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Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent, 1934-1941 | [William L. Shirer]

Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent, 1934-1941

By the acclaimed journalist and New York Times best-selling author of The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, this day-by-day eyewitness account of the momentous events leading up to World War II in Europe is the private, personal, utterly revealing journal of a great foreign correspondent.
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Publisher's Summary

By the acclaimed journalist and New York Times best-selling author of The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, this day-by-day eyewitness account of the momentous events leading up to World War II in Europe is the private, personal, utterly revealing journal of a great foreign correspondent.

CBS radio broadcaster William L. Shirer was virtually unknown in 1940 when he decided there might be a book in the diary he had kept in Europe during the 1930s-specifically those sections dealing with the collapse of the European democracies and the rise of Nazi Germany.

Shirer was the only Western correspondent in Vienna on March 11, 1938, when the German troops marched in and took over Austria, and he alone reported the surrender by France to Germany on June 22, 1940, even before the Germans reported it. The whole time, Shirer kept a record of events, many of which could not be publicly reported because of censorship by the Germans. In December 1940, Shirer learned that the Germans were building a case against him for espionage, an offense punishable by death. Fortunately, Shirer escaped and was able to take most of his diary with him.

Berlin Diary first appeared in 1941, and the timing was perfect. The energy, the passion, and the electricity in it were palpable. The book was an instant success, and it became the frame of reference against which thoughtful Americans judged the rush of events in Europe. It exactly matched journalist to event: the right reporter in the right place at the right time. It stood, and still stands, as so few books have ever done, a pure act of journalistic witness.

©1941 William L. Shirer (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"The most complete news report yet to come out of wartime Germany." (Time)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.5 (55 )
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  •  
    Mark Casnewydd, United Kingdom 23/11/2011
    Mark Casnewydd, United Kingdom 23/11/2011 Member Since 2009
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    "Stunning and beautifully read"

    I had read bits of the book years ago but I had forgotten how compelling it was. Shirer's day-by-day picture of life under the Nazis is uncannily accurate with the hindsight of history. He wrote beautifully although his growing loathing of the Nazis makes the later parts of the book more tirade than report -- loathing the Nazis was, of course, justified but I wish Shirer had tried harder to understand why otherwise-rational Germans didn't share his hatred. He often resorts to sweeping stereotypes about "the German character" and he fails to pursue insights on the Nazi use of class resentment and modern media. Still, worth every minute of listening and the reading adds extra resonance to every sentence.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Neil S. Reddy England 26/09/2013
    Neil S. Reddy England 26/09/2013 Member Since 2011

    Audio books have been an incredible discovery

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    "Fascinating, human and insightful"
    If you could sum up Berlin Diary in three words, what would they be?

    A MUST READ


    Which scene did you most enjoy?

    The author is actually shoved aside by Hitler who has a “feminine, dainty walk”


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    yes


    Any additional comments?

    Despite its title the first third of this book deals with Prague and the shabby sellout of Czechoslovakia by Europe and Britain. A fascinating human focused insight into terrible times-

    Geneva March 14th - “Slovakia has declared its independence, there goes the remains of Czechoslovakia, I should go to Prague but I haven’t the heart, am I growing to softhearted to sentimental to be a good reporter? I don’t mind the killings the bloodshed…but Prague, I can’t face it.”

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Francis Horsham, United Kingdom 04/11/2012
    Francis Horsham, United Kingdom 04/11/2012 Member Since 2010
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    "Great insight into 1930s/40s Germany"

    Well worth listening to for anyone interested in the second world war. I liked the fact that it was written at the time, so without the benefit of hindsight - and William Shirer got a lot of things right about how countries would fall to the Nazis. He also showed how the German tactics were the same, country by country, which I hadn't known before.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard rochester, United Kingdom 29/12/2011
    Richard rochester, United Kingdom 29/12/2011 Member Since 2008
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    "Unique and fascinating"

    This story is best listen to with a good Knowledge of the events. As a diary the author of course does not know what will happen next so some of the accounts are based purely on his own interpretation of the situation and was some times incorrect. This is not a criticism as it actually shows how isolated the German population where from events outside there own country much like North Korea today. Every book written about World War 2 is started by an author who knows the outcome so this is a unique account in every way. Don’t expect a traditional structure to this book and you'll be fine. There is a lot of everyday detail in this account that does not appear in the Rise and Fall. A great listen.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brian Paisley, United Kingdom 06/09/2011
    Brian Paisley, United Kingdom 06/09/2011 Member Since 2007
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    "Exhilarating and informative"

    An amazing journey through a time we rarely hear about. A completely new perspective on the war and the litany of errors made before it even started.

    Excellent content and well read.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stephen 10/07/2014
    Stephen 10/07/2014 Member Since 2008
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    "Behind-the Scenes Bulletins from an Insightful Man"
    If you could sum up Berlin Diary in three words, what would they be?

    A fascinating account of the acquisition of power by the Nazis, their use of propaganda, the acquiescence of the population-and indeed other governments-the momentum towards war and the brutally efficient execution of the early phases of that war by the German military. If I had to choose just three words to sum up the story, they would be evil, capitulation, hope. My three words to characterize the book would be humane, perceptive, life-affirming.


    Which scene did you most enjoy?

    I particularly enjoyed the scene in which Shirer was approached by a Nazi censor wielding a transcript of a radio transmission made by one of Shirer's colleagues. After reading it and concluding that the correspondent's ironic tone had perhaps been slightly overdone, Shirer was preparing, nevertheless, to defend the script. "What's the matter with it?" he asked. He was astounded to hear the German praise the script and tell Shirer that it was the sort of broadcast that Shirer might someday make if he could only overcome his anti-Nazi prejudice!


    If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    When illusions of civilization are shattered, can hope survive?


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ed Kingsley 04/05/2014
    Ed Kingsley 04/05/2014 Member Since 2012
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    "Riveting and unique"
    Any additional comments?

    This has to be one of the most significant diaries of the 20th century and anyone who wants to understand how it felt to live at the heart of the Third Reich while being immune to suffocating censorship should definitely grab this title. It is gripping, pacey and stuffed with vivid depictions of daily life in the Shadow of Hitler. It is also wise and erudite although there are I believe many historians who don't share Shirer's notion that Nazi Germany was particular to the Germanic character and who take the view that German fascism was consistent with totalitarianism around the world. Shirer is not a historian but perhaps he doesn't need to be as his understanding of what was going on in front of him was so obviously unique.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alex LEICESTER, United Kingdom 15/04/2014
    Alex LEICESTER, United Kingdom 15/04/2014 Member Since 2011
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    "As it happened"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Berlin Diary to be better than the print version?

    Great performance and an intriguing story. It was extremely interesting to hear the authors thoughts on what may happen and how close to the actual events that eventually came to pass. His insight into the true character and aims of the Nazis was impressive. I admired his bravery and tenaciousness in getting as much as the truth over to his listeners as possible. If only more British and French politicians had had the same foresight and intelligence things could have been so much different. I would consider this audio version to be better than the print version.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Obviosly the author for his courage and insight


    What does Tom Weiner bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

    His phrasing and emphasis was spot on.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ms Worsley, United Kingdom 15/11/2013
    Ms Worsley, United Kingdom 15/11/2013 Member Since 2013
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    "Excellent listen"
    What made the experience of listening to Berlin Diary the most enjoyable?

    I had the book on my reading wish list, and when I saw it was available on audible I took a chance. It was wonderful, and as I do most of my listening on the bus to and from work, the 'bite sized' chunks that a diary affords, made it perfect for my commute.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Historically it is fascinating to hear what someone living in Berlin at the time thought - I had read that it didn't really address the issue of anti-semitism and genocide; but I felt that it did. Maybe not to the detail that we now know, but it was made clear that journalists were not being given all the information they required.


    Have you listened to any of Tom Weiner’s other performances? How does this one compare?

    I haven't listened to any of Tom Weiner's other performances but I most certainly will now.


    Any additional comments?

    I only wish that William Shriver had stayed longer in Berlin - although he of course didn't want to!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-9 of 9 results
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  • Sandy
    BUCKETTY, Australia
    31/07/11
    Overall
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    Story
    "Rivetting listening experience"

    At first I lamented Grover Gardner was not the reader, having found Mr Gardner's reading of 'The Rise and Fall...' excellent. And initially Tom Weiner's pace was too fast for my idea of a 'Journal' reading, my ear adjusted and the content became dominant. OK I am not an historian and I did not study modern history at school. As I listen now, I am having to adjust my understanding of so much that was going on in Europe prior to the official start of WW11. Being a journal the immediacy of events as they unfolded is giving me a whole new picture. I have seen the movies, read the fiction and seen some of the propaganda films released by The Allies, Take on that this is a journal, written as events were being played out and the reflections of William L. Shirer are truly an eye and heart opener. One feels the frustrations and disbelief that leaders at the time behaved as they did.
    I am still listening, and so impressed by this 'Berlin Diary" that I can only highly recommend this to any with an interest in World War11, to learn how so important our Journalists are, when free of censorship from government and employer.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • Jeffrey
    St. Louis Park, MN, United States
    07/12/11
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    "Unfolding of war in real time"

    This diary of William Shirer, published in 1941, provides an unfolding of Europe's plunge into war from 1934-1941 by an American reporter who recorded these events as they happened while he was there during this period. Shirer proved insightful as to what the Nazi's were up to as France and Britain failed to stand up to Hitler's string of demands for more of Europe's land. The narration is excellent as he reads Shirer's diary entries and you feel like you are back there in time listening to the events unfold as Shirer describes them.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Amazon Customer
    17/09/12
    Overall
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    "Compelling listening"
    What did you love best about Berlin Diary?

    the book gives the reader the opportunity to see events unfold as per the generation that lived through the second world war. It offers a time travellers view of history as it unfolds


    What other book might you compare Berlin Diary to and why?

    Possibly on a par with :Downfall but has more impact in its revealing of the key Nazi protagonists


    What about Tom Weiner’s performance did you like?

    Well read and presented


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I tried to listen in one sitting but the reader need to spread it over a few sittings to appreciate the content


    Any additional comments?

    The book has chilling impact in the light of hindsight

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Peter
    ADelaide, Australia
    17/09/12
    Overall
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    "Personal and personable account of the nazi rise."
    What did you love best about Berlin Diary?

    Berlin diary presented a firsthand experiential account of the rise and conquests of Nazi Germany by Shirer, who was actually there (in Berlin and various other relevant locations) at the time. Presented in diary form, the story unfolded as events happened and became known to Shirer, rather than a narrative by one who already "knew how it would end".


    What did you like best about this story?

    The "voice" of Shirer, the personable way he wrote, the little extras of almost irrelevant diary writings.


    What three words best describe Tom Weiner’s voice?

    Fast. American. Warm.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No. The diary form made it approachable over a period of a couple of weeks.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Robert
    GOLDENS BRIDGE, NEW YORK, United States
    26/02/14
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    "The Real Rise and Fall"

    If you found "Rise and Fall" to be a gripping book, as I did, then I think you will find "Berlin Diaries" to be a wonderful listen. Here you learn all the thoughts of a witness to an amazing place and time. Particularly striking is the insanity of what Shirer is and is not allowed to report. The world was turned upside-down and Shirer tells you about it as if you were having a drink at the press club. Wonderful insights into easy things that the British might have done better... for example, bombing doesn't need to be massive to be effective, Shirer explains that even small bombings during the night in Berlin have the effect of keeping everyone awake and dramatically affecting war production, not to mention jangling nerves. You see Shirer becoming more and more cynical as the war begins to go badly and his access to real news vs. propaganda is limited. The book leaves you wanting to learn a lot more about his wife Tess who seems like a very interesting character in her own right. Shirer explains so clearly successes of the Third Reich early in the war; you understand what it means to build a war machine, to consider all the technical details, to keep all your aircraft hidden a short distance from the airfields so that the bombing of an airfield produces limited damage. Shirer explains Hitler's misperception of British attitudes. I found the book truly fascinating.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Michael
    RICHLAND, WA, United States
    02/02/14
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    "Great book, not the right medium."

    Shirer is great. I really enjoyed his massive tome on the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, and I really enjoyed this, too. Unfortunately, I really wished I had the text for this one. I really liked the story, but a diary like this exists in the twilight world between narrative and reference, and getting it from Audible only really allows you to get the narrative, because it's value as a reference is drastically diminished by the fact that you can't flip through it or search the text. I suppose I could spend a week going through and placing bookmarks and abstracts at the beginning of each entry, but that isn't going to happen soon. So as a story, I highly recommended it, but as an audiobook I would say that you really need to consider what you want it for, because the medium's inherent limitations may get in the way.

    BTW, I want to make it clear that I have no problem with the narrator. I gave it low marks on performance, but that is only because it seemed like the best category under which to reflect my ambivalence.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Molly
    Goshen, IN, United States
    24/09/13
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    "a LOOK inside Nazi Germany~ 5 STARS~ excellent ~!~"

    PLOT: a newsman's view of Nazi Germany from the inside.

    William L. Shirer and his wife Tess are living in 1930s Berlin and they view from the inside the Nazi preparing for War. This written in diary form. This starts with the march on the Rhine. This shows us first hand a glimpse into the mind set of Hitler and his Henchmen. We see the people put on rations so the Nazi War Machine can go full force against most of Europe one country at a time. Especially interesting is the Nazi Propaganda hiding the "bombings" on England to give the German People motive to continue the War. We see first hand how far the Nazi Lies go to motive, hide and deceive both the German People and the world. Shirer is both articulate and interesting as he gives us his view of the "inner circle" of Hitler. and we see first hand how FAR the lies of the Nazis go. Included in the start of the "euthanasia" in German with the mentally ill and disabled and why the German excuse of "ending their suffering" was both a threat and lie fulfilled. The READER if first rate and this is both an excellent audio plus a view inside the making of the Nazi climb to power and how they stayed there. I just purchased The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich because this audio was so very good. Typically history is not this interesting. and so very revealing of the "German" mindset and the ruthless way Nazis used it to get a foothold into power and so effectively used it to achieve total control of the German People. Especially effective is the use of Propaganda and total control of the information people received by Newspapers and Radio which "ADDED" to the 'control and motivation' on the road to World War 2. 5 STARS~~~

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Tyler
    Red Deer, AB, Canada
    07/04/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "I loved it!"

    So I am on my second go around of this audio book. I loved it, very detailed, interesting, and greatly narrated. I recommend it for anyone who might be interested in a little behind the scenes action of 20th century Europe.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • James A K Fletcher
    Tokyo, Japan
    03/12/12
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "An amazing insight into life under the Nazi regime"
    Where does Berlin Diary rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    I am a post-graduate history student and a World War II fanatic. This is in my top 5 audiobooks.


    What did you like best about this story?

    It is a first-hand account of living under the Nazis.


    Have you listened to any of Tom Weiner’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Tom Weiner is fabulous, although he pronounces "short-lived" as if it rhymes with "short-dived".


    Any additional comments?

    A fabulous audiobook.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Stephen D Maus
    REPUBLIC, MO, US
    19/12/12
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A WWII classic"
    Would you listen to Berlin Diary again? Why?

    Yes, In order to keep reminding myself of what can happen to a nation of sheep.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Author's understanding of what was going on on in Germany.


    Any additional comments?

    It shows what can happen in a country when the people of a nation become mesmerized by a leader who demonizes a group in society in order to assume complete power. In Germany it was Jews who were blamed, Here it is "the rich".

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
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