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

The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany - William L. Shirer image

William Shirer's 1960 classic, 'The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich,' draws on his personal experience as an American journalist in Nazi Germany up until December 1940, drawing on firsthand experience with the principals involved. In a classic example of totalitarian regimes being unfamiliar with true opinion management, the Nazis actually tended to censor Shirer reporting on British air raids on Germany, whereas all German raids on the UK were channelled loud and clear ot the American heartland. Such a phenomenon exists as well today with absurdist North Korean videos whose impact on American pop-culture opinion Pyongyang fails to understand.

Shirer's work remains forthright, heavily quoted, documentary and comprehensive. It is long. It is detailed, and it is personally-verified by Shirer rather than the work of an abstract researcher. Surprisingly, after more than fifty years, the work remains cogent and modern, with only gratutious homophobic asides dating the work as anything other than 2015 scholarship.


Aside from the standard criticism, "journalists focus on public figures," ignoring the broad economic or statistical trends, clearly Shirer's work has stood the test of time and remains the definitive guide to the rise and fall of National Socialist Germany. From early commentary that the early Nazi party was just one of several incipent nationalist groups (lending credence to the historical determinist school) to battle-by-battle insider's knowledge of the mood of NS Germany, Shirer delivers a compelling and readable account of the most significant historical period, era, and country of the 20th century.