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About the Author

William Lawrence Shirer (February 23, 1904 - December 28, 1993) was an American journalist, war correspondent, and historian, who wrote The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, a history of Nazi Germany that has been read by many and cited in scholarly works for more than 50 years. Shirer was born in show more Chicago and graduated from Coe. Originally a foreign correspondent for the Chicago Tribune and the International News Service, Shirer was the first reporter hired by Edward R. Murrow for what would become a CBS radio team of journalists, and he became known for his broadcasts from Berlin, from the rise of the Nazi dictatorship through the first year of World War II (1940). With Murrow, he organized the first broadcast world news roundup, a format still followed by news broadcasts. Shirer wrote more than a dozen books including Berlin Diary (published in 1941); The Collapse of the Third Republic (1969) and a three-volume autobiography, Twentieth Century Journey (1976 to 1990). Shirer received a 1946 Peabody Award for Outstanding Reporting and Interpretation of News for his work at CBS. His book, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, won the 1961 National Book Award for Nonfiction and Carey-Thomas Award for non-fiction. (Bowker Author Biography) show less
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Works by William L. Shirer

The Sinking of the Bismarck (1962) 362 copies
Gandhi (1979) 260 copies
End of a Berlin diary (1947) — Author — 146 copies
Midcentury Journey (1952) 97 copies
The Traitor (1950) 20 copies
Stranger Come Home (1954) 9 copies
An August to Remember. (1986) 2 copies

Associated Works

The Assassin's Cloak: An Anthology of the World's Greatest Diarists (2000) — Contributor, some editions — 544 copies
Kind dieser Zeit (1932) — Afterword — 35 copies
I mondi del possibile (1993) — Contributor, some editions — 7 copies


20th century (195) 20th century history (48) anthology (70) autobiography (63) Berlin (75) biography (248) diary (192) ebook (42) Europe (136) European History (221) fascism (63) France (95) French history (54) German (45) German History (291) Germany (778) history (2,276) Hitler (322) Holocaust (208) journalism (119) Kindle (81) Landmark (56) memoir (206) military (87) military history (142) Nazi (160) Nazi Germany (185) Nazis (147) Nazism (232) non-fiction (790) own (45) politics (113) read (74) Third Reich (213) to-read (627) unread (52) war (168) world history (84) World War II History (52) WWII (1,899)

Common Knowledge

Canonical name
Shirer, William L.
Legal name
Shirer, William Lawrence
Date of death
Burial location
Mountain View Cemetery, Lenox, Massachusetts, USA
Country (for map)
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Place of death
Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Places of residence
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Berlin, Germany
Paris, France
Coe College (BA|1925)
Murrow, Edward R. (colleague)
Lewis, Sinclair (friend)
CBS Radio
Chicago Tribune
Universal News Service
Awards and honors
Peabody Award (1946)
National Book Award (1961)
Carey-Thomas Award (1961)
Paul R. Reynolds
Short biography
William L. Shirer achieved fame as a foreign correspondent in Europe and Germany in particular during the years leading up to World War II, and again as the author of the award-winning 1960 book The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.



FS Editions of Shirer's Rise & Fall of Third Reich in Folio Society Devotees (August 25)


This book was a marathon of a read but it was so well-researched and a really informative read.
Moshepit20 | 88 other reviews | Nov 2, 2023 |
Unlike most histories, this cuts off halfway through the war, and was published in 1941 when the outcome was still undetermined. Winston Churchill and Shirer himself come out as fairly prescient prophets of doom, and there doesn't seem to have been much retrospective tweaking, just some commentary from 1941. (Later I discovered Shirer rewrote or created most of the 1934–1938 content years later, and toned down his naive admiration of Hitler c. 1935 with the benefit of hindsight.) What's notable is the feeling of being at the centre of a widening gyre, the speed with which events unfolded, the cowardly choices made by many of the politicians, and the complacency and passivity of the German people as this unfolds around them. Of course we can't help but compare this to Putin's machinations and invasions in the present day, and the similarly cowardly choices being made. One also has to imagine oneself in the thick of this, and how you yourself would act as society slowly fell apart—one would hope to be as principled as Shirer, who stuck it out attempting to broadcast what was really going on to Americans despite heavy censorship, until he recognised when the compromises were too great and packed it in, only narrowly escaping to the US.

Notes: a sense at the beginning that Hitler might back down, and we could be reading a counterfactual alternative history of Europe—but sadly no • Shirer predicts Constantine Oumansky, Soviet ambassador to the US, will come to a sticky end: "I have known many Soviet diplomats, but they have all been liquidated sooner or later." Oumansky in fact became ambassador to Mexico, and was killed in a plane crash in 1945. • Appearances by the delightfully-named isolationist Representative Ham Fish (actually Hamilton Stuyvesant Fish III) • references to the World War (meaning WWI), and one mention that this will be a "second World War" • Repeating the myth that a division of Polish cavalry made a fruitless charge against hundreds of German tanks—the Charge at Krojanty, well debunked now • encountering Phillip Johnson, an American fascist—the same Phillip Johnson who became a well-respected architect after the war, and disavowed all his silly Hitler fanboy activities (but I bet he'd have been happy to become America's Albert Speer if Hitler had won) • The Führer's favourite movies were It Happened One Night, and Gone With The Wind • watching the rise of radio journalism, and its struggle to be taken seriously by other media, rather like the Internet in its early days • Shirer escaping via unoccupied France, Barcelona, and Lisbon—just like the opening to Casablanca.
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adzebill | 17 other reviews | Oct 31, 2023 |
This is an amazing account of the Third Reich. I cheered when Hitler finally shot himself and ended the the disgusting Third Reich. I'm still stunned that anyone like him could actually take over a western state.
CMDoherty | 88 other reviews | Oct 3, 2023 |
William L. Shirer's classic examination of the Nazi era from its roots in the end of World War I to its (governmental) demise at the end of World War II is simply one of the great works of history. Built both on Shirer's own experiences as a reporter and eyewitness to Hitler's regime and upon the captured documents of the German government, Shirer depicts, brick by brick, how the edifice of Nazism was built and how, ultimately, it collapsed, largely under the weight of Adolf Hitler's hubris. Though I have been a fascinated student of the Second World War and its triggering factors, never before have I felt so completely clear about the progression of events and the force of individual personalities in the creation of the most horrific period of European history. Anyone who is interested in how a nation rose to power while losing its soul, or in how it might so easily happen again, would be well advised to start, or augment, their education with this masterful work.… (more)
jumblejim | 88 other reviews | Aug 26, 2023 |



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Associated Authors

Jeff Terreson Cover artist
Claude Yelnick Translator
John Keegan Introduction
Inga Shirer Dean Contributor
Jürgen Schebera Translator


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