Study Guide

The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich Tough-o-Meter

By William L. Shirer

Tough-o-Meter

Mount Everest (10)

We won't lie to you: The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich is an intimidating book to drag off the shelf. The problem isn't that Shirer's writing is dense or hard to understand, because actually, it's pretty zippy. The problem is that there's just so much of it.

So. Much.

Weighing in at roughly 1150 pages of journalistic and historical prose, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich is about as long as J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, and about as complex as The Silmarillion. This isn't the kind of book that you can polish off in an afternoon... or two... or four... or even twenty. Just like our trusty hobbit bros Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee, you've got to be in it for the long haul. It's a commitment.

But what's the reward? Unlike the stalwart Frodo and Sam, you won't put an end to the fearsome reign of an evil lord when you turn the final page of TRFTR. What you will do is gain new insight into the way that Hitler and his legacy were understood in the first decades after the Second World War.

Shirer's perspective is frank, no-holds-barred, and often provocative—sometimes you may even find it offensive. But we're willing to bet that The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich will get you thinking about WWII in ways that no encyclopedia pages ever could.