliss. My summer spent reading this book held a dark cloud over me, which has yet to be lifted. I've spent many evenings in tears over the utter cruelty of the Third Reich.

Shirer, a noted journalist, makes it clear he is not a historian. However, the scope of information he covers and use of primary sources would prove otherwise. I find Shirer a
This book is the first real attempt at a history of Nazi Germany. As such, it is a product of its times. The book offers an incredibly detailed look at the Third Reich impossible to find in any other work, and thus rightly stands as the definitive work on the subject. On the other hand, the author is so heavily invested in making sure that no one ever develops any sort of respect for his subjects that he paints them in an almost comically unfavorable light.

While trying to put down the Nazis is a
How does one explain or begin to understand the hypnotic power Hitler had over the people? This book not only reveals details of terror unleashed by Hitler & the Nazis, but that for all his intuition & lust for absolute power, he declared "We will always strike first. We will always deal the first blow!" & he did, but was somehow propelled in his barbaric mission by the initial complacent, cautious & back step approach of countries like England & France. To quote the Czech mi ...more
In spite of its flaws, this book has one major advantage that almost every subsequent book about Nazi Germany lacks: Shirer was actually there reporting on it as it happened. He saw the ascent of the totalitarian regime and the man who built it with his own eyes, not as part of some forgone historical event, but as something that developed and destroyed with incredible speed. The inception of the Nazi state and the world war it caused with Hitler's insatiable, insane need for more land and more ...more
John Vibber
Is it metaphorically possible for a society to die of cancer? Can a mad man be so charismatic a genius that his personal malignancy becomes common belief? What fiendish ideas and values could drive such a development?

If you know about WWII, but wonder about the source of its madness, this is the book to read. It will give you the characters and events which are almost unbelievable in their deception and depravity.

This is the definitive history that people should read not to repeat history.

In many ways this was not an easy read, it took me months and I had to step away from it multiple times. In other ways it was an easy read, because Shirer is a fantastic journalist who can, seemingly effortlessly, transform tons of historical documents into a gripping, fast-paced story about a twisted, charismatic politician and the nation which, out of greed and willful ignorance, allowed him to lead them down a dark path that still today covers the German people in shame.

If you've ever wonder
Mikey B.
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 twentie
Jun 18, 2007 Tom rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: students of WWII
I remember as a child this book sitting on my parents' bookshelf, the big black swastika on the dustcover's spine looking mysterious and scary. Of course, that's what Nazi Germany was, and when I was much younger it took several tries to read this. I didn't know the history of the context of the events Shirer describes, and I didn't know what the word "historiography" meant until I was a senior in college. This book has been praised for the author's nearly unique insights as a CBS radio correspo ...more
I was a business major in college and didn't take any history courses. I found my interest in history years later. I am ashamed to say that I knew very little about WWII prior to this book. I knew Hitler was evil. I knew about the horrors of the concentration camps. I knew about the terror of the Gestapo. But that is about it.

This book was fascinating, primarily because the author was stationed in Berlin during the early Hitler years. He doesn't hesitate to add his personal recollections or opi
Deserves every bit of stature it has earned over the years. A mammoth work; authentic; robust. Shirer was one of "Murrow's boys" and did a great job. Should be read by every citizen concerned with history, power, culture, and corruption. Should be read by any internet wag who wants to refer to Nazism and Hitler in their various jeers and jibes. Don't even talk about the Third Reich until you can tackle a book like this...
Susanna - Censored by GoodReads
An important read, by a journalist who was there for much of it.
The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich describes very concisely the Nazi rise to power, their military aggression, and how frighteningly close they came to winning the war. William Shirer was a correspondent in Berlin during this era and his own experiences lace the book with invaluable insights.

Painstaking research went into the writing of this book. Much of the information comes from documents recovered by the Allies after the fall of the Reich.

Thank-God that Hitler was crazy because when you
Don't be intimidated by the 1100+ pages of "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich." It reads more like a novel than a dry historical narrative and -- trust me on this -- this book is awesome.

As a reporter for CBS, William Shirer lived and worked in Germany during much of the Nazi movement. Until he left in 1940, he saw firsthand Hitler's rise to power, the consolidation of that power, and the use of that power. As a fallible human being, his prejudices may show through at times, but this is not n
For its length and ambition, it was an extremely disappointing read for me for a number of reasons.

Most irritating was the author's very liberal use of derogatory adjectives without the least bit of justification. High Nazi officials are routinely branded stupid, ignorant or thick-headed except for Hitler who is a "mad genius". Consequently one gets the impression that Hitler was the 'evil mastermind' who orchestrated the Nazi regime free of any other influences. Ribbentrop, Göring, Himmler etc
April (The Steadfast Reader)
Mar 19, 2010 April (The Steadfast Reader) rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: WWII History Buffs
I finally finished it. This is an amazing read. Epic. It's probably the most comprehensive history of Nazi Germany ever published. The author uses his own first hand experience along with actual captured Nazi documents to tell the story. The first 700-800 pages flew by for me, then I got bogged down in the remaining 400. I think because up until that point the narrative focuses mainly on Hitler's childhood and rise to power along with what every aspect of life was like in Nazi Germany. The readi ...more
Shirer's essential history of Nazi Germany recently passed its 50 year mark, and it has held up remarkably well. The book has its flaws. Its attempt to explain the success of Nazism in Germany on the basis of certain elements of German culture and philosophy is unconvincing; the author's training as a journalist rather than a historian means that he does a much better job of telling the story than explaining its antecedents and significance; and his skepticism toward Germany after the war is not ...more
It's hard to review this book-- how do you evaluate the writing and research when you're so overwhelmed by the deeds cataloged?

That being said, I think it's something anyone who wants to understand the 20th century should read. It's a damning indictment of the global powers of the 30s and 40s (isolationism, hesitancy to strike at Germany when they repeatedly broke treaties), and it's hard to reconcile that portrayal of the US as isolationist jerks with the one we're all spoonfed from birth of t

As a history student and a fan of Gordon Craig, I avoided this one... But to criticize one must read. Observations follow:

First thing: Great use of primary sources.

Second: He apologizes at the outset that he will refrain from subjective commentary, then proceeds to do so throughout. He was a journalist and this style shines through. Some of his conclusions are, I feel, way off base. For example: There is something innate in the German character or psyche which is warlike, similarities to Gold
A.L. Sowards
This book is huge: in length, in the amount of information packed into it, and in the amount of research Shirer did. He read through so many journals, captured Nazi documents, and notes from the Nuremberg trials that it makes my head spin. I learned a lot.

If you want a comprehensive history of Nazi Germany, from Hitler taking power until his end in a Berlin bunker, this is probably the best one-volume book out there. If you are interested in a particular military campaign, you might want to loo
The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William L. Shirer is one of the most interesting historical book I have ever read in my life. In my high school days, history has always been one of my favorites subjects but I haven't done anything outside of school to expand on it. One event that has always piqued my curiosity has been World War II, specifically what happened with the German government and of course, with Adolf Hitler. I find it very hard to resist learning about the famous German dictat ...more
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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
More about William L. Shirer...
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“No class or group or party in Germany could escape its share of responsibility for the abandonment of the democratic Republic and the advent of Adolf Hitler. The cardinal error of the Germans who opposed Nazism was their failure to unite against it. ” 19 likes
“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 and uninhabited planet.” 13 likes
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