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The Nightmare Years

4.23 of 5 stars 4.23  ·  rating details  ·  620 ratings  ·  32 reviews
As European correspondent for a number of American newspapers during the 1930s, William L. Shirer witnessed at first hand many of the pivotal events in the buildup to World War II.

At the Nuremberg rallies, when Hitler roared through the streets celebrating his newly-won domination of Germany, Shirer was there. In Munich, as Chamberlain abandoned the Czechs, Shirer was the
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Mass Market Paperback, 639 pages
Published June 1st 1992 by Bantam (first published 1984)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,368)
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Jamie
I really enjoyed this breezy account of life as a foreign correspondent living through the tumult of 1930s Europe, et al. Shirer lived a fascinating life...seemed to be in the right place at the right time and....I think he is adequately objective, given the emotional subject matter.

When I say 'breezy,' I say so only as compared with true scholarly historical accounts....as bloated as the historiography is, I am refreshed by this primary source. As an American reader that has spent a good amoun
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Charlie Brown
Actually, I re-read this book, which I do periodically in order to remind myself of the whirlwind that swept Europe and Asia in the 1930s.

In the early thirties Shirer traveled and reported events in India and Afganistan. Shirer lived primarily in Germany between 1934 and 1940. He observed (as a journalist) the appeasement of Hitler. He observed the Battle of Britain from the German side, and followed the German Army into France. He was present at Compiegne when Hitler accepted the French surren
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Nick Black
Written in the 1980's, well after Shirer's place in journalistic history had been cemented with The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. Reads largely as an expanded, annotated version of his Berlin Diaries, which are at times extensively quoted. Given that some of this material was also reproduced in Rise and Fall, this is the third time reading it for the dedicated Shirerist. This book covers almost the same period as Berlin Diaries (the first fifty pages or so, covering Shirer's early Chicago Tr ...more
S.A. Bolich
This is a good read, and taken for what it is--part of Shirer's memoirs--it is excellent. If you are looking for a dry, straight-up analysis or history of the lead-up to WWII, this isn't it. If you are looking for a first-person, "I wuz there" account from a guy who was lucky enough to be everywhere history was being made in Europe in the 1930s, this is it. He kept a detailed personal diary from which this is drawn, supplemented by much material from the captured Nazi archives and personal inter ...more
Julie
Read at Break the Binding

Reading Shirer’s more objective Rise and Fall of the Third Reich will be an interesting comparison. Here he doesn’t hold back [personal thoughts, negative or positive (mostly the former). He begins stating he tried writing his thoughts and opinions from the time period (decades later) and not fully in retrospect. Something I took with a grain of salt. Even with more access to information at the time and , diary entries, still everyone wants to sound “enlightened”. All th
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Brett
Very interesting book. I've previously read Shirer's famous book, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. I'd also read his Berlin Diaries, which was just the publication of the diaries he kept during the time period he lived in Berlin under Nazi rule.

This book falls somewhere in the middle. It isn't just diaries. There's more of a narrative, combining info from his diaries, his own memories (the book was written decades the Nazi era ended), and information that wasn't known until after Nazi docum
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Dpwarzyn
For all of Shirere's academic restraint in writing the totally objective Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, here he lets all spill out like guts on the floor. He is 180 degrees opposite and resorts to name-calling, insults, and strong opinions of the despicable Nazis he met and worked with while he was a radio correspondent there. Interesting.
Laura
Although written by a journalist rather than a historian, this hefty book does a great job of making history come alive -- in terms of both characters and events. His see-it-now coverage of the making of the Nazi machine is priceless. I wish that schools used books like this rather than the dry, dull textbooks that put us all to sleep!
Charles
Not quite as good as "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich," but certainly a great achievement.
Shayla
This book was very well written in my opinion. The book is a journal about the things encountered during 1930-1940. The journalist shows how horrific thing became and he doesn't hold back. The book shows how everyone goes from minding Hitler to being absolutely disgusted by him. If I had to rate this book I would give it a 4. This book actually makes you feel like you are reading the journals as all of it is happening. The author shows great details of the rise of the Nazis. If you enjoy German ...more
Paul M Steinle
Eyewitness to history

William Shirer has written a compelling personal account of the rise of Adolf Hitler in Germany during the 1930s. Hitler emerges as a duplicitous leader who lies his way to world prominence on a campaign of racial hate and terror. Shrirer describes this period with insight and precision with hundreds of personal anecdotes and telling detail, and, in the process, the reader becomes an eyewitness to the Nazi's reign of destruction and deceit.
Kris
If you are able to get past the self aggrandizement of the author, this is a great cautionary tale of what happens when leaders of free nations choose to appease dictators and, in doing so, silently condone acts of aggression and atrocity. It also illustrates how easily people are led down a path of lies with false promises and strategically placed propaganda. It is interesting to note how many parallels exist between these 1930's accounts and the world in which we live today - especially in the ...more
Carol
This book has a good deal more than straight-up information about pre-War Germany. There's material from the author's stay in India, and a wonderful section about his time in a small fishing village in Spain when that country was in turmoil. I had never really grasped the meaning of the term "The Phony War" until readng this book.
Of course, it took me forever to read, but it was well worth it. The material about the growth of Hitler's power, and about the cowardice of the Western powers even wh
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Amanda
Great book! Best firsthand account of World War II beginnings and the people involved.
Leannekahn
This book started out great, especially if you are ignorant of the details of the history of the times and want to get educated. It starts out very strong with a first-hand experience from an American in Berlin in 1938, being paid to report to Americans what is going on, but through the censorship and the nature of propaganda, it becomes a repetitive, boring account, admittedly so by Shirer in his writing. Even so, the first half of the book is worth reading, and it does inspire you to find more ...more
Erik Graff
Sep 09, 2012 Erik Graff rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Shirer fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: biography
While the first volume of Shirer's autobiography, The Start, is primarily personal, the second, The Nightmare Years, has his personal life almost submerged in the events he covered as a journalist, these being primarily the Indian struggle for independence and the Nazi rise to power in central Europe, much of which was also described in his Berlin Diary. In addition to his eyewitness accounts of political events he was also, with Edward R. Murrow, a creator of real-time radio news reporting, the ...more
Catherine Riley
This book was a very good read. The author was an eyewitness to the rise of the third reich and Hilter's hysterical, dramatic speeches. He covered this news at a great sacrifice . His baby girl and wife lived in Vienna and had to escape to
America in 1940. This book , although it did not really cover German war crimes, gave us a first hand account of what it must have been like to live during those times.
Thank you Mr Shirer and to his surviving fmaily for his scarifice.
René
Not as good as "The rise and fall of the Third Reich", Shirer goes into some name-dropping and only quotes from his own diary (not validated by anyone else) or from his other books. Too much time spent going through unrest in France prior to his assignment in Berlin. Some great passages, but most of these can also be read in "The rise and fall...". It must have been quite something, however, working as a journalist/radio commentator during those nightmare years...
Bonnie Palmer
I read this book in the early nineties and really liked it. I plan to re-read it now because I keep thinking about the lessons we have not learned from that terrible era. Shirer's reporting of the build up of Hitler's Third Reich and the subsequent deceiving of the world's powers at the time, reminds me too much of our current world situation. The one lesson we must learn is that appeasement does not work when dealing with evil.
Colleen
This book really helps you see how persuasive a communicator Hitler was and how the German people become collaborators in one of the most horrendously evil efforts to obtain world domination. I was reminded of the courage and conviction of the British who held out against all odds.
Riley
William Shirer lived the type of life that most people I met in journalism school wanted. He was in Europe during the upheavals of the 1930s, and was in Germany for the rise of Nazism and the beginning of World War II. This memoir of his shines a personal light on those years. It is a nice addition his definitive account of Hitler's Germany -- The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, which is a classic.
Kelly Mccullen
I read this guy's history of the Third Reich and then stumbled onto his memoir following the years 1930 to 1940 when he was a reporter in Berlin and Ed Murrow's colleague in covering the early war from Britain and Germany. I love history and while this is certainly not action-packed, it gives an eyewitness account to a world-changing era of world history.
Chris
William Shirer lived an exciting life, and his descriptions are well worth a read if you have an interest in reading a good story and getting a good look of what was going on in Germany prior to WWII. I also was fascinated by his descriptions of Afghanistan, since pieces of it were strikingly similar to recent descriptions I've read.
Lynne
Transcripts of radio broadcasts by an American journalist living in Berlin before and at the beginning of WW2. It really drew me in as events unfolded "real time."
It was also interesting to read between the lines, because everything he said was subject to Nazi censors.
AC
(I had mistakenly listed the Berlin Diaries -- which I have not read -- when I meant to list this book)

Fascinating, largely first-hand account by one of America's foremost war journalists. Recommened.
John
Very detailed but a good read. took me a while to finish not because it was a bad book, just a slow read. one of my favorite authors.
Julie
Oct 04, 2007 Julie rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: history buffs
Not the easiest read but very interesting and educational. It is a history of the years leading up to the rise of Hitler in Europe.
Mike Lanski
Pretty straightforward; the daily recordings from Mr. Shirer in Berlin up until the end of 1940, when he went back home.
Shital
Jan 03, 2009 Shital is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Chose this book to learn more about Hitler and World War II. Had curiosity piqued after watching the Valkyrie
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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
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More about William L. Shirer...
The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-41 The Rise and Fall of Adolf Hitler The Collapse of the Third Republic Gandhi: A Memoir

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“The National Reich Church of Germany categorically claims the exclusive right and the exclusive power to control all churches within the borders of the Reich: it declares these to be national churches of the German Reich.” 0 likes
“Most Germans, so far as I could see, did not seem to mind that their personal freedom had been taken away, that so much of their splendid culture was being destroyed and replaced with a mindless barbarism, or that their life and work were being regimented to a degree never before experienced even by a people accustomed for generations to a great deal of regimentation … On the whole, people did not seem to feel that they were being cowed and held down by an unscrupulous tyranny. On the contrary, they appeared to support it with genuine enthusiasm” 0 likes
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