The Coming of the Third Reich: How the Nazis Destroyed Democracy and Seized Power in Germany Paperback – 5 Aug 2004
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"Richard J. Evans's "The Coming of the Third Reich"...gives the clearest and most gripping account I've read of German life before aznd during the rise of the Nazis."--A. S Byatt, in the "Times Literary Supplement""Richard J. Evans's "The Coming of the Third Reich" is an enormous work of synthesis--knowledgable and reliable..."--Mark Mazower in the "New York Times Book Review""[A] first-rate narrative history that informs and educates and may inspire readers to delve even deeper into the subject."--"Booklist"."..Brilliant..."-"Washington Post""The generalist reader, it should be emphasized, is well served. ...The book reads briskly, covers all important areas--social and cultural--and succeeds in its aim of giving "voice to the people who lived through the years with which it deals."--"Denver Post ""One finally puts down this magnificent volume thirsty, on the one hand, for the next installment in the Nazi saga yet still haunted by the questions Evan poses and so masterfully grapples with."â Abraham Brumberg, "The Nation""This first part of what will be Evans' three-volume history of Hitler's regime is the most comprehensive and convincing work so far on the gall of Weimar and Hitler's rise to power."â "Foreign Affairs"
About the Author
Richard J Evans is Professor of Modern History at Cambridge University. His previous books include In Defence of History and Telling Lies About Hitler. He lives outside Cambridge.
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The book is readable, organised into an accessible format and provides significant detail around the years leading up to 1933. It also summarises briefly the first world war and how this feed into the desire for a strong man to lead Germany into a stronger economy.
I'd recommend this to anyone such as myself who wants to get an overview of the themes that lead to the Nazis existence and rise to power. I'd also recommend it more generally as a warning not to get too complacent around the defence of our democracy or free speech as many of the themes touched on by the book are recognisable from the media of today.
The issue with The Coming of the Third Reich, indeed, is that it is neither a history of the Weimar Republic nor a survey of the Reich's origins, but something between the two. As a result, the book has too much of an air of inevitability to it - even if Evans warns against that once in a while. The Weimar regime simply looks doomed from the start: perhaps a fair conclusion, but one that looks too obvious in a book that is explicitly about its Nazi successor. The set of chapters about German history and Nazism at the beginning are likewise awkward. A history of Nazism's ideological antecedents would have worked better, or alternatively a simple, and more neutral, survey of historical works on the question. This volume, finally, overlaps with the next in its account of the Nazi seizure of power from Hitler's appointment as chancellor. The material isn't exactly the same, but the story is, making the whole account repetitive from one book to the next. Overall, finally, I would still recommend the classic account that is Shirer's Rise and Fall of the Third Reich to the general reader. Yes, it is far less complete than Evans's trilogy and it focuses more narrowly on political history, but for sheer narrative verve, it remains the book to read - or perhaps a combination of Shirer and Evans's second volume, which covers the typically less well known aspects of Nazism.
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