The Coming of the Third Reich

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Penguin, 2004 - History - 622 pages
7 Reviews
From one of the world's most distinguished historians, a magisterial new reckoning with Hitler's rise to power and the collapse of civilization in Nazi Germany.

In 1900 Germany was the most progressive and dynamic nation in Europe, the only country whose rapid technological and social growth and change challenged that of the United States. Its political culture was less authoritarian than Russia's and less anti-Semitic than France's; representative institutions were thriving, and competing political parties and elections were a central part of life. How then can we explain the fact that in little more than a generation this stable modern country would be in the hands of a violent, racist, extremist political movement that would lead it and all of Europe into utter moral, physical, and cultural ruin? There is no story in twentieth-century history more important to understand, and Richard Evans has written the definitive account for our time. A masterful synthesis of a vast body of scholarly work integrated with important new research and interpretations, Evans's history restores drama and contingency to the rise to power of Hitler and the Nazis, even as he shows how ready Germany was by the early 1930s for such a takeover to occur. With many people angry and embittered by military defeat and economic ruin; a state undermined by a civil service, an army, and a law enforcement system deeply alienated from the democratic order introduced in 1918; beset by the growing extremism of voters prey to panic about the increasing popularity of communism; home to a tiny but quite successful Jewish community subject to widespread suspicion and resentment, Germany proved to be fertile ground in which Nazism's ideology of hatred could take root.

The first book of what will ultimately be a complete three-volume history of Nazi Germany, The Coming of the Third Reichis a masterwork of the historian's art and the book by which all others on this subject will be judged.
 

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The Coming of the Third Reich

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Do we really need another history of the Third Reich? Evans (history, Cambridge Univ.; Lying About Hitler) answers that while studies of Nazism have proliferated, what is lacking is a narrative and ... Read full review

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There are thousands of books on the Nazis, so why read this or the other volumes from Richard Evans's trilogy? If you have had enough of history as 'one damn thing after another' and would prefer to read about how they seized power rather than see yet another catalogue of Nazis on the Discovery Channel this is the book for you. Particularly interesting is that the usual story of economic depression, the rise of the Nazi Party, and the gearing up of Germany towards expansive war against the East is shown to be far more complex than is usually the case. Evans is particularly interested in how the Nazis operated at both national and local level, manipulating people's fears and hopes for their own ends, taking over civil society like cuckoos in the nest, subverting groups as wide ranging as the Boy Scouts and the Germany equivalent of the WI, putting their own people in, bribing some and threatening others, even turning upon their own supporters when it suited their cause. Based upon archival records of political parties, church groups, letters and diaries of people across Germany and clearly aware of how our understanding of the Nazis has widened and deepened since the 1940s Evans demonstrates how the rise of the Nazis was far from inevitable. Yet he also demonstrates how when their opponents across the political spectrum consistently underestimated both their appeal and their deviousness a deeply conservative nation with a great liberal tradition was subject to a revolution that was to destroy millions across Europe and finally bring foreign armies to partition Germany for years to come. If you last studied the Nazis at school and its all become a bit of a blur, or if you feel there must be more to the Nazis than television's generals, battles and tanks, this book is for you. It certainly made me rethink something I thought I'd long since understood.  

Contents

The Legacy of the Past
19
THE WEAKNESSES OF WEIMAR
78
THE GREAT INFLATION
103
CULTURE WARS
118
THE FIT AND THE UNFIT
139
BOHEMIAN REVOLUTIONARIES r
156
THE BEERHALL PURTSCH
176
REBUILDING THE MOVEMENT
195
THE TERROR BEGINS
310
FIRE IN THE REICHSTAG 3 2 8
328
DEMOCRACY DESTROYED
350
BRINGING GERMANY INTO LINE
375
DISCORDANT NOTES
392
THE PURGE OF THE ARTS 45
405
AGAINST THE UNGERMAN SPIRIT
419
A REVOLTION OF DESTRUCTION?
441

THE ROOTS OF COMMITMENT
217
THE GREAT DEPRESSION
232
THE CRISIS OF DEMOCRACY
247
THE VICTORY OF VIOLENCE
266
FATEFUL DECISIONS
289
Notes
462
Bibliography
535
Index
585
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About the author (2004)

Richard J. Evans was educated at Oxford, has taught at Columbia and the University of London, and is currently the Professor of Modern History at Cambridge. His books include Death in Hamburg(winner of the Wolfson Literary Award for History), In Hitler's Shadow, Rituals of Retribution(winner of the Fraenkel Prize in Contemporary History), In Defense of History, and Lying About Hitler.

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