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THE RISE AND FALL OF THE THIRD REICH by William L. Shirer Kirkus Star


A History Of Nazi Germany

by William L. Shirer

Pub Date: Oct. 17th, 1960
ISBN: 1451651686
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

This is an extraordinarily interesting piece of the history of our times, made possible first by the fact that an excellent reporter was on the scene and lived through much of it, second by the wealth of primary source material secured at the time of the defeat and fall of the Third Reich. Hitler is, of course, the focal point, a "person of undoubted if evil genius". Shirer destroys some of the legends of his youth but traces the steps by which he came to power through the instrumentality of Eckhart, who found him a tool for his own ends. National Socialism was founded by misfits; by 1920 Hitler's talents as agitator, organizer and propagandist had brought most of the associates of stature to its ranks. The Nazification of Germany- forecast by Hitler- in Mein Kampf, consolidated in the lean years out of power, infiltrated into the armed services, engineered by a group of brilliant, ruthless opportunists, became a fait accompli before the world took Hitler seriously. All the facets are explored:- the racial laws, the persecution of Christians as well as Jews, the control of press, education, the arts, the abolishing of the separate powers of the states, of free trade unions, the steps to war while talking peace, the wizardry of Schacht's economic policy, the fooling of the people. And then, chronologically, the march of victory, while Chamberlain fumbled:- Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, the deal with Russia -- and World War II. To this reader this part of the book, perhaps the first two thirds, was more provocative and interesting reading than the war years. But even in the war years, Shirer injects a revealing picture of Hitler's duality. The record shows decisions made while statements to the contrary were issued; it shows division in the ranks,- between Hitler and Molotov, Hitler and Mussolini, Hitler and his own general staff, Hitler and Japan. America's part in the war was his final and fatal miscalculation. Throughout, sharp pen pictures of what life in the Third Reich was like should help keep the world from forgetting. A book not only for reference, but for absorbed reading. As November choice of the Book-of-the-Month, it should be an immediate success.