Book Recommendation: The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (William L. Shirer, 1960)


Hello everyone! Today’s post will be another book recommendation, this time on a true historical classic, William L. Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich
Most individuals who are interested in the history of the Second World War will have heard of this book already, but since not everyone reading this will, I have decided to do a post about it.

Rise and Fall chronicles a familiar story- the Second World War- from a perspective that will seem unusual to many students of history; that of the Germans. The book is certainly not an apology for the Nazis, and in fact spends a great deal of time pointing out the flaws in their decisions. For me, it was a fascinating experience to learn an unknown side to such a familiar story- surely, for any true student of the war, names like Jodl and Rommel should be at least as familiar as Montgomery or Eisenhower. The book finds its sources both in the experiences of the author (a correspondent in Berlin until 1941 and the outbreak of war between Germany and America) and the diaries of those Nazis who survived the immediate end of the war.

Rise and Fall is written in a dramatic and engaging style, frequently quoting from other literature on the subject and examining at parts of the war that are not commonly put under the microscope. The period leading up to the war, for example, is discussed in great detail. I, at least, learned a great many things about that period that I had not previously known, such as the exact methods with which Hitler subdued his political opponents within Germany. (Of particular interest was his strategy of calling a massive May Day celebration to bring the Labour movement to Berlin and then having all their leaders arrested.) The most dramatic section of the book is the final chapters, fittingly titled Gotterdammerung, describing the fall of Berlin: “Heinrici’s army, to the north of Berlin, was beating a hasty retreat westward so that it might be captured by the Western Allies instead of by the Russians.”(Shirer, 1960, 1120.)

All in all, this book deserves to be required reading for a student of the Second World War; knowing both sides to a story is always key to truly understanding it, and this proves to be no exception. I hope you all enjoyed this post, and have a nice day! (For a reference, continue past the link)


Shirer, William L. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. New York, Rosetta Books, 1960.

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