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PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2011 5:26 am 
Shirer, William. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. Simon and Schuster, 1960.

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This remains one of the 'classic' WW2 books for many people. Although written just 15 years after the end of the war the author, a journalist rather than a historian, uses extensive declassified Nazi documents to show the Third Reich for what it really was. Shirer pulls no punches by declaring the German people, and thier 'gangster' leader to be a bunch of thugs and bullies. His argument follows the progression of the German people from their days of anti-semitism and Martin Luther to the rise of Hitler and the Nazi Party. He argues Hitler was a natural culmination of all the faults of the German people - especially their blind obedience to authority. Shirer's writing is very readable and it is downright refreshing to see a writer taking a personal stand and referring to people as he saw them. Goering, Himmler, Hitler, and the host of other Nazi leaders are deemed 'quacks,' 'murderers,' and 'deviants.' No politicially correct writing here!

The book focuses on the political rise of Hitler and his manipulation of the Weimar Republic to gain his Chancellory/Presidency over Germany. Hitler was elected to power but only through the terrorist actions of his SS henchmen and by exploiting the weaknesses of his enemies. The author spent the pre-WW2 years as a Berlin correspondent and thus knew Hitler and his associates as a member of the American press. His first-hand accounts add a great deal to the book as it is interesting to read his impressions of these men as events unfolded - often by quoting his diary from those days. Hitler's mobilization of Germany towards war in 1939 is covered in the greatest detail as Hitler continued to grab as much land and power as the weakened allies would tolerate.

Hitler's non-aggression agreement with Stalin allowed him to invade Poland and not fear a two-front war as had occurred in WW1. The entry of France and Britain into the war concerned him little as he felt certain he could crush them if he could concentrate his armies against one enemy at a time. France proved to be totally unprepared for War and the Wehrmacht quickly overran France in 1940. Hitler's failure to build his Navy and Luftwaffe up more made the invasion of Britain an impossibility. With no room to the West for Germany to grow Hitler looked to the East and the lands teeming with agriculture and oil that belonged to the Soviets.

The author pinpoints the biggest mistake Hitler made was underestimating the Soviets and the Americans. He invaded Russia and quickly gained hundreds of miles of territory but could not crush the Russian armies before the winter of 1941. When Japan attacked America in 1941 Hitler quickly joined his ally and declared war on America as well. He felt certain that America would not play an important role in Europe except with their Navy supplying Britain - which his submarines could attack and destroy.

The author then quickly covers the campaign of WW2 in only passing details. He continues to focus on the Nazi Party and Hitler through the war. He spends a chapter discussing the "Final Solution" and the desire of Hitler to liquidate all those who 'knew too much.' By the end of the war we follow Hitler into his Berlin bunker for his final days. From there he continues to blame everyone around him for the failure of Germany to defeat the allies in 1942 - 1945. In actuality, Hitler was the greatest enemy Germany had as he squandered men and supplies on useless objectives and orders.

Overall the book is a great read and I highly recommend it. There is a trilogy of books by Richard Evens called the Third Reich Trilogy (2003 - 2008 published) which is supposed to be a more modern interpretation of the Third Reich. I look forward to reading it soon.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2011 7:45 am 
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Joined: Tue Oct 05, 2010 9:24 am
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Location: Pennsylvania, USA
I agree, this is an excellent read. Highly recommended. I couldn't put it down and read it in a bout a weeks time.

1st Lt. Mark Gaff
Army of the Potomac
First Brigade/Second Division/I Corps

Webmaster of the Official Civil War Talk Radio website, Impediments of War; A Compendium of Civil War Talk Radio at

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 12, 2011 9:42 pm 
Gen Strickler,
Excellent read, I must get a copy form amazon where I get most of my books, since you can get them used, and a lot cheaper,
several of my books were retired by libraries to used book stores and pretty cheap and some of my favorite books.
Anyway, I read this as a pre-teen, my step father's book, large volume, but covers the very beginning to the end of the 3rd Reich.
My grandfather got me interested in history as he served as a LT in WWI, he died when I was young, and then my aunts and grandmother
got me interested in the Civil War as told to them by their grandfather when they were little children (11th Texas Cavalry) . Anyway, all of the above direct result of my service in the military and continued
love of both military and general history.
I do agree it is more about the political rise of Hitler and the Nazi Party, how he manipulated the German people, as he was a madman,
he was a genius at manipulation and the use of mass media and propaganda( Maybe more attritable to Goebbels and Himmler) but knew as well, how to surround himself with cronies who could be an asset to him ( and thus, admired by Saddam Hussein as he followed the same tract), than it was about covering campaigns and battles. A classic book about a madman and his cronies, and the manipulation
of an entire country into unspeakable acts.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 16, 2011 8:07 am 
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Joined: Fri May 13, 2011 3:23 pm
Posts: 89
Location: Pineville, LA
I bought a copy of this about 15 years ago (I'm also a World War II nut). They made a Made-for-TV movie about Shirer's exploits in Germany before the U. S. entered the war. Thr book is great reading on Hitler's Germany.

Brigadier General Robert Webb
> 3nd Brigade, Edward C. Walthall Division (2nd)
> II Corps, Army of the West
> "Gator Alley"

Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler !!!

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2011 7:53 pm 
I actually saw where a book about Shirer's time in Germany is actually out now. Should be an interesting read given all he saw and did in Germany during the Rise of the Nazi's.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 18, 2012 11:06 pm 

Joined: Wed Apr 09, 2003 2:58 pm
Posts: 206
Location: USA
Classic must read, or have read.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 26, 2012 11:58 pm 

Joined: Wed Nov 17, 2004 7:00 pm
Posts: 822
Location: Mukilteo, Washington, USA - 25 miles north of Seattle

I haven't read this one yet but just started one of the author's other books: 20th Century Journey, A Memoir of a Life and the Times, The Nightmare Year - 1930 - 1940.

The book starts off with the author in of all places, Afghanistan. His insights as to the country and culture would have been well heeded for the Russians and us before getting involved in that place. He then returns to Vienna by car and train, passing thru India, then up to Basra, Babylon and Bagdad. Later on to Istanbul. He then spends a year in Spain and then on to Paris. His travels are so timely and his experiences of the life and times are hard to beat as he lived through them.

More later.


Your Obedient Servant,

General Nick Kunz
Commandant, VMI


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