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on 8 August 2017
Good story. Good present
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on 29 March 2017
For me the most interesting years of the Nazi rule have always been the ones least covered. We have a pretty good idea in general terms how the Second World War progressed, but how exactly the Nazis ruled Germany during the preceding half-dozen years is less well known. Yet it is precisely this period that, at least in embryonic terms, gives us some idea of what Germany would have looked like if they had actually won the war.

In general, the question Evans addresses is: Could Nazism have worked without wars of conquest? To this he gives an emphatic No! The title, after all, is not "The Third Reich at Peace", it is "The Third Reich in Power". The purpose of his book is to show how the whole thrust of the Nazi movement from the moment it came to power was to ready the nation, and that these years should be understood as nothing other than a period of feverish preparation for war. This train had no other destination. The fabled economic recovery after 1933 was entirely based on plans for conquest.

The overarching idea that ties all these chapters together – each of which could easily be expanded into its own book – is that from the beginning, Hitler was planning his aggression. The exact date for its outbreak may have been uncertain (though definitely not as early as 1939) but war itself was inevitable. In retrospect this seems so clear that one wonders how Paris and London were able to remain oblivious for as long as they did. It is yet another reminder that the hardest thing about interpreting the past is always keeping in mind that even well-informed people lacked clairvoyance about what was for them still in the future.

I cannot do better than the author's own summary: "The story of the Third Reich from 1933 to 1939 was not a story of ceaseless radicalization driven on by inherent instabilities in its system of rule, or by a constant competition for power between its satraps and minions, in which the most radical policy was always the most likely to be implemented. Irrational and unstable though it was, the Third Reich was driven in the first place from above, by Hitler and his key henchmen….This does not mean that everything that happened in the Third Reich was ordained by Hitler; but it does mean that he was in the driving-seat, determining the general direction in which things moved." (pg. 712)

This argument is set forth in convincing detail over the preceding chapters, covering "The Police State", "Mobilization of the Spirit", "Converting the Soul" and so on. The result is a compendium organized topically, not chronologically, which gives it more the flavor of a reference work than a narrative. The chapters stand pretty much alone, like silos. Each could easily be turned into a book-length study of its own.

The book can, of course, be read cover to cover, but my sense is that few will find the time or patience for that task. In the Preface, Evans is realistic enough to address those who will use it "simply as a work of reference" (pg. xvii) and helpfully points them to the index. "The Third Reich in Power" is something readers will dip into and consult about particular topics of interest to them – where they will indeed find a completely satisfactory overview of the current research.
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on 2 January 2017
In the preface to the first volume of his Third Reich trilogy, Evans quotes professional historians' views that Shirer's Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, is, as implied by the title, "unbelievably crude". In contrast, he states here in the preface to this second volume that his treatment of the Third Reich in the years 1933-39 will be "necessarily thematic". I can't help feeling that there is a happy medium. In the first and third volumes, the themes were determined by events and so there is a narrative drive, but the eschewal of narrative in this volume makes it difficult to discern how the themes relate to each other. It is not until the last chapter, The Road to War, that narrative crudity appears, and the book is all the better for that.
I was also frustrated by the lack of discursive analysis, which I assume is deliberate, with Evans preferring to let events speak for themselves. For instance, he states that Nazism was not a religion, and quotes a speech to this effect made by Hitler in order, says Evans, to distance himself from the woolly-minded mysticism espoused by the likes of Himmler. But merely quoting Hitler doesn't close the argument. Why did Hitler feel it necessary to make the point? Was he placating the churches? Does the fact that Hitler said it make it true? I would have liked to have heard Evans's no doubt trenchant views on this and other matters.
It is probably unfair to criticise Evans for not writing the book he could have written had he wanted to, and so anyone reading this review may if they wish mentally add a fifth star. There can be no argument with the consensus that is a magisterial account. In his brilliant "In Defence of History" Evans writes that no sane person is capable of reading most history books through from beginning to end. He could write this secure in the knowledge that his own books are evidence that he is one of the few historians who can be eminently readable without being "crude".
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on 5 August 2007
This is a superb book and a fine companion piece to RJ Evans first work in this trio. It is an once utterly engaging and terrifying when one sees the true callous nature of those in power.
It's true genius is the narrative flow and the clarity brought to the governance of a nation once revered for it's poets and thinkers.
I eagerly await the final book, The Third Reich At War.
Evans is brilliant.
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on 4 November 2009
I've been reading about the Third Reich for many years, on and off, and this is one of the most authoritative and well-written accounts of the middle to late Thirties in Nazi Germany I've come across.
Evans manages to pack each page with daily detail of the lives of the people, the shenanigans of Party members, the sheer dirty dealing and downhanded nastiness of the regime and still manages to make it entirely readable. He is to be congratulated on his writing style, for he makes it easy to read and digest such detail without putting the book down out of sheer boredom or falling asleep, unlike so many other historical writers.
I look forward to the third volume in the series.
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on 14 May 2007
I am an A-level student who just took the exam for the 'Life in Hitler's Germany 1933-1939' module. When I bought this book I was looking for an authorative, interesting and accessible text. I found it.

Firstly, there is no need to worry if you hadn't read the companion book 'The Comming of the Third Reich' as what you need to know is nicely summed up in a prologue. 'The Third Reich In Power' manages to cover the social aspects of the Third Reich, and along the way gives an idea of the political structure of the Nazi reigme. There is a intensely satisfying attention to detail in Evans' book which clarifies a lot of things which you may not realise you don't know the actual specifics of. The level of analysis is very high, which is both objective and offers the author's personal conclusions. The level of research comes through with the sheer amount of sources/maps included, as well as relevant figures and satistics. This may alienate some more casual readers but I found you can take or skip-over detail acording to need/interest.

What is perhaps most enjoyable about this book is the fact that alongide the conventional important facts are also stimulating sections that I didn't expect, these include looks at the indvidual lives on people under the Third Reich that reveals a lot about the time and even a section looking at the kind of dreams and nightmares the German people had during Nazi rule. These sections are much more relevant than they sound, and it was refreshing and engaging to find them here.

At the begining I called this text accessible, and it is, but remember this is not a revision guide. It will take time to read it becuase it is quite long and, if you are reading it with the view to pass an exam like I was, there will be a huge amount of information that is not strictly relevant to your specification. I did find, however, the comprehensive look this book offered helped me truly understand what I did need to know and I often included interesting points raised by the book in essays. The only criticism that can be made of the book is that perhaps the sections are not given clear enough titles,therefore quick reference is difficult.
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on 16 April 2011
This is the second of Evans' trilogy about the Third Reich and I couldn't put it down. The first book was also sensational, and I'm summoning up the courage to read the third book - I use the word 'courage' not because the books are difficult to read - they are beautifully written - but because the story they tell is so terrible. Incidentally, I read ALONE IN BERLIN by Hans Fallada straight afterwards - it's a novel set during the time that this book covers, and it made a brilliant companion piece. I would recommend both heartily.
Alone in Berlin (Penguin Modern Classics)
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on 14 May 2007
I am an A-level student currently studying the 'Life in Hitler's Germany 1933-1939' module. My teacher is not the best in the world and so when I bought this book I was looking for an authorative, interesting and accessible text. I found it.

Firstly, there is no need to worry if you hadn't read the companion book 'The Comming of the Third Reich' as what you need to know is nicely summed up in a prologue. 'The Third Reich In Power' manages to cover the social aspects of the Third Reich, and along the way gives an idea of the political structure of the Nazi reigme. There is a intensely satisfying attention to detail in Evans' book which clarifies a lot of things which you may not realise you don't know the actual specifics of. The level of analysis is very high, which is both objective and offers the author's personal conclusions. The level of research comes through with the sheer amount of sources/maps included, as well as relevant figures and satistics. This may alienate some more casual readers but I found you can take or skip-over detail acording to need/interest.

What is perhaps most enjoyable about this book is the fact that alongide the conventional important facts are also stimulating sections that I didn't expect, these include looks at the indvidual lives on people under the Third Reich that reveals a lot about the time and even a section looking at the kind of dreams and nightmares the German people had during Nazi rule. These sections are much more relevant than they sound, and it was refreshing and engaging to find them here.

At the begining I called this text accessible, and it is, but remember this is not a revision guide. It will take time to read it becuase it is quite long and, if you are reading it with the view to pass an exam like I was, there will be a huge amount of information that is not strictly relevant to your specification. I did find, however, the comprehensive look this book offered helped me truly understand what I did need to know and I often included interesting points raised by the book in essays. The only criticism that can be made of the book is that perhaps the sections are not given clear enough titles,therefore quick reference is difficult.
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on 17 February 2006
The second volume of this trilogy fully maintains the excellent standard of the first. It covers the period from when the Nazis came to power in 1933 to the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939.
While all the familiar foreign policy developments are there, the book's real focus is on life for the German people during the period. This covers, in a very comprehensive way, all levels, schools, the arts, leisure, work etc, and those the Nazis saw as enemies or dispensable. It is of course grim in many places. The author lets facts speak for themselves and writes in a very clear style aimed at the general reader rather than the specialist.
The final volume will cover the remainder of the era of the Third Reich till Germany (along with much of Europe around it) lay in ruins in 1945 and will, I am sure, be grimmer still.
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on 25 November 2014
As Evans himself points out at the beginning of this series of three books, published material on the Third Reign runs into the tens of thousands, more than even a professional historian can expect to master in a lifetime. Evans's trilogy, coming from a specialist in the field, is probably the most complete one can expect to find in a single book or set of books. The second volume runs from the Nazi takeover of power in 1933 to the very eve of WWII, and I found it somewhat superior to the first. This is an exhaustive survey of the Reich in peace time, or rather in its preparation phase to long-planned hostilities. Social, economic, cultural, and political issues are all covered in great detail. The student should go no further, or rather should begin here and move on to the extensive bibliography. This is the product of many years of teaching and research activity, and it shows.

At the same time, a few minor weaknesses are in my view worth raising. The practice of translating everything from German, even familiar terms and expressions such as Heil Hitler! is sometimes odd. Evans has the Völkischer Beobachter as the racial rather than the popular observer, which doesn't sound right. More substantially, I found that the chapter on economics lacks clarity. Evans, in a laudable effort not to grant the Nazis anything, dismisses their reduction of German unemployment, but actually by his own numbers, even allowing for obfuscation and forced enlistment and labour, one is bound to conclude that their policies did reduce unemployment substantially. Overall, finally, Evans rarely is concise, though that is hardly blameable considering the mass of his material. At the same time, 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.
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