I just completed reading a masterpiece! This is not just an ordinary masterpiece, but an 1143 page masterpiece. This took me a great deal of time to complete. Yes, it took time from my attempts to write myself. Was it worth the time? Absolutely.
Anyone trying to write a modern day thriller should read this fine work. It includes themes present in many if not all thrillers written today, including insane leaders, racial hatred, fanaticism, military strategy, use of power, the role of propaganda, national pride, and the horrors of modern warfare. I would submit there are a huge number of thrillers that are based either consciously or unconsciously on the collective experience of World War II. If anyone asked “How the hell could this ever happen?” this book will explain it to you. Ideas and themes for thrillers abound here.
You even get a feel for some of the major characters. Many of the evil villains in some modern day thrillers are probably based on characters discussed by Shirer. He is writing history, and the nature of the characters he discussed shines through in his writing. Granted, he had very evil material to work with, but a reader will feel he knows some of the characters in this saga. A great example of this would be the character of Hermann Goering. Shirer seems to take particular pleasure in describing Goering as “corpulent” many times in his work as he discusses this despicable character with all his complexities and quirks. My guess is that Goering is the model for many “corpulent” villains in today’s books and movies.
The version I read was the 30th Anniversary Edition of “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich” by William L. Shirer, published in 1990. Apparently Shirer was criticized because he was not an historian, but I am glad he persisted and completed this profound work. I am proud to say I read all 1143 pages of text, and learned a great deal about this incredible era. To the best of my knowledge, nothing he wrote was debunked or proven false, which is a credit to his meticulous researching and fact-checking when confronted with contradictory statements by those whose documents he used as sources and personal interviews with many on both sides of the conflict. In addition, the book is eminently readable. Mr. Shirer knew how to write, and how to do monumental research. The fact that this book was written well before the birth of the internet only adds to its impressiveness.
I purchased this book in almost mint condition from a used book sale at a nearby library for $1.00. It may have been the best $1.00 I ever spent. Please support your local library!