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20TH CENTURY JOURNEY by William L. Shirer

20TH CENTURY JOURNEY

A Native's Return--1945-1988

By William L. Shirer

Pub Date: Jan. 26th, 1989
ISBN: 0517076152
Publisher: Little, Brown

This third and final installment of the author/broadcaster's memoirs examines in human terms the forces that shaped the history of the past five decades. Included in Shirer's well-wrought narrative are such little-known events as the trials of American broadcasters who propagandized for the Third Reich during WW II, as well as such more familiar matters as the McCarthyism of the 1950's. The author's comments are refreshingly unfettered by self-consciousness (e.g., when he recounts his own extramarital affairs and the end of his 37-year marriage), and they are also resonant in implication--he speculates, for instance, on the reasons for Edward R. Murrow's buckling under to the witch-hunting of the "Red Channels" years. After a brief recap of his experiences during the Second World War, Shirer writes of his return to America, a country that in large measure was unfamiliar to him after years abroad. He tells of the circumstances surrounding the publication of his best-selling Berlin Diary--Alfred Knopf felt it had "no beginning, middle or end" and was sure to be a flop. Shirer then describes the events that led up to his "resignation" (read "firing") from CBS as a result of unsubstantiated accusations of being Red-tinged. The memories obviously still rankle. It was his inability to obtain work that resulted in the creation of his monumental Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. Shirer's personal life is also examined: his affairs with dancer Tilly Losch and TV personality Virgilia Peterson. Included as well are charming vignettes of a visit to Tolstoy's home and of a hilarious French TV interview show that was disrupted by a pair of insistent panhandlers and an impenetrable fogbank. A fine, fitting conclusion to an important work of autobiography.