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  • The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich

  • A History of Nazi Germany
  • By: William L. Shirer
  • Narrated by: Grover Gardner
  • Length: 57 hrs and 11 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (2,683 ratings)

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The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich

By: William L. Shirer
Narrated by: Grover Gardner
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Editor reviews

Beautifully crafted prose and an astounding degree of research have been put into one of the leading Nazi Germany audiobooks written to date - The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany by well-known and respected American journalist, war correspondent and historian, William L. Shirer. Shirer’s deeply informative and absorbing writing is narrated by prominent American audio performer Grover Gardiner. Listeners are given a thoroughly researched and hugely informative look at the factors that contributed to the rise of Hitler’s Third Reich, of the resulting atrocities and the events that caused its ultimate downfall. Available now from Audible.

Summary

Since its publication in 1960, William L. Shirer’s monumental study of Hitler’s German empire has been widely acclaimed as the definitive record of the twentieth century’s blackest hours. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich offers an unparalleled and thrillingly told examination of how Adolf Hitler nearly succeeded in conquering the world. With millions of copies in print around the globe, it has attained the status of a vital and enduring classic.

Now, years after the end of World War II, it may seem incredible that our most valued institutions, and way of life, were threatened by the menace that Hitler and the Third Reich represented. Shirer’s description of events and the cast of characters who played such pivotal roles in defining the course Europe was to take is unforgettable.

Benefiting from his many years as a reporter, and thus a personal observer of the rise of Nazi Germany, and availing himself of some of the 485 tons of documents from the German Foreign Office, as well as countless other diaries, phone transcriptions, and other written records meticulously kept at every level by the Germans, Shirer has put together a brutally objective account of how Hitler wrested political control of Germany, and planned and executed his six-year quest to dominate the world, only to see Germany go down in flames. 

The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich is a vast, richly rewarding experience for anyone who wants to come to grips with the mysterious question of how this menace to civilization ever came into being, much less was sustained for as long as it was. The answer, unfortunately, is that most of Germany, for a whole host of reasons, embraced Nazism and the fanaticism that Hitler engendered.

©1990 William L. Shirer (P)2010 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

Critic reviews

“One of the most important works of history of our time.” ( The New York Times)
”A splendid work of scholarship, objective in method, sound in judgment, inescapable in its conclusions.” ( The New York Times Book Review)

What listeners say about The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Finished - what do I do now?

I listened to all 57 hours in one month during many long drives and not a few late nights. Rarely have I enjoyed history so much. The quality of Shirer's writing has long since been recognised, but this is enhanced even further by the brilliant narration. Yes, there were occasions when my concentration lapsed, but ony because one is inevitably drawn to one aspect of the story rather than another. Most often I was riveted, and now it feels like an old friend has said farewell.

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73 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A unique account

This was the standard book at school 30 years ago for the study of the Third Reich. Reading it all these years later it has lost none of its impact. The writing style remains modern and clear and in my opinion is unmatched on the subject. Many good books have been written on this subject but Shirer witnessed events with his own eyes meeting many of the historical figures and seeing the bodies before nearly becoming a victim himself. Written in a time when reporting was still a noble art it was criticised as being anti German. For me it lays the facts out and leaves the reader to make his mind up. Despite its length superb narration makes this a stunning a thought provoking listen. Find the time.

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62 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Flawed but fascinating

Germany under the Nazis is probably one of the most written about periods of history and the seeker after information is spoiled for choice. Plenty of more recent studies have been done on the Nazi era but Shirer's work, now half a century old, still stands for me as the definitive history of the period.

Of course, it has many flaws, not least Shirer's own very subjective take on the personalities and the events he documents. Shirer was a journalist, and he wrote as a journalist, not as an historian. But what the book might lack in terms of perspective, it gains tremendously in recounting Shirer's own first hand experiences of Nazi Germany. He lived and worked in Germany during the early days of Hitler and personally attended many of the events he described. he was also fortunate, as he describes in his introduction, to have been present when German government documents were seized by the advancing allied armies and to have been one of the journalists allowed to comb through this rich source of information.

He describes, with frightening clarity, the failure of Britain, France and America to understand the danger posed by Adolf Hitler and the terrible results of the pre-war policy of appeasement, not least for the many millions who died in appalling conditions in Nazi extermination camps. The reader shares his frustration at the willingness of the western powers to sacrifice Austria and Czechoslovakia in order to buy a few more months of peace.

This is a very long book which I read first when I was in my teens. The audio version is unabridged, and runs to an incredible 57 hours but the narrative will sweep you along. The reader perfectly captures the tone of the written volume. For those who want to find out how a madman can come to power in what should be a civilised country, there is no better source than this book.

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50 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Fabulous history on the ipod

Don't be put off by the length the reader of this fabulous audio book captures you and continues to hold you as the history of Nazi Germany unfolds.

The book itself remains a classic of World War II covering the broad history of the Third Reich from first tentative developments to the downfall and collapse in the Fuhrer Bunker.

You will find it difficult to do anything else until you finish listening.

The producers and reader have remained faithful to the work and the horror of a world war without getting dramatic.

You will only find a few works that achieve the quality you find here.

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27 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

a gripping riveting listen

I've only listened to half so far, and its gripping stuff. Not dry dull writing, but its alive, full of personalities and happenings, one steamrolling onto the next. And the reader is excellent. While its v.long, and I'm not sure I'll take it to the end, I dont think this matters, because its fantastic value, even if I only listen to the first half, as my main interest is in the rise of nazism.

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26 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

History brought to life

Don't be put off by the immense length of this audio book: it's a riveting story that keeps you listening. I first read this book over 30 years ago and, though I had forgotten much of the detail, the power of its narrative had left an indelible memory. Listening again, rekindled the shock and amazement at this dark period of history. At times harrowing, it's like a fast-moving crime thriller. And, oh what crimes! What's so shocking is that it wasn't just a small band of psychopaths who had taken over Germany, but that so many people were willing to perpetrate unbelievably cruel treatment on other human beings. With the benefit of hind-sight one can see turning-points that changed history and the many missed opportunities by both sides to triumph or be defeated; or for peace or continued conflict. It's fascinating, if chilling, to see how Hitler started out as a consummate tactician, but latterly sunk into a megalomania that ruined his country.

The book had involved an immense amount of research into captured secret papers of the Reich and greatly benefits from the author being an eye-witness working as a journalist for a US broadcasting company at this tumultuous period in history.

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19 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

brilliant, scholarly, riveting and chilling

This is a monumental listen which despite its length flies along as the events unfold. The reader is very easy to listen to and never becomes a trial or gets in the way.
Awesome, epic and illuminating. The examples of demagogues and schemers portrayed remain as relevant in our times. An absolute masterpiece. Strongly recommend it.

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17 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A Masterful Work

This is a truly masterful and objective history of the third Reich based on the mountains of captured Nazi documents after the war and therefore is not subject to a particular historians interpretation of events.

Although long and sometimes a little difficult to digest due to - for example - the large number of individuals dealt with, this book is nevertheless an incredibly thorough coverage of Hitler's rise to power that will reward the reader with a wealth of knowledge throughout its scope.

This has to be one of (if not, the most) complete treatment of the subject matter. I was amazed to read actual extracts of conversations that had been carefully documented with typical German efficiency. There is just so much here that I find it amazing that one man could write such a mammoth volume.

A word on the narration; This could be a most difficult book for a narrator due to the frequent use of German names, places and other foreign language references. However, this is handled with superb skill by Grover Gardener who's delivery is both confident and precise. It is not surprising then perhaps that he has narrated some of the largest and complex volumes on other matters such as the American civil war.

In summary, this is a long, but worthwhile masterpiece of work into some of history's darkest days which offers incredible insight into the mind of one of history's most infamous men.

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15 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Totally amazing

Wow, what an audiobook. It was long, but I can't see how this particular book could have been shortened.

It's all based on diaries, letters, minutes, logs of phone calls, direct quotes and other direct sources than just other historians material. This makes it all more compelling.

Some parts are a little heavy - but that's to be expected, and they don't last that long.

The whole period is truly staggering and to here details of it in such detail is truly amazing.

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13 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

pronunciation please!

The book itself is great. I really enjoyed the details of some communications and the deserving amount of detail in what led to WWII as well as needed background on many other facts. The narration is good except for one very important thing. That being the really bad pronunciations of many names, places and German words. Forgiving the last bit, I have to admit that in part where I heard G?bbels mispronounced again and again (I did not count, but the name must have been mentioned at least hundred times) I did growl louder and louder and twitched every time it came up, I could come up with another 10 without thinking too hard. So 5 stars for book itself, 3 for narration.

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9 people found this helpful