As of course every diary should be. But in this case it is also written by sb who was very close to the actors of this great tragedy. W. Shirer is an US correspondent in Nazi-germany from 1934 until the beginning of 1941. He is also a pioneer in the transcontinental broadcast via shortwave, bringing the european news into the homes of a growing american audience. Although censored, he is able to give some hints between the lines, telling stories about atrocities, propaganda lies and what really happend. But his real uncensored story is written in this book. About the germans blindly following the Fuehrer, about nights in darkened Berlin, Air Raids and bombings during broadcasts, which he was not allowed to mention, and his growing disgust against everything connected with the Nazis. 4 Stars omly, because he has got some prejudices as well, while he is writing about the "Berliner" or the Austrians, he is generalizing a lot. But in the end its still a diary... It was for me an additional angle from which to look on this part of our history. One which is more personal, much closer to the actual events and therefore more emotional than anything I have read before
I'm the chap from Christchurch, New Zealand who wrote an admonition directed towards one of the other customer reviewers. My one-line summary of the review reads something like "Don't be like the reviewer above..." or some such rot but actually what I meant to say was "Don't be like the reviewer BELOW..." and by below I meant the bloke who couldn't quite conceal his distasteful sympathies by referring to the book as "a childish work". Anyway, I didn't realize that these reviews appear in descending order (my only excuse is that by living in the southern hemisphere, everything is naturally upside down thus accounting for my appalling lack of a sense of direction). I do feel like just the most priceless *** imaginable and I do apologize for the confusion that may have ensued, although every word I wrote is as true now as it was then. I'm a wee bit red-faced about my mistake but the reviewer way down BELOW should weep in shame for harbouring such thoughts. G'day!
As an example of you-are-there journalism, Shirer's work is as good as it gets, and that's why Columbia University ranked it as one of the century's top 100 works of reportage recently. But Shirer, writing before the U.S. even entered the war, shows himself to be an incredibly prescient analyst of why Hitler decided against invading Britain, for example, as well as how the German-Russian alliance would end and how the U.S. would get involved in the war. All around, this is an excellent book. After finishing it this past weekend, I wanted to drop Shirer a note to say how much I enjoyed it; unfortunately, he died in 1993. All journalists should read this book.
I enjoyed this book's sense of "being there," and its quiet outrage against Nazi brutalities. Shirer's diary has lost none of its power since 1941, when as the world's best-selling non-fiction work it aided interventionist sentiment in the U.S. It's companion published in 1947, End of A Berlin Diary, adds illumination but isn't as moving. Although raised Presbyterian, Shirer's sympathies led some to believe him Jewish. Still, the last line of introduction sets the chilling tenor of that era; "The Gestapo will find no clues."
Books like this need to be read if only to remind us that what it chronicles isn't really over. There are no excuses, no justifications, allowed for what happened during this time period. Even in something as innoucuous as a book review we have to be vigilant for any attempts to lessen the absolute horror and revulsion we should feel for any and every aspect of Nazi Germany. The above reviewer should be profoundly ashamed of himself because this is a simple question of good vs. evil and there is no acceptable middle ground in this matter.
Mr Shirer can truly make you feel like you're in Europe in the 30's. He has a knack for balancing his emotions and his objectivity (more so in "The Rise and Fall...") without detracting from the excitement of the events at hand. It's certainly not cliche to say that his books are hard to put down.