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Currently Reading: The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William L. Shirer
William L. Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich is a monumental study of the 20th Century’s most frightening moments. Now, 53 years after the end of World War II, it may seem incredible that our most valued institutions, and way of life, were threatened by the menace that Hitler and the Third Reich represented. Shirer’s description of events and the cast of characters who played such pivotal roles in defining the course Europe was to take is unforgettable. Benefiting from his many years as a reporter, and thus a personal observer of the rise of Nazi Germany, and availing himself of some of the 485 tons of documents from the German Foreign Office, captured by the First Army, as well as countless other diaries, phone transcriptions, and other written records, meticulously kept at every level by the Germans, Shirer has put together a brutally objective account of how Hitler wrested political control of Germany, and planned and executed his 6 year quest to dominate the world, only at the end, to see Germany go down in flames. The combination of personal recollection and amassing of historical evidence distinguishes this book as one of the great historical works of any time. Although 1600 pages long, this is such a richly rewarding experience for anyone who wants to come to grips with the mysterious question as to how this menace to civilization ever came into being, much less was sustained for as long as it was. The answer, unfortunately, is that most of Germany, for a whole host of reasons, embraced Nazism and the fanaticism that Hitler engendered.
I had it on my shelf for a while and its size rather intimidated me but I finally started it a few days ago while I’m finishing Lolita by Nabokov (what a beautifully written and though-provoking read; highly recommended).