on 29 January 2002
Burleigh's history of the Third Reich carefully avoids the blow-by-blow immediacy of other classic histories such as Shirer's "Rise and Fall of the Third Reich". Instead, he concerns himself with the psychological landscape of the Reich; the conceits and lies that led a a nation and a continent to the brink of destruction.
Readers who are looking for the whys and wherefores of defeats on the battlefield will not find them here - this is not a simple military history. Readers who are looking for moral insight into why regimes as evil as the Third Reich can develop and thrive will be richly rewarded by a masterful portrait of an evil state.
Never has Arendt's "banality of evil" been better illustrated than in this remarkable book.
A chilling warning of the horrors that complacency, apathy and uncritical acceptance of our political leaders can bring about. A masterpiece.
on 7 November 2009
I found this book to be a thoroughly compelling read, a superb exposition of the Third Reich. This is by no means an easy read, in terms of length, subject matter and the author's pretentious use of language. I was left in no doubt of the horrors of the Third Reich, not only with the Holocaust, but of the eugenics and euthanasia programmes too. Along with the harrowing account of the Holocaust, subjects include the decline of the Weimar Republic - hated by both left and right wing groups, its massive unemployment and inflation problems - collaboration in Europe, the token resistance to Hitler within Germany, and an account of Nazism's turning Germany in to a police, totalitarian state. This is presented as a "New History", and in some way it is, for me at any rate. In discussing the Holocaust, I was previously unaware of Romania's participation in exterminating the Jews, and the horrors on the Eastern Front - the atrocities committed by the SS, Einsatzgruppen, along with Ukrainian partisans and the Soviet Union come to mind. Although people tend to focus on the evils of the Third Reich, it is important to remember that Stalin was as much a murderer as Hitler. Sadly, a common thread through all this is anti-semitism, even among victims of Nazi aggression.
The book's greatest asset, which makes it stand out, is the constant use of primary sources - accounts of Holocaust survivors, children who had escaped "euthanasia", Jewish victims of the Kristallnacht or general persecution. True to form for the historian's role as an impartial observer, Burleigh also includes accounts of their oppressors, not only hard-core Nazis but also those who joined the Nazi party, SS or other organisations, and were not necessarily card-carrying Nazis.
The reason why this does not get five stars is due to Burleigh's constant use of non-everyday language - I felt this often led to too long sentences, ambiguities in meaning and a sense of "waywardness". I spent half my time, whilst reading the introduction, trying to work out what he was trying to say - complete with a dictionary. The lack of discussion of foreign policy is also a disappointing omission. The Anschluss with Austria and the occupation of the Sudetenland get a brief mention, but I would have liked a chapter on Hitler's foreign policy. After all, foreign policy and the use of force to achieve his aims, was one of Hitler's main preoccupations, so I felt this let the book down a bit.
In conclusion, a recommended read.
on 20 June 2007
This brick of a book is truly excellent. The detail is superb & the writing is of the highest quality. Burleigh offers a fresh perspective on an extremely well documented period of history.
I found this book engrossing & difficult to put down.Charting the rise of Nazism & the decisions & dogma which shaped Nazi policies, this book is surely a must for those with an interest in the subject.
It is obvious why this book has won the plaudits it has. The section on the invasion of Russia is particularly well done, although the whole book is of the highest quality. A work of immense proportions.
on 29 October 2000
It's most disappointing to read comments from readers, which misrepresent the work under review. Michael Burleighs extraordinary The Third Reich: A New History is the most subtle, sensitive and authoritative book I have yet read on this most difficult subject. Obviously a distillation of years of intense reflection, reading and research it is hard to imagine a future scholarly work that will match the skill with which Burleigh engages the reader so successfully in the moral and ethical dimensions of this terrible story. Driven by a sensibility that pours scorn on simplistic 'political' judgements, Burleigh attempts to confront the difficulty of understanding the Nazi system from a perspective (and style) which means that this brilliant work is not for those that seek easy answers. In this sense, The Third Reich is a work that announces a challenge to the simply historical or political.
on 16 February 2004
Although it is not an easily readable book, for the general public, if you have a serious interest about the history of the third Reich, make no mistake: you will not be able to overlook this book, which will surely be a classic. It is a thoroughly well researched contribution about the connection between religious beliefs and mass fanaticism; the interaction between the "new" domestic and international values, based on aggression; and the other causes involved in the rise (and fall) of the III Reich. From a different perspective from other mainstream historians, this winner of the Samuel Johnson prize for non fiction, has accomplished quite an original scholarly feat, one which will enlighten the comprehension of this particular period of history. No wonder many international critics have found the subtitle of this opus -A new History- particularly well deserved. Of great interest is the chapter related with the demise of the rule of law, a thorough analysis of the penetration of the judiciary and the subordination of the police and government to the totalitarian Fuhrerprinzip.
on 5 November 2000
Unlike many books on modern history, The Third Reich: A New History is informed by imaginative literature, philosophy and theology as well as merely by the facts. It contains a wealth of subtle insights and new perspectives, and fully deserves the reputation it has gained in Britain and elsewhere as a modern classic.
on 3 November 2000
Michael Burleigh's book is the most impressive attempt I have ever read by an historian to grapple with tough questions regarding the very possibility of challenging democratic political culture. It refocuses our attention on what may be termed 'the fragility of decency' and coolly assesses the dangers inherent in its rejection. Those who would attack the rule of law from a perspective which does not begin from a certain respect for the achievement expressed by law's very fragility are a danger to us all, he contends. Thus, Burleigh describes attacks from left and right, coupled with the personal and theoretical weaknesses of those whose principle concern ought to have been the defence of a necessarily flawed and imperfect legal and political culture, as largely responsible for the National Socialist descent into barbarism. To see the latter movement as a political religion, therefore, is to see it as an attempt to resolve the inadequacies of human imperfection in the name of some surer truth, a nihilism which remains a danger today.
on 3 September 2003
Being German and with my Grandfather having fought in the war (who is one of the most gentles soles I have ever met) I developed a huge appetite to establish as to how one organisation, the Nazis, could turn a nation into killers.
Having read numerous books on the topic each of these took a particular area and “fleshed out the facts on a time line” leaving me to piece together the human elements to try and establish the “bigger picture”, however it always left holes.
And then I read “A new history”. Unlike all other books, this takes a key area, be it the rise to power, be it the holocaust and the de-sensitisation of the population, be it operation Barbarossa, etc. and reviews these form a social, political and military (and more) view points, and at times from 1922 till the end of the third Reich. I can but only express my complete and utter awe (and I am a very critical guy) at this piece of work. Well done Mr. Burleigh!
If you are interested the history of the Third Reich... get it!!!
on 9 May 2014
I have no idea what process is used to convert books into digital formats, however, it is clear that in this case there was absolutely no proof reading undertaken of the finished digital version. There are so many formatting errors e.g. Tithuania, instead of Lithuania and hyphens appearing at random, that reading the book became a challenge. I don't believe that a lower digital price should mean lower quality in the end product.