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The Third Reich in Power Paperback – September 26, 2006

4.5 out of 5 stars 105 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The second work in a planned three-volume series (after 2004's Coming of the Third Reich) this book starts with the Nazis' complete assumption of power and creation of a one-party state in 1933, and goes to September 1939 and the beginning of World War II. In sharp detail, Evans shows how Hitler seized upon his political victory and immediately began his plan for the Nazi infiltration of every aspect of German society. The Nazi propaganda blitz covered everything from local councils to social clubs to all voluntary associations. And when propaganda didn't work, coercion and fear did. At the behest of Hitler, the brownshirts and SS (secret police) ruthlessly harassed, beat, and murdered the Jews and Communists first, but later targeted anyone who showed even the slightest criticism of Nazi activities. Those Germans who disapproved of the Nazis were mainly confined to acts of passive resistance to Hitler's totalitarian rule. Nationalism proved to be the one issue capable of galvanizing the nation, as the Nazis' growing power helped to erase the shame and humiliation of the Treaty of Versailles that closed World War I.

Over the course of the book, Evans shows how everything Hitler did in this period was designed to prepare the nation for a war--"a life and death struggle"--whose aim was less geographical conquest than racial purity. Hitler's main objective was "to remould the minds, spirits and bodies of the German people to make them capable and worthy of the role of the new master-race that awaited them." Though Hitler did not work alone, Evans makes it clear that he was the overwhelming driving force behind it all, including policies regarding education, eugenics, and foreign affairs. Well written and logically organized, The Third Reich in Power is an impressive work of meticulous, readable history. --Shawn Carkonen --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. The second volume of Cambridge historian Evans's trilogy on the Third Reich (after The Coming of the Third Reich) is a major achievement. No other recent synthetic history has quite the range and narrative power of Evans's work. There are no surprises here. Instead, the reader will find careful, detailed analyses of all the major issues relating to the Third Reich between Hitler's assumption of power on January 31, 1933, and the start of WWII on September 1, 1939: the construction of the dictatorship, the propaganda, the economy, the racial policy and the planning for war. Evans shows just how difficult it was for Hitler to secure his power in Germany (it required unabashed terror to defeat the Nazis' many opponents), but also how successful was the establishment of the Volksgemeinschaft, the racial community. Once Hitler had successfully consolidated his power, every other aspect of Nazi policy, from education to the economy, became subordinated to the preparation for war. The war, Evans emphasizes, was never simply an effort to redraw the map of Europe. The vast, overarching aim of establishing a racial utopia, a newly modern, German-dominated Europe cleansed of Jews and other undesirables, could only be accomplished through war. When complete, Evans's trilogy will take its place alongside Ian Kershaw's monumental two-volume biography of Hitler as the standard works in English. Illus. and maps not seen by PW.(On sale Oct. 24)
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.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 960 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (September 26, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143037900
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143037903
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 2 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (105 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #173,954 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Perhaps the most brilliant aspect of this series is how the 3 volumes (one still coming) are divided up. Volume 1 is a highly readable and thorough account of how the Nazis came to control Germany. It can be read completely standalone as either a pure history of the times or as a cautionary tale of how a democracy can fail. Volume 3 is to cover the war, and I suspect again it will largely stand on its own given how many other books have already been written about that period of German history.

The period covered by this book, Volume 2, is also self-contained: defined by the period after the Nazis seized power but before the arrival of war swept away most other considerations. Of the three, I think this is the period that is the least well-covered...perhaps in many ways it is the least dramatic. Most histories tend to be divided up more into "before the war" and "the war" with the bulk of the first part covering the rise of the Nazis and treating their time in power as merely prelude to the war itself.

Evans covers the usual topics from this period with suitable detail and emphasis: the persecution of the Jews, the night of long knives and destruction of the SA, the union with Austria and the final stages of the pre-war period in the confrontations with and over Czechoslovakia and Poland. But these topics have been covered elsewhere. For example Donald Cameron Watt's "How War Came" covers the Czech and Polish situations in a more traditional way, as diplomatic history from the points of views of all the players (and arguably in a more readable fashion). Evans in contrast writes from a very German-centric view, which is a nice departure from the norm (at least of books available in English) but can occasionally leave one with a lack of perspective.
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Format: Hardcover
Evan's "Third Reich in Power" falls just short of being a great book. I would rate it a "9" if Amazon had a ten-point rating system. Evans concentrates on the period between the elevation of Hitler to the chancellorship and the German invasion of Poland in 1939. Evans uses what might be called the "mosiac" method. He examines most of the essential features in which Nazism attempted to regulate and direct the lives of the German people, and does so in succcessive chapters. This is an interesting approach -- rather unusual for contemporary history --, and is reminiscent of that taken in, say, Cambridge's Ancient History and Medieval History series. No "grant theses" emerge, but several themes suggest themselves.

First, Evans demonstrates that the German people were extremely ambivalent about the Nazi regime. On the one hand, most Germans genuinely idolized Hitler. On the other hand, they were deeply distrustful of his underlings, and of many things the government was doing to the economy and to national welfare. The picture that emerges is of a people disturbed by the quotidien aspects of Nazi rule -- censorship, police surveillance, low wage rates, labor restrictions, etc. -- but sufficiently sympathetic with the broader aims of the regime to make tolerance for the disagreeable aspects possible. The picture of the German people which emerges is rather unflattering: it was distrustful of the disorder occasioned by the regime's extreme anti-semitism, but disliked Jews and was more than happy to profit from their suppression. It was suspicious of militarism and the march toward war, but happy about the economic recovery rearmament enabled (as long was the eventual war was fought by somebody else).
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It would be difficult to add anything new to the many excellent reviews of "The Third Reich in Power" that are already posted here. But I must briefly echo the praises for this monumental work. It should be required reading for all conscientious citizens, and especially for all politicians, as a cautionary tale of how governments that operate without "checks and balances" can destroy the very societies that put them in power.

The detailed story of how the Nazi leaders of the Third Reich transformed Germany between their assumption of power in 1933 and the outbreak of World War II in 1939 is compelling reading of the highest standard. During that period, the Nazis by decree imposed their political, economic and racial agendas on virtually every aspect of German society--literature, art, music, education, broadcasting, retail sales, land ownership, architecture, banking, recreation, law enforcement, etc. The Nazi's programs affected the everyday lives of EVERY German citizen to a greater or lesser degree.

Mr. Evans' readable, matter-of-fact style, and his reliance on supporting data and statistics from the historical record, make "The Third Reich in Power" perhaps the most valuable work yet written on the subject. While its 700+ pages may at first seem daunting, it is well worth the effort to read. You will definitely come away from the experience with a better understanding of how prejudice, inflexibility, demagoguery and unrestrained nationalism inexorably led to World War II, and of the threat that such attitudes continue to pose to the world today. I give it the highest possible recommendation.
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