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

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  122,967 ratings  ·  3,557 reviews
Hitler boasted that The Third Reich would last a thousand years. It lasted only 12. But those 12 years contained some of the most catastrophic events Western civilization has ever known.

No other powerful empire ever bequeathed such mountains of evidence about its birth and destruction as the Third Reich. When the bitter war was over, and before the Nazis could destroy thei

Mass Market Paperback, Fiftieth Anniversary Edition, 1614 pages
Published November 15th 1990 by Simon & Schuster (first published October 17th 1960)
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Alan Northcote For a starter, I'd recommend this one - I read it when I was 16 years old, and it got me interested in the subject for the next forty years, so far!

For a starter, I'd recommend this one - I read it when I was 16 years old, and it got me interested in the subject for the next forty years, so far!

Richard Evans' series are excellent, and very detailed, but this may be better read first, and is written by someone who was close to the events at the time.(less)
Anne Rise and Fall of the Third Reich is amazing and well worth the read or listen. Audible’s is a good listen. For insights into the mind and evolution of…moreRise and Fall of the Third Reich is amazing and well worth the read or listen. Audible’s is a good listen. For insights into the mind and evolution of totalitarianism, no one beats Hannah Arendt.
And Shirer’s Diaries give a first hand view of Germany before the war. He was kicked out once US was at war...of course.

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Start your review of The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany
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
Wyatt Nordstrom
Nov 06, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 31, 2013 rated it really liked it

You boil this book down, strip it to the foundations, and what the reader finds is darkness of the human soul. Bred in the alleyways and gutters of Vienna before the first World War, this was the angry and hateful opposite of God’s shining light, the ancient shadows that live in the basement of our souls, given life and expression on the palette of a failed artist.

Shirer’s scholarly, exhaustive masterpiece paints the portrait of the Third Reich from its beginnings in the back rooms an
Ahmad Sharabiani
The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany, William L. Shirer

The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany is a book by William L. Shirer chronicling the rise and fall of Nazi Germany from the birth of Adolf Hitler in 1889 to the end of World War II in 1945. It was first published in 1960, by Simon & Schuster in the United States, where it won a National Book Award.

The book was feted by journalists, as reflected by its receipt of the National Book Award f
Nandakishore Mridula
Whew! After six months of exhilarating yet exhausting reading, I have finally managed to finish this massive tome - William L. Shirer's definitive account of the rise and fall of the Third Reich under the evil and mad genius, the warlord Hitler. Hitler expected that the Reich will last for a thousand years - in reality, it lasted just over 12 years. In those twelve, the Fuehrer managed to create hell on earth for the people whom he ruled over as well as in those areas which he conquered; the war ...more
Mark Lawrence
Jun 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is quite a dry book full of technical detail about the state of Germany, of its politics, and, as promised, the rise of the Nazis.

Buried deep inside is a brief section (copied below) that looks up from the statistics of the holocaust to give this harrowing eye-witness account, which has stayed with me for the 30-odd years since I read it. Particularly, the part where the girl points to herself and says her age - probably because I was around that age when I read it.

It is difficult to believ
Mikey B.
Nov 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: germany, world-war-ii
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
Erik Graff
Mar 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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-holds 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
Brett C
Jun 19, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ww2
This was a superb account of Nazi Germany! William Shirer was a journalist/foreign correspondent during his time in Germany from 1934 to 1940. He wrote the book based on his first-hand reporting, extensive document research, and multiple and reliable third-party evidence. The writing was clear and very thorough but not oversaturated with details to become boring. Shirer did a fine job on the narrative because it was linear and logical as to eliminate confusion.
The First Reich was the medieval Ho
Michael Ferro
Jun 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shirer's masterpiece has long sat untouched on my shelves—it's ominous block swastika unsettling all guest who entered my home (not always fun to explain to people that you're not a Nazi...).

That said, I decided to read this book in tiny increments alongside other books for the past few months, and at over 1,000 pages, it took a bit to finally knock this one out, but wow... what a book. I truly find it surprising that authors and journalists would bother to continue to write about the Third Rei
BAM the enigma
Nov 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I went into this believing I had a well-grounded understanding of Prussian history and a basis of the Hitler regime. Ummm this book is everything I don't know.
I feel way over my head. There are so many layers to peel like some history-containing onion. Shirer wrote an entire college course worth of information. I regret that I will not retain it all. An impressive collection of memories and experience, we should feel so privileged to have this thorough documentation of one of the most horrific e
May 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
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
DNF at 25%.

This would’ve been my first deep dive into Nazi history, but after half a dozen counts of listing homosexuality in the same breath as murder, and even going as far as attributing Naziism in part to many early Nazis being prone to “sexual perversion”, I started to wonder if this was going to be a reliable history at all.

It’s my fault for not properly researching the book beforehand. It appears the consensus is that it was outdated even upon its release, and in some cases espouses opin
Michael Perkins
Jul 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

"My father, raised in Berlin under the Nazis, saw in European fascism a course that any country could take. He knew that US democracy was not exceptional in its capacity to resist the forces that shattered his family and devastated his youth. My mother, a court stenographer in US criminal courts for 44 years, saw in the anti-Black racism of the American legal system parallels to the vicious antisemitism she experienced in her youth in Poland, attitudes which enabled eastern European co
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
Roy Lotz
Reading this book is an ordeal. It is very long and very depressing. Charting the Third Reich from the birth of Hitler to the collapse of Germany, Shirer tells the whole story with the sweep of a novelist and the detail of an accountant. He wrote the book after having access to huge stores of documents captured by the Allies after the war. Diaries, schedules, testimonies from the Nuremberg trials, the minutes of meetings, and much more were the raw material marshalled to create this tome.

As is o
E. G.
Apr 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A New Introduction, by Ron Rosenbaum

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

Jill Hutchinson
Believe it or not, I have read this massive book twice. Shirer, who spent much of the years leading up to WWII in Germany, fills in all the blanks and tells a tale of a country spiraling into madness and the ultimate failure of the "1,000 Year Reich". Suffice it to say, this is probably the finest book ever written on the history of Nazi Germany and is a "must read" for all history lovers. "Berlin Diary" also by Shirer is a good preface to this book. Magnificent!!!! ...more
Nick Borrelli
Feb 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Three historical periods always have fascinated me and I usually will read anything published with regard to them. The first is The American Revolution, the second is The Civil War and the third is Nazi Germany/WWII. William Shirer has penned the definitive account of this horrendous time in world history and I believe it is the most comprehensive and compelling telling ever published. I did read Richard Evans' trilogy but I still view Shirer's book as better. I thought that Evans speculated too ...more
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 German 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 b
Nov 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: european-history
Was the Third Reich an extension of the national character and value system or was it an episodic totalitarianism derived from concentration of power and fueled by modern technology. Shirer’s narrative supports the former but the latter view has many proponents. One relevant piece of history I have not seen mentioned in the context of this argument is the German colonization of South-West Africa, now Namibia. I first stumbled on this awful history in Thomas Pynchon’s excellent novel “V.”, which ...more
Dec 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history_modern
This is a classic. A very detailed, almost day-by-day account of this momentous period of World history. Relevant primary sources, including documents used in Nuremberg, are persuasively referenced throughout the account.
The book is an important reference to whoever is interested in the period; however there are a few issues with it:
- you can see that the author was a journalist writing as though he were a historian. On the positive side, this makes for a fresh, vivid and compelling narrative,
Jul 07, 2021 rated it it was amazing
William Shirer was an American journalist who lived and worked in Nazi Germany from 1934 to 1940 as a correspondent. His reporting of this period is incredible – he not only has great insights in what daily life was like, but he also attended many of the meetings with Hitler and other German leaders. He was there during the Nuremberg rallies as Hitler increased his grip on the country. He was there when Hitler invaded/occupied Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Poland. He was there when Hitler made hi ...more
Todd N
Feb 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kindle
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
Brad Lyerla
May 30, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” ― Voltaire (1694 – 1778)

Hitler was the master of the “big lie”. His big lie was that Germany won the First World War, but that the Weimar elites negotiated a bad peace for Germany at Versailles. (“They stabbed us in the back,” Hitler claimed.) This was nonsense, of course, but Hitler convinced more than a third of German voters that it was true.

One cannot help but wonder at the parallels to Trump’s “stop the steal” sca
Morgan Blackledge
Mar 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
We all know about the awful deeds of the Nazi’s.

Hitler is literally the archetypal evil bastard of all history.

That being said.

It defies the imagination exactly how bad the Nazi’s were and how tragic that chapter in history was.

It takes hard work to simply inventory the industrial scale torture, terror and murder.

All told, 70 million people died in WWII.

Many of them died in the worst ways imaginable.

We simply can’t imagine that kind of suffering from the vantage point of 70 years of relative
Jan 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, history

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
Feb 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
Shirer's key piece of historical literature on Nazi Germany draws not only on a plethora of sources, but also on key documents from within the Third Reich. He uses this vast collection of material to give the reader a better understanding of the Reich during its creation, sustenance, and eventual downfall. While its length may be daunting for many readers, Shirer's analysis of the Reich argues that there are three entities that were duped at various points, leading to the success and eventual co ...more
Feb 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cannonball-read
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
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Anti-gay? 30 518 Nov 12, 2022 12:43PM  
Welcome To Read W...: Starting "The Rise And Fall Of The Third Reich" -William L. Shirer 1 18 Sep 28, 2020 08:51PM  
Goodreads Librari...: Please correct page count ASIN B003VWJAPA 2 12 May 28, 2020 10:09AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Page number 1 19 Aug 01, 2018 03:10AM  
Poland could have appeased Hitler? 3 36 Feb 08, 2017 08:30AM  
Why did Hitler lose? 7 55 Feb 08, 2017 08:27AM  
Why did Hitler lose? 5 25 Aug 23, 2016 11:29PM  

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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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“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.” 49 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.” 31 likes
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