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This is a horrifying and depressing story, but an important one. Richard Evans is a careful historian, not given to hyperbole and dramatic flourishes, and Sean Pratt matches his tone with a comfortable pace and even tone. Yet in its methodical way, the book lays out a gripping tale.
One point Evans makes is that the Nazis did NOT come to power democratically; they never won more than about 38% of the popular vote. Their victory was a result of PR, brutal street violence, and "backstairs intrigue," with their participation in the electoral process mostly for show. Once in, they proceeded to infiltrate and dominate every aspect of German society, down to the smallest blue-collar singing club in the smallest rural village. Everything was made to point in the same direction in a massive program of "coordination."
One of the most depressing aspects of this whole dismal saga, to me, is the way the Nazis were able to take over German culture, science, and higher education. Jewish musicians were fired; "non-Aryan" physicists and biologists were forced out of the universities and out of the country, to the great impoverishment of German science; philosophy was dominated by Martin Heidegger, who fully embraced the Nazi program. Gung-ho college students tore through bookshops and libraries, seizing "anti-German" material and throwing it onto a bonfire.
The book stops in the spring of 1933, just after the Nazi revolution and before the brown shirts were decimated in the "Night of the Long Knives." The second volume in the trilogy, "The Third Reich in Power," is available on Audible with the same narrator. (I'm going to wait a few weeks before I tackle that one: I need some time to recover from the first volume.)
85 of 86 people found this review helpful
I am not the target audience for this book. Evans says, in the preface, that his target are those who know little or nothing of this period and I have been reading about the lead-up to World War II for most of my adult life starting with Shirer's The Rise And Fall of the Third Reich (a book Evans does not think much of).
I had not expected to learn very much new, but found how wrong I was about that. The first 1/3 of the book involves the period from the start of the Bismarck period through the end of World War I and does not involve any of the familiar names (Hitler, Goering, Gobbles, Hess, Himmler, etc). It does give the background that provided the fertile ground that allowed the Nazi movement to find purchase. In doing so the author shows that the Nazi beliefs in anti-Semitism, anti-Marxism, anti-socialism, their disdain for democracy, their belief in pan-Germanism and their desire to find extra living space in the East were not new to German culture or beliefs, but had been around for a long time. And this foundation does much to explain the speed with which the Nazi movement gained ground and grew. The remainder of this volume deals with the Nazis themselves, their allies, their opponents, their climb to power and the individuals involved.
I have only two complaints about this book. The first concerns the author's decision to make no moral judgments about the morality of the Nazi actions. While I understand the desire to create a history that deals with facts rather than emotions, this decision seems to me to often ignore how basically evil the events being described were. The second complaint is with the uninspired reading by Sean Pratt. Most of the reading is monotone and, even more annoying, his reading contains pauses in the middle of sentences which have no contextual meaning and serve only to break-up the logical flow of thought.
But these are minor concerns. I am waiting for Audible to add the next volume of this history.
78 of 81 people found this review helpful
The book is a very thorough introduction to the history of Germany during the period leading up to the Nazi rule. It's the first of three volumes and itself is divided into three separate audio files. It's well arranged into general themes and dips back into the Bismarkian period as well as across Germany's borders into Austria, to give a comprehensive treament of the lead up to the Third Reich.
The reading is poor. The reader's American accent is not the problem - it's quite mellow. But he seems unfamiliar with even normal American English pronounciations - dockers steal goods from the "kwayside" (quayside) , and people are "booeyed up" (bouyed).
The real frustration is that he seems to be reading the book for the first time without any understanding of what he's reading. He reads it line -
by line -
with meaningless pauses as he gets to the end of each line. Most of the time this is a mild but constant irritation. At some points though, he confuses or distorts the meaning of what was written. We hear that soldiers "returning from the front sometimes disarmed
- then arrested workers"
Or about a "collapse of the Reich
- created by Bismark" ( of course it was the Reich that was created by Bismark but sounds as if Bismark created the collapse!)
This leaves the hearer frequently wondering what was meant by the last sentence. Sometimes the pause is a valid one but the he fails to give it the proper intonation so that it sounds like another arbitrary one. So we hear that the "collapse of the Wilhemina Reich was their chance to -
and they seized it" ( he means "too" but pronounces it as if he is about to tell us what it was that they had a chance to do).
The subject of the book is not light and there is a lot of complex information to understand. The reader should be helping with that understanding conveying meaning in his voice. Unfortunately this reader does not appear to understand what he is reading and hinders that understanding as a result.
15 of 16 people found this review helpful
Would you consider the audio edition of The Coming of the Third Reich to be better than the print version?
If I had time to read I would but using the audio version I can listen in the car.
What didn’t you like about Sean Pratt’s performance?
Read as though he hadn't seen the words before. Some inappropriate pauses and weird pronunciations. Quay pronounced to rhyme with way instead of like key.
Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
I was surprised by the background and it helped me understand how and why Germany fell into this trap in 1933.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
the narration was so so. could have been better in places. emphasis not always right.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Extremely good information, very comprehensive. The only difficulty I had was that the author skipped around a lot chronologically when examining different aspects of the development. it's probably a hard thing to avoid doing while making such a detailed history so maybe it can't be done any other way. It just made it hard to keep track of what he was talking about in relation to everything else that was going on when you were in the 1930s and then a slight change of subject and suddenly we were back at the start of the 20's again. Other than that a great book. highly recommend it.