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The Coming of the Third Reich Paperback – February 1, 2005
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There is no story in twentieth-century history more important to understand than Hitler’s rise to power and the collapse of civilization in Nazi Germany. With The Coming of the Third Reich, Richard Evans, one of the world’s most distinguished historians, has written the definitive account for our time. A masterful synthesis of a vast body of scholarly work integrated with important new research and interpretations, Evans’s history restores drama and contingency to the rise to power of Hitler and the Nazis, even as it shows how ready Germany was by the early 1930s for such a takeover to occur. The Coming of the Third Reich is a masterwork of the historian’s art and the book by which all others on the subject will be judged.
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So, since I have described how I came to read this book as well as my bonafides to review it I guess I should get on to my review. Evans' book is one of the finest I have ever read on both the roots of German culture in the years both preceding and after the Great War as well as how the Weimar Republic Collapsed into the Third Reich. The documentation is superb and the writing is interesting and compelling. Evans avoids the flaw incumbent in the work so many historians; "I researched this fact, it is going in the book, damn it!" which allows the work to move at a very nice pace. Many a night while reading the book I was staying up far past my bedtime because I simply could not put it down. I am very well versed in the subject matter but somehow Evans has managed to write a book that is readable and interesting to an expert such as I and is at the same time completely approachable and understandable to someone with but the most limited background in the period. I can hardly wait to immerse myself in the ensuing two volumes. However I do not expect the third volume to grip me quite so firmly as I am far more interested in how the Third Reich and its leader came to be than again reading a tale of the evil it did. If you are new to the detailed study of this subject I highly recommend reading this work and then moving on to Timothy Snyder's "Black Earth" a book that does a better job of explaining Hitler's political theories and philosophies than any other work I have read so far.
I found the most interesting chapters of “The Coming of the Third Reich” are those that show how the Adolf Hitler and the National Socialists “coordinated” (their term) the entire nation under their dictatorial, one-party regime once they had attained power. The Nazis used a combination of legal means – the promulgation of several laws passed by the government – as well as street riots, murder, intimidation, and thuggery – to consolidate their power over the nation. Every aspect of German society – art, music, literature, science, journalism, education, business, industry, finance, and others – was subject to this brutal “coordination” by the Nazis. A key feature of the National Socialist program was, of course, Hitler’s promise to eliminate the Jews from German society. Evans describes in great detail how Hitler and his minions, with the tacit approval of many Germans, began implementing their brutal and ultimately genocidal plan to eradicate the Jews from not only Germany, but Europe as well.
Richard J. Evans writes with a lively and engaging style that held my interest throughout this book’s 672 pages. (It only took me ten days to read it from cover to cover.) I do not think “The Coming of the Third Reich” is quite as easy to read as William L. Shirer’s “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich,” but in many ways, I think it is much better. It provides greater detail, and there is much more historical analysis that accompanies its fast-paced narrative. I gained a tremendous amount of new knowledge from “The Coming of the Third Reich,” and enjoyed reading it tremendously. Highly recommended.