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The Third Reich at War

(The History of the Third Reich #3)

4.35  ·  Rating details ·  4,505 ratings  ·  245 reviews
The final volume in Richard J. Evans's masterly trilogy on the history of Nazi Germany traces the rise and fall of German military might, the mobilization of a "people's community" to serve a war of conquest, and Hitler's campaign of racial subjugation and genocide.
Already hailed as "a masterpiece" (William Grimes in The New York Times) and "the most comprehensive hist
Hardcover, 926 pages
Published March 19th 2009 by Penguin
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Ed Marohn Yes. It reveals how those Germans who were pro Hitler, trying to survive in bombed-out cities, began to change their loyalty; a little late as Hitler'…moreYes. It reveals how those Germans who were pro Hitler, trying to survive in bombed-out cities, began to change their loyalty; a little late as Hitler's narcissism and egomania drove the nation to total collapse. The extreme nationalism and tribalism espoused by the Nazis to make Germany 'great again' was self-serving for these zealots.(less)

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Jun 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Finally! I have finished reading this 3 volume tome on the history of Germany during the period of 1933 to 1945 on yesterday.

The first volume The Coming of the Third Reich deals with the coming in power of the Nazi party, the second volume The Third Reich in Power is about the interesting social, political and many other dimensions of German life under the Nazi rule and, finally, the third volume describes the expansion of the Third Reich and its subsequent downfall in 1945.

I liked these books f
Lewis Weinstein
This is too much of an overview to suit my need for detail. The selection of which items to include is sometimes surprising.
Sep 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-war-two
Undoubtedly the war years are the greatest challenging to approach from a fresh angle, but with his focus on the inner workings of Nazi Germany, Evans rejuvenates the bombing war by placing us under the cross-hairs in a shelter. The guns of the Eastern Front rumble at a measured distance, felt mostly in their effect on the Home Front. Similar whispers of a different sort trail out of the Holocaust - another well-trodden ground, yet one which keeps yielding fresh ashes.

Could Germany win the war
Loring Wirbel
Aug 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The final book in Evans' Third Reich trilogy was bound to be the most crisply written, if only because the subject matter demanded it. With a long and complex war to cover in less than 800 pages, the author simply didn't have the time to expand into realms that occasionally bogged down the first two books.

Evans makes clear in the introduction that this is not a book about the war itself, nor about the Holocaust. That is particularly evident in the former point. While detailed observations of t
Sep 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
The final volume of Evans' trilogy on the Third Reich, starting with the invasion of Poland in September 1939 and concluding with its end in May 1945.

The atrocities of 1940-1945 had their start in 1939 with the invasion of Poland: enslavement, mass murder, all were well-established policy and based upon racial ideology. This was done with the support of the Nazi party, the army, and masses of ordinary civilians. It was Nazi beliefs on race that accompanied the need to avoid the national humilia
Apr 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing
(Of the three volumes, I think the first remains in all aspects the best. But the whole trilogy is excellent and a sound corrective to Kershaw. It is the best and most judicious survey of the whole topic in English that I am aware of. That said, it is a long trilogy, and it is nice to have it behind me rather than before me.)

This book, as expected, is excellent -- and marks the entire trilogy as a valuable achievement. Evans is best when dealing with the more granular -- his treatment of the bro
The Third Reich at War: 1939-1945, by Richard J. Evans, is the final book in The History of the Third Reich trilogy, and an excellent conclusion to the series. Evans has written a magnum opus on the Nazi's rise to power (The Coming of the Third Reich), their rule (The Third Reich in Power), and finally, the world war they initiated, and eventually lost (this title). The Third Reich at War examines the Nazi's opening of the Second World War, beginning with political maneuverings before the war, H ...more
Mar 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
Three thick volumes is the new minimum for a survey of Nazi Germany geared toward the general reader. The final installment of this series seamlessly continues the story to its conclusion, which is welcome indeed. Being steeped in Nazi history for the duration of three long books is a fatiguing exercise in misery; one can only imagine what it must have been like to actually live (or die) amongst the carnage of such a hideous moral vacuum. "The Third Reich at War" does a spectacular job answering ...more
Feb 24, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: history, world-war-ii
After Evans' two first books in the trilogy, this came as a disappointment. I had very high expectations to read about the conditions in the Third Reich during war, learn something new about the social, economical, political etc process that took place during the war years. Instead I got a mash-up of various topics that totally lack focus and do not add much to the historiography of the third reich.

The first 400 pages, for instance, are almost wholly devoted to the war in the East and the Jewish
Patrick Cook
Nov 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Sir Richard Evans is the leading Anglophone proponent of a certain school of history. This might be termed neo-empiricism or neo-Rankeanism. He has famously defended his approach, in somewhat curmudgeonly fashion, in his book 'In Defence of History', which is widely assigned to first year undergraduates in history departments throughout the Anglophone world (and perhaps beyond). Suffice it to say that, as an academic historian of a rather different period, I have serious methodological disagreem ...more
Nov 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-war-2, history
I genuinely ask the question, what more could anyone ask for in a 3 volume history of the Third Reich? Exceptional.
Blamp Head
Please be aware that the following includes some disturbing and graphic (violent) text.

This year (complaints/observations of my own, or of people I have spoken to / seen in the news)
And back then (quotations from the book)

I ordered my lunch on UberEats and it took 45 minutes! God I was STARVING by the time it FINALLY--
"Over 300,000 Red Army prisoners had died by the end of 1941. Wilm Hosenfeld was shocked by the way in which the Russian prisoners were left to starve, a policy he found ‘so repuls
Charles Haywood
Dec 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
When reading this book, the third volume of Richard Evans’s massive study of the Third Reich, scenes from the TV show "The Man in the High Castle" kept flashing before my eyes. That show (based on a Philip K. Dick book) posits a Nazi victory in World War II, and depicts how the postwar Greater German Reich affects the people who live under it. The problem with Evans’s book is that it fails to paint such scenes for the actual Third Reich. Rather, it is an endless litany of dead innocents and how ...more
Jan 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book is (in the words of the writer) about the Germans and Germany, not about the Second World War. Having read a lot of books about the Second World war, I have found it very refreshing and interesting. It covers a lot of topics that are usually not touched upon in a book about this area. It handles the German conquests, the treatment of the Jews and other minorites by the Nazi's, every day life for the Germans during the war and economic, social and cultural consequences. If you're into h ...more
Czarny Pies
Aug 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: No one. There are too many better books available on the Third Reich.
Shelves: european-history
Those giving this work four or five stars can only have done so in order to have congratulated themselves on having had the persistence to slog their way through this tedious long work which is totally inept from beginning to end. The Third Reich during WWII is a very crowded field and every other work that I have read on the topic is dramatically better. William L. Shirer's "Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" has best focus and narrative force. Volume II of Ian Kershaw's biography of Hiltler "Ne ...more
Leo Pääkkönen
Nov 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
The legacy of the Third Reich is much wider. It extends far beyond Germany and Europe. The Third Reich raises in the most acute form the possibilities and consequences of the human hatred and destructiveness that exist, even if only in a small way, within all of us. It demonstrates with terrible clarity the ultimate potential consequences of racism, militarism and authrotitarianism. It shows what van happen if some people are threated as less human than others. It poses in the most extreme possi ...more
Mark Singer
Over then years I have read many books on the Second World War, but this trilogy on the Third Reich is up there as essential for anyone who weants to understand the conflict. This last volume in the series covers from the beginning of the European phase of the Second World War in September 1939 up until the Third Reichs crushing defeat in May 1945. Evans approaches historical events from multiple viewpoints, not just the usual top-down of leaders in most other histories. He uses journal entries ...more
3.75 stars. While there are certainly aspects of Evans's book that remove it from the typical broad appraisal of the Nazi period, there are points where he relies upon old saws, as well as some peculiar opinions, somewhat understandably but still distracting. On the whole, however, it's a very capable work and worth reading for a general understanding of the regime and the peoples who lived through it. ...more
Russ Smith
Mar 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I read this book with only a vague sense of whether I would read books 1 or 2 in this series. Reading the last book first was not a problem if the reader has a general sense of the history. However, I am now reading the others and they do build in a well structured flow.

Structured flow, well constructed, and organized are in deed words that describe this book. It is one of the best histories I have read on the topic. Mr. Evans explains the underlying motivations, the nuances and of course the d
Dave Dentel
Sep 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
History’s most notorious criminals compel a certain fascination, though we are well-advised not to become too enthralled.

St. Paul encouraged us to dwell on the true, just and lovely, a discipline no doubt meant to keep us from being enticed by the trappings of evil, the power it sometimes imbues (however briefly), or from forgetting that except for divine grace tyrants like Adolf Hitler might exist as the rule rather than the exception.

Then again, speaking the truth is always a defense against m
Urey Patrick
This the last volume in Evans monumental history of the Third Reich. It is a breathtakingly comprehensive, perceptive immersion in the society, government, economy, culture, everyday life, military and political figures, policies and programs of Nazi Germany during the war years. It is spellbinding - informative - hard to put down. Evans dispels myths and conventional wisdom about Hitler's Germany, the relentless racial impetus underlying the ideology, the ruthless nature of the regime. He provi ...more
Oct 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ww2, history
So, it took me roughly eight years to finish Evan's opus. His first two books (Coming of the Third Reich & Third Reich in Power) are perhaps the two best books I've read on World War 2, so I was looking forward to this last one. It didn't disappoint.

I almost want to go back and read the first one again--since towards the end of the war, he comments how support for Nazism had substantially dried up throughout Germany--but I vaguely remember political charts in the first one showing how enthusias
Aug 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Ah yes, "The Third Reich at war": the critically acclaimed World War 2 book with almost none of the actual straight up, front line war in it. Following the style and approach that was introduced in the first two books, Richard J. Evans' trilogy ending work focuses primarily on domestic events in Germany (and occupied territories), trying to show how the life was organized, and how the death was industrialized by the ruling Nazi structures, in the period of 1939-45.

Along with the ever present abu
Adam Balshan
3.5 stars [History]
Richard J. Evans writes a magisterial history of the Third Reich, in three volumes spanning 2,000 pages. This review will combine content from all three books: The Coming of the Third Reich (2003), The Third Reich in Power (2005), and The Third Reich at War (2008).

Writing: 3 stars
My rating system is a bell curve, so 3 stars for writing actually constitutes the top 25%. Evans writes in fairly good academic prose that almost never devolves into pedantry. The syntax does not suff
Nov 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Excellent history of broad scope and deep thoughtful analysis. This is the last book of three. This one examines Nazi rule during the Second World War. Not for the squeamish, painful in many parts.

Half of the book is military and European history. The other half details the awful crimes of the regime. A grim reminder of horror on an unimaginable scale, deliberately built by a large percentage of an educated, religious and prosperous society. In Germany some eagerly volunteered, some did nothing
Jeff Swystun
Mar 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This review is based on my second read of Evans' third and final instalment in his series. I must have been so overwhelmed when I first read to concoct a review. This is a masterful work on its own and that much more impressive given the previous works detailing the Nazi rise to power and its time in power. This book covers the actual war years of 1939-1945.

Part of Evans' skill is organization. How he presents the sheer volume of content is beneficial to the reader without dumbing down or making
Feb 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The last tome of Evans' historical insight into the third reich was full of details some other books lack. It does also give some insight into what was believed at some point but then corrected. An amazing read! ...more
May 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
It took almost a month to read this description of Germany in WWII. Like "The Guns of August", I cannot imagine the amount of research and time committed to write a treatise such as this. At times it was very hard to read of the atrocities committed by the Third Reich. One such instance that made me feel the horror was when General Omar Bradley, along with Patton and Eisenhower entered a concentration camp in Thuringia. Bradley was so shaken at the sight of over 3200 naked, emaciated bodies in o ...more
Alan   Mauldin
Jun 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: world-war-ii
Spoiler alert: Hitler and his goons, after an improbable rise to power and lengthy reign of terror and butchery, get their Nazi asses pounded by a seemingly infinite number of T-34s and Sherman tanks.


In the final volume of his trilogy, author Richard J. Evans recounts how Adolf Hitler launched a global conflagration that he then blamed on the Jews running the show in the U.S. and Britain, the early successes, hubris that allowed the Russians to eliminate Germany's army as an offensive force at
Lisa Ahn
Feb 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
In Evans' third volume of this history set, he provides a comprehensive and precisely detailed account of the Third Reich from September 1939 through the end of the war and its aftermath. In Evans careful reporting, the horrors of the Holocaust are meticulously and clearly set on record. This is a history that cannot be forgotten. In his final paragraph, Evans writes: "The Third Reich raises in the most acute form the possibilities and consequences of the human hatred and destructiveness that ex ...more
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He was born in London, of Welsh parentage, and is now Regius Professor of Modern History at the University of Cambridge and a fellow of Gonville & Caius College. Evans has also taught at the University of Stirling, University of East Anglia and Birkbeck College, London. Having been a Visiting Professor in History at Gresham College during 2008/09, he is now the Gresham Professor of Rhetoric.

He was

Other books in the series

The History of the Third Reich (3 books)
  • The Coming of the Third Reich (The History of the Third Reich, #1)
  • The Third Reich in Power (The History of the Third Reich, #2)

News & Interviews

Happy Women's History Month! One of the undisputedly good things about modern scholarship is that women’s history is finally getting its due....
22 likes · 2 comments
“In Hamburg on 30 April 1945, hearing of Hitler’s death, which she believed to have been caused by his having poisoned himself, Luise Solmitz at last felt free to release the hatred that she had been building up for him over the previous months. He was, she wrote in her diary, ‘the shabbiest failure in world history’. He was ‘uncompromising, unbridled, irresponsible’, qualities that had at first brought him success but then led to catastrophe. ‘National” 2 likes
“Some judicial officials began to notice the unusual frequency of deaths among the inmates of institutions and some prosecutors even considered asking the Gestapo to investigate the killings. However, none went so far as Lothar Kreyssig, a judge in Brandenburg who specialized in matters of wardship and adoption. A war veteran and a member of the Confessing Church, Kreyssig became suspicious when psychiatric patients who were wards of the court and therefore fell within his area of responsibility began to be transferred from their institutions and were shortly afterwards reported to have died suddenly. Kreyssig wrote Justice Minister Gortner to protest against what he described as an illegal and immoral programme of mass murder. The Justice Minister's response to this and other, similar, queries from local law officers was to try once more to draft a law giving effective immunity to the murderers, only to have it vetoed by Hitler on the grounds that the publicity would give dangerous ammunition to Allied propaganda. Late in April 1941 the Justice Ministry organized a briefing of senior judges and prosecutors by Brack and Heyde, to try to set their minds at rest. In the meantime, Kreyssig was summoned to an interview with the Ministry's top official, State Secretary Roland Freisler, who informed him that the killings were being carried out on Hitler's orders. Refusing to accept this explanation, Kreyssig wrote to the directors of psychiatric hospitals in his district informing them that transfers to killing centres were illegal, and threatening legal action should they transport any of their patients who came within his jurisdiction. It was his legal duty, he proclaimed, to protect the interests and indeed the lives of his charges. A further interview with Gortner failed to persuade him that he was wrong to do this, and he was compulsorily retired in December 1941.” 2 likes
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