CBS radio broadcaster William L. Shirer was virtually unknown in 1940 when he decided there might be a book in the diary he had kept in Europe during the 1930s—specifically those sections dealing with the collapse of the European democracies and the rise of Nazi Germany.
Shirer was the only Western correspondent in Vienna on March 11, 1938, when the German troops marched in and took over Austria, and he alone reported the surrender by France to Germany on June 22, 1940, even before the Germans reported it. The whole time, Shirer kept a record of events, many of which could not be publicly reported because of censorship by the Germans. In December 1940, Shirer learned that the Germans were building a case against him for espionage, an offense punishable by death. Fortunately, Shirer escaped and was able to take most of his diary with him.
Berlin Diary first appeared in 1941, and the timing was perfect. The energy, the passion, and the electricity in it were palpable. The book was an instant success, and it became the frame of reference against which thoughtful Americans judged the rush of events in Europe. It exactly matched journalist to event: the right reporter in the right place at the right time. It stood, and still stands, as so few books have ever done, a pure act of journalistic witness.
Regular price: £25.79
Buy Now with 1 Credit
Buy Now for £25.79
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Mark on 23-11-11
Stunning and beautifully read
I had read bits of the book years ago but I had forgotten how compelling it was. Shirer's day-by-day picture of life under the Nazis is uncannily accurate with the hindsight of history. He wrote beautifully although his growing loathing of the Nazis makes the later parts of the book more tirade than report -- loathing the Nazis was, of course, justified but I wish Shirer had tried harder to understand why otherwise-rational Germans didn't share his hatred. He often resorts to sweeping stereotypes about "the German character" and he fails to pursue insights on the Nazi use of class resentment and modern media. Still, worth every minute of listening and the reading adds extra resonance to every sentence.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
By Ms on 15-11-13
What made the experience of listening to Berlin Diary the most enjoyable?
I had the book on my reading wish list, and when I saw it was available on audible I took a chance. It was wonderful, and as I do most of my listening on the bus to and from work, the 'bite sized' chunks that a diary affords, made it perfect for my commute.
What did you like best about this story?
Historically it is fascinating to hear what someone living in Berlin at the time thought - I had read that it didn't really address the issue of anti-semitism and genocide; but I felt that it did. Maybe not to the detail that we now know, but it was made clear that journalists were not being given all the information they required.
Have you listened to any of Tom Weiner’s other performances? How does this one compare?
I haven't listened to any of Tom Weiner's other performances but I most certainly will now.
Any additional comments?
I only wish that William Shriver had stayed longer in Berlin - although he of course didn't want to!
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Robert on 26-02-14
The Real Rise and Fall
If you found "Rise and Fall" to be a gripping book, as I did, then I think you will find "Berlin Diaries" to be a wonderful listen. Here you learn all the thoughts of a witness to an amazing place and time. Particularly striking is the insanity of what Shirer is and is not allowed to report. The world was turned upside-down and Shirer tells you about it as if you were having a drink at the press club. Wonderful insights into easy things that the British might have done better... for example, bombing doesn't need to be massive to be effective, Shirer explains that even small bombings during the night in Berlin have the effect of keeping everyone awake and dramatically affecting war production, not to mention jangling nerves. You see Shirer becoming more and more cynical as the war begins to go badly and his access to real news vs. propaganda is limited. The book leaves you wanting to learn a lot more about his wife Tess who seems like a very interesting character in her own right. Shirer explains so clearly successes of the Third Reich early in the war; you understand what it means to build a war machine, to consider all the technical details, to keep all your aircraft hidden a short distance from the airfields so that the bombing of an airfield produces limited damage. Shirer explains Hitler's misperception of British attitudes. I found the book truly fascinating.
11 of 11 people found this review helpful
By Jeffrey on 07-12-11
Unfolding of war in real time
This diary of William Shirer, published in 1941, provides an unfolding of Europe's plunge into war from 1934-1941 by an American reporter who recorded these events as they happened while he was there during this period. Shirer proved insightful as to what the Nazi's were up to as France and Britain failed to stand up to Hitler's string of demands for more of Europe's land. The narration is excellent as he reads Shirer's diary entries and you feel like you are back there in time listening to the events unfold as Shirer describes them.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful