In the mid-1920s, Iowa farm boy and sometime reporter William L. Shirer
came to Paris, intending, like so many of his contemporaries, to become a great expatriate novelist. He found that his talent lay in the realm of fact, however, and for the next decade and a half he covered wars, revolutions, famines, and plagues in Africa, Europe, and the Middle East for a succession of newspapers. His reporting skills landed him a post in Berlin in the mid-1930s, where he was able to see firsthand Adolf Hitler's ascent to power, an experience that illuminated the pages of Shirer's classic, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich
"This Is Berlin", a collection of Shirer's radio scripts, crackles with even greater immediacy. It describes, as they were occurring, the great events on which Shirer would reflect in his later book, among them the Nazi annexation of Austria and northwestern Czechoslovakia, the Munich Pact, the German invasion of Poland, and subsequent conquest of much of the rest of Europe. Acting as eyes and ears for his American audience, Shirer provides details that are often absent from standard histories of World War II, among them the viewpoints of the German media and ordinary citizens in the face of crisis. He also delivers revealing tidbits of information in passing, such as his list of the bestselling books in Germany at the start of World War II--at the top of which is Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind, followed by the expected anti-British and anti-Soviet screeds. Shirer's reportage makes for fascinating reading, and it provides an important new primary source for historians, as well. --Gregory McNamee
From Publishers Weekly
Shirer's (The Nightmare Years, etc.) broadcasts from Berlin during the days leading up to and during the early years of WWII, like Edward R. Murrow's from London, stand as one of the great pillars of broadcast journalism. Now collected for the first time in a single volume, they will also stand as one of the great testimonials from that chaotic period when the sides were being chosen up and no one was exactly sure what would come next. Shirer's broadcasts, written and transmitted under the noses of Nazi censors, are models of eloquence and subterfuge as Shirer's daughter, Inga Shirer Dean, points out in her preface, sarcasm and irony were one of Shirer's few means of getting an unpleasant fact past the censors) and read so well that one can imagine their power transmitted over the radio waves to an unsettled world. Produced for a civilian audience back in the U.S., Shirer's reports present the facts in a clear and direct way that explains the alliances, beliefs and concerns of the first part of the war; his broadcasts about the Hitler-Stalin alliance and his explanation of the Anschluss offer a firsthand look at history in the making with such immediacy that any reader will find it hard to put down. 16 pages photos. (Dec.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.