I read this ambitious history of the Third Reich in small doses over a period of nine months. So often, I closed the book with my jaw completely dropped. Exceptionally readable and thoroughly researched, historian Thomas Childers's newest work has been hailed as possibly the best one-volume overview of Nazi Germany available, with frequent comparisons to William Shirer's The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. But with access to documents and research Shirer never had, Childers corrects some of the misconceptions of that earlier work. It's a chilling, engrossing read, and absolutely essential to understanding the rise of Hitler's totalitarian regime. Recommended By Lori M., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
The dramatic story of the Third Reich — how Adolf Hitler and a core group of Nazis rose to power and plunged the world into a horrific war, perpetrating the genocidal Holocaust while sacrificing the lives of millions of ordinary Germans.
In The Third Reich, Thomas Childers shows how the young Hitler became passionately political and anti-Semitic as he lived on the margins of society. Fueled by outrage at the punitive terms of the Versailles Treaty that ended the Great War, he found his voice and drew a following.
As his views developed, Hitler attracted like-minded colleagues who formed the nucleus of the nascent Nazi party. The failed Munich putsch of 1923 and subsequent trial gave Hitler a platform for his views, which he skillfully exploited. Between 1924 and 1929 Hitler and his party languished in obscurity on the radical fringes of German politics, but the onset of the Great Depression provided Hitler the issues he needed to move into the mainstream of German political life. He seized the opportunity to blame Germany’s misery on the victorious allies, the Marxists, the Jews, and big business—and the political parties that represented them. By 1932 the Nazis had become the largest political party in Germany. Although Hitler became chancellor in 1933, his party had never achieved a majority in free elections. Within six months the Nazis transformed a dysfunctional democracy into a totalitarian state and began the inexorable march to World War II and the Holocaust.
It is these fraught times that Childers brings to life: the Nazis’ rise to power and their use and abuse of power once they achieved it. Based in part on German documents seldom used by previous historians, The Third Reich charts the dramatic, improbable rise of the Nazis; the suffering of ordinary Germans under Nazi rule; and the horrors of World War II and the Holocaust. This is the most comprehensive and readable one-volume history of Nazi Germany since the classic Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.
"[Childers] is a master of English prose, writing with clarity, elegance, and wit; his account of Nazi Germany is every bit as readable as Shirer's and deserves a wide audience....Offers a series of important correctives to Shirer's narrative, based on a comprehensive knowledge of the research carried out in the half-century and more since The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich was first published." Richard J. Evans, The Nation
"A narrative masterpiece that displays both Childers's profound expertise and genius for story-telling." Walter A. McDougall, Professor of History and Alloy-Ansin Professor of International Relations, University of Pennsylvania, and Pulitzer Prize-winning historian
"Riveting....An elegantly composed study, important and even timely, given current trends in American and global politics." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
About the Author
Thomas Childers was formerly the Sheldon and Lucy Hackney Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania and the recipient of numerous fellowships and awards. Childers has held visiting professorships at Trinity Hall College, Cambridge, Smith College, and Swarthmore College, and he has lectured in London, Oxford, Berlin, Munich, and other universities in the United States and Europe. He is the author or editor of several books about modern German history and the Second World War.