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The Long Night: William L. Shirer and the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by Steve Wick

Saturday, July 30, 2011
The story of legendary American journalist William L. Shirer and how his first-hand reporting on the rise of the Nazis and on World War II brought the devastation alive for millions of Americans

When William L. Shirer started up the Berlin bureau of Edward R. Murrow’s CBS News in the 1930s, he quickly became the most trusted reporter in all of Europe. Shirer hit the streets to talk to both the everyman and the disenfranchised, yet he gained the trust of the Nazi elite and through these contacts obtained a unique perspective of the party’s rise to power.
Unlike some of his esteemed colleagues, he did not fall for Nazi propaganda and warned early of the consequences if the Third Reich was not stopped. When the Germans swept into Austria in 1938 Shirer was the only American reporter in Vienna, and he broadcast an eyewitness account of the annexation. In 1940 he was embedded with the invading German army as it stormed into France and occupied Paris. The Nazis insisted that the armistice be reported through their channels, yet Shirer managed to circumvent the German censors and again provided the only live eyewitness account. His notoriety grew inside the Gestapo, who began to build a charge of espionage against him. His life at risk, Shirer had to escape from Berlin early in the war. When he returned in 1946 to cover the Nuremberg trials, Shirer had seen the full arc of the Nazi menace. It was that experience that inspired him to write The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich—the magisterial, definitive history of the most brutal ten years the modern world had known—which has sold millions of copies and has become a classic.
Drawing on never-before-seen journals and letters from Shirer’s time in Germany, award-winning reporter Steve Wick brings to life the maverick journalist as he watched history unfold and first shared it with the world.

Good Reads Summary


The Long Night is a very powerful nonfiction book. The plot concerns Hitler's rise to power and the destruction that ensued after. Shirer, the main character, was the only reporter who reported every brutal event. He was one of the few not to fall for Nazi propaganda while still remaining (for a little while) in Germany and among the soldiers and Nazi elite. The author has the ability to make the events appear as if they are occurring right when the reader is reading about them. The atmosphere and permeating fear and horror is tangible, as is the desperation.

Shirer is an admirable character to read about. He reported his findings accurately, much to the chagrin and impending threats by the Nazi party. He advocated early warnings about the true intentions of the Nazi party and he stayed for as long as possible in the heart of the chaos. The reader will grow close to Shirer while reading this novel and share his hopelessness and need for the truth to be known. Shirer and the reader both will feel increasingly disparaging towards powerful leaders and the people who should have listened and taken into consideration Shirer's reports. A history buff and the average nonfiction reader will devour this nonfiction book.

4 Stars

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