- Paperback: 992 pages
- Publisher: Hill and Wang; F First Paperback Edition edition (November 1, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 080909326X
- ISBN-13: 978-0809093267
- Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1.8 x 0.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 55 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #107,235 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Third Reich: A New History F First Paperback Edition Edition
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Humans have a fascination with evil. We long to identify it, quantify it, and understand it. To this end, newspapers frequently splash photographs of murderers with the caption "The face of evil." Heading most lists of the 20th century's most evil people would be Adolf Hitler, but, as Michael Burleigh's tour de force makes clear, evil is not always as cut-and-dried as we would like. The Nazis could not have come to power and committed Germany to a policy of war and genocide without the tacit consent of the German people. This makes Germany as a whole responsible for the crimes committed in its name, but it is clearly wrong to label every German as evil. Through his painstaking research and direct prose, Burleigh slowly builds up a picture of a people desperate for identity and economic prosperity, who, bit by bit, closed off their conscience as the price of their dreams. There was no one cathartic moment when Germany, under the Third Reich, lapsed from goodness into badness; rather, there was an incremental realignment of a collective morality. Burleigh's explanation of this phenomenon is so simple, yet so obviously right, that you can only wonder that it didn't become the generally accepted currency years ago.
Instead of viewing Nazi Germany in purely social, political, and economic terms--though he doesn't ignore these spheres--Burleigh wraps them all into a picture of a country gripped in a religious, messianic fervor, and that which had previously felt inexplicable suddenly seems clear. If you want the nitty-gritty details of the Second World War and the genocide, they are here, retold as well as, if not better than, many of the other histories of this period. But it's Burleigh's take on the people of Germany that makes this book so special. Above all, with similar genocidal wars currently being fought in Kosovo, Rwanda, and Iraq, it makes you think, "Would I be able to resist becoming complicit in such regimes?" This is a must for every 20th-century historian. --John Crace, Amazon.co.uk --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
After literally thousands of books have been written on the Nazis and their history, the author who attempts another one has to have a compelling reason. Burleigh, professor of history at Washington and Lee University and author of several books on Germany, focuses on the moral breakdown that gave Hitler control of an industrial society, which then, along with the rest of the world, suffered the catastrophic consequences. Though the topic is not new, the treatment is first-rate, making this indeed a new history. For example, as he does elsewhere, in the case of the Roehm purge, he omits many of the well-known details in order to explain its significance with clarity and even verve. Burleigh treats Christian opponents of Hitler with more kindness than they usually receive, and his treatment of anti-Semitism as something quite minor in the lives of most Germans of the period will no doubt stir up controversy, as will his unusual emphasis on non-Jewish victims of the Nazis. The author emphasizes the perspectives of individuals who lived through these events, giving his book a democratic flavor uncommon since William L. Shirer's famous history. But the primary value of Burleigh's book lies in its overview of the interpretations made by others. However, the book is not without flaws: Burleigh's prejudices toward conservatives lead him to write of the feckless German officers as more heroic than they were and to sneer at the left-wing opponents of the Nazi regime who suffered far more in their struggle. And his writing is sometimes too clever. His reference to the sadistic and murderous Franz Alfred Six as a "1968er avant la lettre" is an example of both flaws at once. Such lapses are minor annoyances, though. Burleigh has produced an important work of synthesis that recapitulates an impressive array of sources. It deserves to become the jumping-off point for scholars who want to take their studies of this uniquely horrible era in new directions. Illus. not seen by PW. (Oct.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
Another fine aspect of this work is that while it does not flinch at looking hard at the ugliest chapter in European history, he does not stare mawkishly at the bizarre figures of Hitler, Goering, Goebbels and the like. Indeed the reader is expected more or less to know the members of the cast. I agree with the other reviewers that this book is now a standard entry in World War II histories and among studies of modern European history as well.
Michael Burleigh's main thesis is that the upcoming of Nazisms can be understood as a spurious religious movement. Nazism carefully design Hitler's image through propaganda, with a whole mythology surrounding him in his messianic role. How this mythology redirected religious fervor is an astonishing account but Burleigh bring it to life with his great insights.
The book is not an easy read, so is not for people that want a fast introduction to Nazi Germany. It is, however, a very well documented and written analysis. The main facts are only mentioned and the reader is expected to know them, this is not why this book is called a "New History". His interpretation is what makes the book a worthy (New History) read for anyone that wants more in-depth analysis of those year.
I gave the book 4 stars only because Burleigh abuses the negative adjectives (evil, insane, atrocious, etc...) which I think is totally unnecessary giving the context and expecting smart and informed readers (what's the point of ending a sentence or a paragraph of massive murder in the Eastern Front with those words, isn't it obvious enough?).
Unfortunately, as other reviewers have correctly pointed out, the book does not read well. Geared to impress an academic audience, Burleigh's writing style is arcane. The book cries out for a good edit. My wife, a college professor herself, said she would grade the book "A" for content, and "F" for writing style and said that it is very typical of PhD types who are trying to impress. Spare us Dr. Burleigh, you do not need to work so hard to impress, your scholarship and your research speak loudly enough. Write for the wider audience that needs to read and understand this important book.
For the reader willing to sit with a good, comprehensive dictionary in hand, wading through this book is worth the effort because the insight gleaned does prove valuable. For those not so inclined, this latest effort at a solid, single volume history of the Third Reich falls short. We are still waiting for that book to be written.
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persecuted and it'll be published...Read more