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The Coming of the Third Reich Paperback – February 1, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

On March 30, 1933, two months after Hitler achieved power, Paul Nikolaus, a Berlin cabaret comedian, wrote disconsolately, "For once, no joke. I am taking my own life.... [U]nfortunately I have fallen in love with my Fatherland. I cannot live in these times." How Germans could remain in love with their fatherland under Nazism and even contribute willingly to its horrific extremism is the subject of Cambridge historian Evans's gripping if overwhelmingly detailed study, the first of three projected volumes. Readers watch a great and historic culture grow grotesquely warped from within, until, in 1933, a dictatorial state was imposed upon the ruins of the Weimar republic. A host of shrill demagogues had, in the preceding decades, become missionaries to an uneasy coalition of the discontented, eager to subvert Germany's democratic institutions. This account contrasts with oversimplified diagnoses of how Nazism succeeded in taking possession of the German psyche. Evans asserts that Hitler's manipulative charisma required massive dissatisfaction and resentment available to be exploited. Nazism found convenient scapegoats in historic anti-Semitism, the shame of an imposed peace after WWI and the weakness of an unstable government alien to the disciplined German past. Although there have been significant recent studies of Hitler and his regime, like Ian Kershaw's brilliant two volumes, Evans (In Hitler's Shadow, etc.) broadens the historic perspective to demythologize how morbidly fertile the years before WWI were as an incubator for Hitler. 31 illus., 18 maps.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

This is the first volume in a projected three-volume history of Nazi Germany. Cambridge history professor Evans states clearly that this is a work aimed at general readers who hope to gain a fuller and deeper understanding of the course and causes of the Nazi rise to power. Although he breaks no new ground, Evans has written a highly readable and comprehensive account. Thankfully, he does not fall into the trap of looking for proto-Nazis as far back as Luther; however, Evans credibly asserts that the roots of National Socialism can be uncovered in the Germany of Bismarck, which had all of the stresses and tensions of a rapidly modernizing society. While acknowledging that strains of virulent nationalism and anti-Semitism were prevalent in other European nations, Evans shows that these tendencies combined with other vulnerabilities in Germany in an especially volatile mix. This is a first-rate narrative history that informs and educates and may inspire readers to delve even deeper into the subject. Jay Freeman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (February 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780143034698
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143034698
  • ASIN: 0143034693
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1.2 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (154 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,655 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

One of three books about the Third Reich, Richard Evans does a great job on explaining how the Nazi party and WWII "happened".
Florida Brian
Evans is attempting to reach a broad audience with a book that provides appropriate narration for the general readers and sufficient analysis to be useful to scholars.
R. Albin
Evans makes clear that many well intentioned Germans resisted, disdained, or fought the Nazi party all the way to its full grip on power.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

381 of 394 people found the following review helpful By Kurt Harding VINE VOICE on April 20, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I have read perhaps more than a hundred books on the Third Reich from almost every angle possible. This morning, I finished the Coming of the Third Reich then I read the reviews posted here to see just how different perceptions affect other readers' understanding of the material. After digesting some of the commentary, I wondered if we had read the same book.
This is the first time I've read a book by Richard Evans so I can't compare and contrast with his other work on the same subject. At no point did I detect excessive moralizing or self-congratulatory passages. I would urge those who have not yet read the book to read the preface. Its very important. Evans explains that he is breaking no new ground but that this book is primarily for the edification of those who know little or nothing about Hitler or the Third Reich. It is an overview with different angles than those of Shirer, Kershaw, and Burleigh and that is part of what makes this book so useful. Rather than dwell on the poverty of Hitler's youth and his anti-Semitism, though Evans does cover these, the focus is on the political, economic and social situation of the ill-fated Weimar Republic and how it became fertile soil for extremism.
Evans has written a coherent, interesting, and fast-paced explanation for the rise of the Nazis to the top of the extremist crop of political fringe groups that got their start following WWI. It is useful to remember that out of the ashes of defeat in the war, myriad extremist groups popped up in Germany like mushrooms in a Mississippi cow pasture after a spring shower.
The Weimar Republic was a fractious cacophony of partisan squabbling.
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105 of 114 people found the following review helpful By Brian D. Rubendall HALL OF FAME on February 6, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Many historical works about Nazi Germany focus on the cult of personality that surrounded Adolf Hitler. And while it is true that without Hitler there would have been no Nazi movement, it is equally true that Hitler as a leader could only have flourished in the hothouse political environment that was post-World War I Germany. Historian Richard Evans?s ?The Coming of the Third Reich,? the first in a trilogy about the Nazis that takes the movement up to Hitler?s 1933 ascension to power, concentrates on those qualities of the German nation that made it susceptible to his virulent brand of fanatical nationalism and racism. This is an important historical work that will soon take its place alongside the best books ever written about the subject.
Evans is a meticulous researcher, but even more importantly he is a good storyteller whose easy prose brings the subject matter to life for the reader. He begins his story in the days of the legendary Otto von Bismark, the so-called ?Iron Chancellor,? who once and for all united the German nation in 1870. Evans shows how the latent intellectual seeds of ferocious nationalism, militarism and subdued but prevalent anti-Semitism that would later spring to life so forcefully were sown into the body politic of Germany, waiting for the catastrophic defeat of the First World War to help bring them into full flower. This worthwhile examination of previous German history is often overlooked, or gets only perfunctory treatment, in other books about the Nazis. Indeed, Hitler himself is not mentioned by name here until after almost 160 pages of text.
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61 of 66 people found the following review helpful By Barron Laycock HALL OF FAME on May 29, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As Karl Marx once wrote, people make their own history, but not under conditions of their own choosing. So it is that academic Richard J. Evans from Cambridge University approaches the superb first volume of the planned trilogy of a complete history of the rise and fall of the Third Reich, ?The Coming Of the Third Reich?, recognizing the existential constraints people living in the era of National Socialism faced. As Professor Evans puts it, not only are men constrained and shaped by the unique and quite specific web of cultural and social conditions in which they are enmeshed, but they also view these particular conditions through a particular perspective, and through the prism of a socially prescribed set of values, beliefs, and ideologies. Thus, the author argues that in the vast bibliography of works covering the history of the Nazi era, no one has yet covered the epoch in a fashion that does justice to the complex welter of ways, as sociologist C. Wright Mills would phrase it, in which biography and history meaningfully intersect such that one can appreciate what it was like for an individual to live in the times of the National Socialists, and to experience life on the ground as real people who lived through the turbulent 1930s and 1949s did.

Indeed, this trilogy is offered in a brilliant attempt to render such a comprehensive history that makes sense of how it that such a baffling and troubling phenomenon could arise in what was considered the most economically, socially, and culturally advanced society of the early 20th century. This volume recounts the story of the origins of the Third Reich in 19th century Germany, from the its very beginnings as Bismarck?
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