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.
"The most complete news report yet to come out of wartime Germany." (Time)
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.
Audio books have been an incredible discovery
A MUST READ
The author is actually shoved aside by Hitler who has a “feminine, dainty walk”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
17th Century Heretic
Shirer gives a unique and compelling account of his experience of Germany before and during the start of WW2. A justly famous book and very well read.
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.
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!
When illusions of civilization are shattered, can hope survive?
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.
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.
Obviosly the author for his courage and insight
His phrasing and emphasis was spot on.
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.
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.
I haven't listened to any of Tom Weiner's other performances but I most certainly will now.
I only wish that William Shriver had stayed longer in Berlin - although he of course didn't want to!
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