The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich pdf, Summary, Review by William L. Shirer

The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich pdf book by William L. Shirer is hailed as one of the most important works of history of our time. This definitive chronicle of Hitler’s rise to power is back in hardcover with a new introductory essay by Ron Rosenbaum (Explaining Hitler and How the End Begins) commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of its National Book Award win. Highly recommended.

The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich Summary

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 their files, the Allied demand for unconditional surrender produced an almost hour-by-hour record of the nightmare empire built by Adolph Hitler. This record included the testimony of Nazi leaders and of concentration camp inmates, the diaries of officials, transcripts of secret conferences, army orders, private letters—all the vast paperwork behind Hitler’s drive to conquer the world.

The famed foreign correspondent and historian William L. Shirer, who had watched and reported on the Nazis since 1925, spent five and a half years sifting through this massive documentation. The result is a monumental study that has been widely acclaimed as the definitive record of one of the most frightening chapters in the history of mankind.

This worldwide bestseller has been acclaimed as the definitive book on Nazi Germany; it is a classic work.

The accounts of how the United States got involved and how Hitler used Mussolini and Japan are astonishing, and the coverage of the war-from Germany’s early successes to her eventual defeat-is must reading

The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich Review


About William L. Shirer Author of The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich pdf Book

William L. Shirer
William L. Shirer

William Lawrence Shirer Author of The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich pdf Book 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 & Schuster. This book of well over 1000 pages is still in print, and is a detailed examination of the Third Reich filled with historical information from German archives captured at the end of the war, along with impressions Shirer gained during his days as a correspondent in Berlin. Later, in 1969, his work The Collapse of the Third Republic drew on his experience spent living and working in France from 1925 to 1933. This work is filled with historical information about the Battle of France from the secret orders and reports of the French High Command and of the commanding generals of the field. Shirer also used the memoirs, journals, and diaries of the prominent British, Italian, Spanish, and French figures in government, Parliament, the Army, and diplomacy.

The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich pdf, Paperback, Hardcover Book Information

The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich
The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Simon & Schuster; 1st Touchstone edition (November 15, 1990)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 1264 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0671728687
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0671728687
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 2.89 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6.25 x 2.25 x 9.25 inches
  • Best Sellers Rank: #1,367,464 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • #879 in Fascism (Books)
  • #4,969 in German History (Books)
  • #12,916 in World War II History (Books)
  • Customer Reviews: 4.7 out of 5 stars    5,377 ratings

The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich Reviews


5.0 out of 5 stars Well deserved of the hype
Reviewed in the United States on September 21, 2013

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One of the most well known historical pieces of work from the latter half of the twentieth century, and for good reason. I confess I’ve always been intimidated by this book. Simply the shear size of this volume (over 1200 pages) was always scary – and no pictures to boot! Well, for those who know how owning an Amazon Kindle works, you know that from time to time, you can find great bargains to add to your library. So when this one was advertised at $1.99 for a period of time time, who could pass that up? Certainly not me. It always helps when Amazon has a large number of positive customer reviews as well of a particular piece. Of course, I wasn’t sure how much I would enjoy the volume, nor if I would even have the tenacity to finish such a formidable body of work.

One of the ways I can tell when I have thoroughly enjoyed a historical piece, is when, upon finishing the book, I want more. Such was the case here. For starters, the most appealing factor of this book, is it was written by journalist William Shirer, who was actually there in Germany, covering the stories, as they happened. The book is so well written, that it was very easy for me to forget that the book was written and released back in 1961. Having a first-hand witness to so much of the pomp and ceremony in Germany during the volatile 1930s is a huge asset for the reader.

There are so many aspects and side tales of this time in history, that it’s very easy for any author to go off on a rabbit trail, and lose focus of the topic at hand. Although this might actually be desirable, the author does a great job of keeping the main thing (The Third Reich) the main thing. Example: As World War II starts, some of the events are told in thorough detail, yet other events seemed to be glossed over (i.e. Japan’s involvement) and you almost feel cheated. Then, of course, you have to remind yourself that this is not a retrospective of the War, yet only Germany’s involvement as it pertains to Hitler and his band of devout goons.

Speaking of Hitler, he’s obviously the main character in this tale. And again, there are times when we want more. I’ve never read a book that detailed Hitler’s early years as much as this one (although I’m sure they exist), so it’s commendable when Shirer shows discipline within the narrative. Then, when we get to the “Fall” of the Third Reich, it isn’t told in as much detail as I would have liked. It happened very quickly, as history tells us, yet I would have loved to have much more details around the Nuremberg trials. Again, though, I’m sure that episode warrants a book by itself.

You could make the argument that, more than 50 years after this book was first released, that there really isn’t anything new within these pages for the modern reader, and that’s true. In fact, I’m sure there have been many revelations around the atrocities of the parties since then that were unknown barely 15 years after the walls of the intended 1,000 year Reich came crashing down. The detail, however, is incredibly impressive. The only part that seemed to be a bit dry was during the 1920s when the Nazi party was coming into power. The Nazis were battling all of the other, existing political entities at the time to try to bring Germany out of its embarrassment and ruin after its defeat during the first World War.

Also worth mentioning is that the hatred of minorities, German arrogance, and the desire for a “pure” race through Darwinian methods were not Adolph Hitler’s original ideas. Sadly, such behavior was very commonplace for centuries amongst many. Hitler was just the only one who could pull off such a thing. Yes, the man was a lunatic. But sadly, he was a very smart lunatic. So we witness Germany becoming a “great nation” once again under Hitler’s direction, while most citizens simply look the other way when Jews, Gypsies and Communists are brutally humiliated, ostracized, and eventually killed in brutal form and fashion that was hard for many to believe shortly after the events were revealed.

And, yes, a detailed account of The Third Reich simply cannot be told without details of the Holocaust. For me, anyway, I was a bit relieved that Shirer only spent one chapter on the details of such monstrosities. I accept that it’s an important part of the story, but it sickens and saddens me to read the details of such events. When you read about the sadistic behaviors of many of the “doctors” and the bizarre experiments done to human beings, you simply can’t only fault a maniac such as Hitler. Sadly, evil is much more widespread.

Speaking of evil, it must be said, that there were several of Hitler’s top generals that realized the man had an elevator that didn’t quite go to the top floor. There was a lot of talk and planning of assassinating the former Bavarian Corporal, yet for the most part, these plans never came to fruition (to be blunt – the plotters chickened out), and when there was a serious attempt by Von Stauffenberg and company (the Tom Cruise character in the movie Valkyrie), it, sadly, failed, and the perpetrators were brutally tortured and killed for their actions.

So as the war progresses, things which were at first rosy for Hitler, start to falter. Hitler, being the megalomaniac he was, simply refused to acknowledge that his superior race could ever be defeated, so he pressed on, ignoring his leaders, and letting his empire slowly fall to ruin. We see his cronies (Goehring, Himmler, Goebells, et. al) feverishly holding on to some sort of twisted ideology that the Reich will prevail, whereas cooler heads seemed to know the terrible destiny that awaits (I was not aware that General Rommel aka “The Desert Fox” was not a supporter of Hitler, and was part of the talks to have him eliminated). There are a lot of characters here, yet careful reading allows the uneducated reader enough detail to separate the wheat from the chaff in determining who the true crackpots are amongst the major players of the evil Axis.

A great piece of work, yet a sad reminder of the evil that exists in the hearts of many people, and the result of when such behaviors are unchecked.


5.0 out of 5 stars Rise & Fall
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 30, 2018

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An immensely detailed history of a dysfunctional, criminal & totally corrupt collection of mentally deficient, power mad people, who led a not unwilling nation into an horrific slide to destruction, both physically & economically.

The book also details the shortcomings of the so called Allied politicians & military leaders, who must take an large amount of the blame for the
success of the Nazis in rising to such giddy heights of power.

A must read for anyone interested in those dreadful years.

The author has a perfect grasp of the events, both as an eyewitness & having taken details from captured documents & writes in an easily read manner.


5.0 out of 5 stars Very long, but a must-read
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 18, 2018

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Beware, this is a very long tome but essential reading for anyone interested in the Nineteen-thirties in general and the rise of Hitler in particular. Very detailed (the author was an American journalist present at most of the events described, who knew many of the personalities involved.) Beware, I got very angry at some of the background to the appeasement years – it’s not a comfortable read.

D.W. Glenn.

4.0 out of 5 stars Slightly dated but remains essential reading.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 9, 2020

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First read this 30 years ago and have just re read it. It remains essential reading for anyone who has a real interest in the subject matter. Although a long read its written in an easily accessible journalistic style made more poignant by the fact that he was a personal observer of the machinations of the Nazi regime.
It has dated in places inevitably as material is now available that wasnt available to him. In particular Shirer significantly underestimates Albert Speers role in perpetuating the war by over a year which was second only to Hitlers. I would recommend Gitta Serenys masterpiece ‘Albert Speer his battle with truth’ as an excellent companion book for this one.
One book covers the corruption of a nations soul. The other the corruption of a mans soul.
Each are intrinsically linked.
Amazon Customer

5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic account of the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 3, 2020

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This is one of the few books i didn’t finish because they felt too good. I always delayed learning about WWII since it was too “mainstream” for me, and when i read this book i was completely captivated. The Author was in the thick of it in Berlin, so you can get first person information about the situation in Nazi Germany and the Rise of Adolf Hitler.

Since i know how it ends (lol), i didn’t read the last few pages, which is something i’ve noticed myself doing with a lot of books i enjoyed. I don’t know why, i stopped reading books when protagonists were on their deathbeds, and when nations were about to be destroyed, probably because i was too into the books.

So if you want a vivid book, this one is for you
Kindle Customer

5.0 out of 5 stars A first hand account of a fascinating phenomenonReviewed in the United Kingdom on May 8, 2022

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The author – an American journalist – lived in Nazi Germany throughout the Hitler years, until 1939. This is a superb, detailed, fact-backed and analytical account of a period whose consequences we all still live with. I cannot recommend this highly enough. I particularly enjoyed the parts of the book where (unchained by today’s wokeism and PC) the author tries to explain how it was possible for Hitler to succeed so completely in Germany, rather than anywhere else. Capital!

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