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The years from 1904 to 1930.
Shirer's life and times from 1930 to 1940
A radio broadcaster and journalist for Edward R. Murrow at CBS, William Shirer was new to the world of broadcast journalism when he began keeping a diary while in Europe during the 1930s. It was in 1940, still a virtual unknown, that Shirer wondered whether his reminiscences of the collapse of the world around Nazi Germany could be of any interest or value as a book. Shirer's Berlin Diary, which is considered the first full record of what was happening in Germany during the rise of the Third Reich, first appeared in 1941. The book was an instant success. But how did Shirer get such a valuable firsthand account? He had anonymous sources willing to speak with him, provided their identity remained protected and disguised so as to avoid retaliation from the Gestapo. Shirer recorded his and others' eyewitness views to the horror that Hitler was inflicting on his people in his effort to conquer Europe. Shirer continued his job as a foreign correspondent and radio reporter for CBS until Nazi press censors made it virtually impossible for him to do his job with any real accuracy. He left Europe, taking with him the invaluable, unforgettable (and horrific) contents of his Berlin Diary. Berlin Diary brings the reader as close as any reporter has ever been to Hitler and the rise of the Third Reich. Shirer's honest, lucid and passionate reporting of the brutality with which Hitler came to power and the immediate reactions of those who witnessed these events is for all time. ABOUT THE AUTHOR William Shirer (1904-1993) was originally a foreign correspondent for the Chicago Tribune and was the first journalist hired by Edward R. Murrow for what would become a team of journalists for CBS radio. Shirer distinguished himself and quickly became known for his broadcasts from Berlin during the rise of the Nazi dictatorship through the first year of World War II. Shirer was the first of "Edward R. Murrow's Boys" - broadcast journalists - who provided news coverage during World War II and afterward. It was Shirer who broadcast the first uncensored eyewitness account of the annexation of Austria. Shirer is best known for his books The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich which won the National Book Award and Berlin Diary.
Shirer, the author of one of the definitive histories of early- and mid-20th century Germany, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, here turns his researcher's attentions to France during the same period. Political and military histories are combined.
"When I came home from Berlin at Christmas time in 1940, I found most of my fellow countrymen unaware of what Hitler was really up to and somewhat confused as to how he had accomplished his evil designs. Some Americans didn't much care. Since it had been my lot to witness Europe's agony at first hand, I collected some of my notes in a book for the edification of such citizens as cared to read it. This book of notes is, in a way, a sequel to Berlin Diary. It is the end of my own small contribution to the Berlin story. There was a great deal, of course, that a reporter had not been able to learn in the frenzied Nazi capital beyond the Elbe. The sinister plots, the fateful decisions, that had plunged the world into such awful horror and misery had been made in secret. And what had really gone on in Germany after I left? Had defeat and collapse solved the German problem -- at least for the rest of our lifetime ? After the war's end I went back to Berlin to try to find out. I prowled the obscene ruins of the once proud capital and talked with the remnants of the Herrenvolk. At Nuremberg, amidst the debris of the lovely medieval town, I saw the surviving leaders of the Nazi gangster world, who had wielded such monstrous power so arrogantly when last I beheld them, finally brought to justice. Most important of all, I had access to a good part of the fourteen hundred tons of secret German documents that the Allies had captured intact. You will find the essential portions of many of them in this book. I have been content to let the German authors tell in their own inimitable words the dark and almost unbelievable tale of their savagery and deceit. Had these secret archives of the German government been destroyed, as the Nazis intended them to be, much of the truth about our weird period in history would have been buried forever. Now it is here for those who care to learn it. I have also tried to include in this book the thread of another story -- the story of the beginning of the Peace. Reader, you and I have already forgotten the fleeting moment of glory and man's magnificent sense of dedication the day peace descended on this wretched earth. I know that erring mortals cannot remain on the heights for long. But these notes, scribbled down at the time, may help to remind you that many on our side achieved those heights after the war's bloody struggles had brought out their inhuman courage, their bravery, and their wonderful fortitude."
Recalling his friendship and conversations with the late Indian leader, William Shirer presents a portrait of Gandhi that spotlights his frailties as well as his accomplishments. As a young foreign correspondent, William Shirer reported briefly on Gandhi--but the year was 1931, when India's struggle for independence peaked and Gandhi scored perhaps his greatest political success. The year before, he had led a 200-mile march to the sea to pick up a lump of salt--a violation of the British salt tax; and this symbolic act (like--he reminds Shirer--the Boston Tea Party) had propelled the Indian masses into nonviolent civil disobedience on a large scale. To check its spread, Gandhi had been arbitrarily imprisoned. Now he was out of prison and negotiating with the British viceroy: if Gandhi would call off the civil-disobedience campaign and attend an upcoming London conference, the British would make concessions too. These, however, were so limited and vague that many Indian nationalists regarded Gandhi's agreement as a sell-out; but Shirer underlines history's judgment of its wisdom with Gandhi's own words. More importantly, he notes, the British had finally been forced "to deal with an Indian leader as an equal." Along these lines, Shirer also witnessed British discomfiture at Gandhi's arrival--complete with loin cloth, spinning wheel, and goat's milk; he saw the sensation Gandhi caused in London--and heard him address Lancashire millhands thrown out of work by the Indian boycott of British cotton. And he saw him at home, subsisting on four-hours' sleep and "frenzied acclaim." This book is sure to press upon readers the worldwide force of Gandhi's example.
Who was Adolf Hitler who rose from the gutter to conquer most of Europe? What madness led him to plunge the world into the bloodiest war in history? Here's the story from his birth to downfall.
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