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Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 [Kindle Edition]

William L. Shirer
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (413 customer reviews)

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Book Description

A radio broadcaster and journalist for Edward R. Murrow at CBS, William Shirer was new to the world of broadcast journalism when he began keeping a diary while in Europe during the 1930s. It was in 1940, still a virtual unknown, that Shirer wondered whether his reminiscences of the collapse of the world around Nazi Germany could be of any interest or value as a book.

Shirer's Berlin Diary, which is considered the first full record of what was happening in Germany during the rise of the Third Reich, first appeared in 1941. The book was an instant success. But how did Shirer get such a valuable firsthand account? He had anonymous sources willing to speak with him, provided their identity remained protected and disguised so as to avoid retaliation from the Gestapo. Shirer recorded his and others' eyewitness views to the horror that Hitler was inflicting on his people in his effort to conquer Europe. Shirer continued his job as a foreign correspondent and radio reporter for CBS until Nazi press censors made it virtually impossible for him to do his job with any real accuracy. He left Europe, taking with him the invaluable, unforgettable (and horrific) contents of his Berlin Diary.

Berlin Diary brings the reader as close as any reporter has ever been to Hitler and the rise of the Third Reich. Shirer's honest, lucid and passionate reporting of the brutality with which Hitler came to power and the immediate reactions of those who witnessed these events is for all time.


William Shirer (1904-1993) was originally a foreign correspondent for the Chicago Tribune and was the first journalist hired by Edward R. Murrow for what would become a team of journalists for CBS radio. Shirer distinguished himself and quickly became known for his broadcasts from Berlin during the rise of the Nazi dictatorship through the first year of World War II. Shirer was the first of "Edward R. Murrow's Boys" - broadcast journalists - who provided news coverage during World War II and afterward. It was Shirer who broadcast the first uncensored eyewitness account of the annexation of Austria. Shirer is best known for his books The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich which won the National Book Award and Berlin Diary.

Editorial Reviews


''The most complete news report yet to come out of war-time Germany.'' --Time

From the Publisher

"There is absolutely no better book by an American about the rise of the Third Reich. A gripping—and harrowing—view from inside Hitler's Germany." —Lamar Graham

Product Details

  • File Size: 1256 KB
  • Print Length: 627 pages
  • Publisher: RosettaBooks (October 23, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005Z553RA
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,322 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
104 of 106 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent January 24, 2005
If you are interested in this period in history, you should read this book. Shirer offers a day-by-day history of life in Germany during the rise of Nazism and beginning of the war. That alone would be enough for a great book, but there is much more. Shirer covers many aspects of the war; he writes eloquently and accurately about the naivety of pre-war British diplomacy, strategy on both sides, and the Nazi clique. He provides an early glimpse at horrors of Nazi genocide. And his personal story is fascinating, as he travels across Europe, worries about his family, and matches wits with his censors to get as much of the story out as he can. Berlin Diary is very well written and hard to put down. Gems of description abound; for example, he describes a visit to a Lisbon casino: "Tonight, Ed [Murrow] and I did the casino. The gaming rooms were full of a weird assortment of human beings, German and British spies, male and female, wealthy refuges who had mysteriously managed to get a lot of money out and were throwing it about freely, other refugees who were broke and were trying to win their passage money with a few desperate gambles with the fickle roulette wheel..." Highly recommended.
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42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Solid eye-witness account November 27, 1999
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."
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46 of 49 people found the following review helpful
If you haven't yet read Herr Schirer's all time classic "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich", or if you just completed it, this is the greatest companion book. Heck - even if you don't intend to read "The Rise and Fall" - read it anyway. It gives such great insight into the mind of one of the greatest correspondents of the modern era and the great historians of the Third Reich. It also helps you to see the war from the side of the German people - after all, they did have to deal with Hitler - and his legacy the longest. As you will see, this is Shirer's personal diary, in which he speaks lovingly about his wife and newborn and worries about their safety in Switzerland. He deals with his trips to the front and contacts in the foreign ministry. Extremely well written - and a great reference during the long haul of "The Rise and Fall" (Personally, I'm still pushing through "The Rise and Fall" after a year and a half - and yet it's one of the greatest books I've read) Come on! Buy it! You'll thank me! It's an investment you won't regret.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, Well-Written Account of its Time March 31, 2004
Shirer is better known, of course, for having written "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich," which is an excellent first book to read on Nazi history. After reading "The Rise and Fall," though, I stumbled on "Berlin Diary" and I was riveted. Shirer's life as an American correspondent in pre-war Nazi Berlin gave him a unique position from which to observe and chronicle life under the 20th century's most bloodthirsty regime.
Shirer's day-to-day observations are both precise and chilling. I was especially fascinated with how he sparred with--and often outwitted--the Nazi censors. He walked a fine line with many of the stories he filed; he was committed to giving his American readers an accurate depiction of life in Nazi Germany but knew that his characterizations were being closely monitored. I came to really admire his courage and determination, and found the book a pleasure to read.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The One book to read about WWII March 10, 1998
By A Customer
There was a previous reader review of "Berlin Diary" on this site. It gave it a 3 on a scale of 10. I could not disagree more strongly. This is probably the most fasinating book I've ever read. I was sad when it ended. The previous reviewer criticized William Shirer as hardly being objective in the manner required of a journalist. Keep in mind you are reading a diary. A personal account of the beginning of our century's most horrific period. It was written by a man who was the right person in the right place at the right time. Berlin, Munich, Paris and Compiegne. It is the observations of someone witnessing peace slipping away because of driving tyranny (German) and bungling diplomacy (The Allies - where was the U.S.?) If I were teaching a class on WWII, "Berlin Diary" would be the text. Not only does it give us insights into a wide array of subplots to the war but it is the most readable bit of history ever written. I stand by that statement. Read the book.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Berlin Diary by William L. Shirer May 6, 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A well-written contemporaneous account of a correspondent's life in Nazi Germany up to 1940. Shirer is almost prescient in his assessment of Hitler's actions and their consequences. It is unfortunate that he could not continue his reporting after 1940, because an account of this caliber of the years when Germany was at war with America, made from inside Germany, would have been a valuable historical record. Shirer is a true journalist; while he offers opinions, they are clearly labeled as such, and do not get in the way of dispassionate reporting of the events he witnesses.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great detail into the history of World War 2.
Published 5 days ago by Andrea Trujillo
5.0 out of 5 stars One feels like one is there beside him among the bombs and ...
Very personal and well-written account of a reporter and broadcaster. Well worth a read, especially those interested in WWII history. Read more
Published 17 days ago by Joyce C Bradley
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great book!!
Published 24 days ago by Beth
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Very good insights by someone actually in Berlin during the Hitler time, but amazingly homophobic.
Published 29 days ago by Bron Taylor
5.0 out of 5 stars What it was like in Germany before the war
After reading about Edward R Murrow Boys this was a very interesting book to be able to hear what it was like to be there as Germany changed and the Second World War started. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Larry
5.0 out of 5 stars History up close and personal
Very interesting history lesson.
Published 1 month ago by Beach
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
To learn what is next with Putin read this book!
Published 1 month ago by Sharp Lannom
3.0 out of 5 stars ... since it is a diary it gets a little boring at points
Its ok but since it is a diary it gets a little boring at points. Shirer's book "The rise and fall of the third Reich" is a veery good and exciting book but his diary,... Read more
Published 1 month ago by RAG
5.0 out of 5 stars Life in Berlin at the beginning of WWII
Great personal account of early war years in Berlin by an acclaimed journalist. Gives a whole different perspective on the war propaganda the German people were subjected to and... Read more
Published 1 month ago by RileyMae
5.0 out of 5 stars I was a child (born in 1932) during the Second ...
I was a child (born in 1932) during the Second World War. Never had I really understood how and why the US got into the war when it did. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Winnie Thomas
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