Witnessing this cultural repression, along with having to listen to the propaganda speeches blaring from the radio, began to shape Beckett's views towards the Third Reich. This may also have been what led Beckett to play a perilous role in the French resistance movement during World War II.
|The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich|
30th anniversary cover
|Author(s)||William L. Shirer|
|Publisher||Simon & Schuster|
|Media type||Print (hardcover and paperback)|
|ISBN||ISBN 0-671-72868-7 (1990 paperback)|
The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich is a 1960 non-fiction book by William L. Shirer chronicling the general history of Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945. The book is based upon captured Third Reich documents, the available diaries of propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, General Franz Halder, and of the Italian Foreign Minister Galeazzo Ciano, evidence and testimony from the Nuremberg trials, British Foreign Office reports, and the author’s recollections of six years’ of Third Reich reportage, for newspapers, the United Press International (UPI), and CBS Radio, ended by Nazi Party censorship in 1940. In 1961, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich earned a National Book Award, and was adapted to television as a sort of miniseries and broadcast by the American Broadcasting Company network in 1968. Three hours long, the program was telecast one hour a night over three nights.
 Content and themes
The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany is a comprehensive historical synthesis of the Nazi era, positing that German history logically proceeded from Martin Luther to Adolf Hitler;[page needed] that Hitler’s ascension to power was an expression of German national character, not an expression of the totalitarianism in ideologic vogue during the 1930s. Author William L. Shirer summarised his perspective: “...the course of German history... made blind obedience to temporal rulers the highest virtue of Germanic man, and put a premium on servility.” This reportorial perspective, the Sonderweg (Special path) thesis of German history, was then common to American scholarship; yet, despite extensive footnotes and references, some academic critics consider its interpretation of Nazism flawed. Moreover, the history also includes (identified) speculation, such as the theory that SS Chief Heinrich Müller afterwards joined the NKVD of the USSR.
 Success and acclaim
Upon publication on 17 October 1960, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany, sold more than one million hardback copies, two thirds via the Book of the Month Club, and more than a million paperback copies. Its critical recognition as a great history book, and its popular success, surprised author Shirer, because, in that time, 1960, fifteen-years removed from the end of the Second World War (1939–45), neither author nor publisher thought there existed much historical interest in either Adolf Hitler (1889–1945) or Nazi Germany (1933–45), hence commissioned an initial print run of only 12,500 copies.
The book sold well in Britain, France, Italy, and in West Germany, because of its international recognition, bolstered by local, German editorial attacks. In 1961, it won the National Book Award and the Carey-Thomas Award for non-fiction. Moreover, in 1962, the Reader's Digest magazine serialization reached some 12 million additional readers. In the New York Times Book Review, Hugh Trevor-Roper praised it as “a splendid work of scholarship, objective in method, sound in judgment, inescapable in its conclusions.”
Whereas nearly all American journalists praised the book, academics were split. Some of these acknowledged Shirer's achievement, but most condemned it. The harshest criticism tended to come from those who disagreed with the Sonderweg or "Luther to Hitler" thesis mentioned above.
Klaus Epstein listed "four major failings": a crude understanding of German history; a lack of balance, leaving important gaps; no understanding of a modern totalitarian regime; and ignorance of current scholarship of the Nazi period.
Elizabeth Wiskemann stated in a 1961 review that the book was "not sufficiently scholarly nor sufficiently well written to satisfy more academic demands... It is too long and cumbersome... Mr Shirer, has, however compiled a manual... which will certainly prove useful."
Historian Richard J. Evans, author of The Third Reich Trilogy (2003–8), concedes that Rise and Fall is a "readable general history of Nazi Germany" and that "there are good reasons for [its] success." His issue with Shirer is that he worked outside of the academic mainstream, and that his account was not informed by the historical scholarship of the time (1960).
In West Germany, the "Luther to Hitler" interpretation was almost universally rejected in favor of the view that Nazism was an instance of totalitarianism, which arises in various countries. One commentator asserted that Rise and Fall had been unanimously condemned, and considered dangerous to relations between America and West Germany, as it could inflame anti-German sentiments in the United States.