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The Third Reich

A New History

Michael Burleigh

Hill and Wang

The Third Reich Download image

ISBN10: 080909326X
ISBN13: 9780809093267

Trade Paperback

992 Pages



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Until now there has been no up-to-date, one-volume, international history of Nazi Germany, despite its being among the most studied historical subjects of modern times. The Third Reich restores a broad perspective and intellectual unity to issues that have become academic subspecialties and offers a brilliant new interpretation of Hilter's evil rule.

Filled with human and moral considerations that are missing from theoretical accounts, Burleigh's book gives full weight to the experience of ordinary people who were swept up in, or repelled by, Hilter's movement. It emphasizes, as well, the international themes—for Nazi Germany appealed to the political classes and the ordinary people of many European nations, its wartime conduct included efforts to dominate the entire continent's economy, and its murderous policies involved gigantic population transfers and exterminations, recruitment of foreign labor, and multinational armies.

What happened when many, or most, of Germany's elite as well as a majority of its citizenry chose not to think for themselves and to favor instead a politics based on faith, hope, hatred, and sentimental regard for their own race and nation? The consequences were catastrophic for Germany, Europe, and the wider world, but no more so than for European Jews. Burleigh's account of the moral breakdown and transformation of an advanced industrial society in the heart of Europe is a remarkably clearheaded assessment of the dangerous consequences when, in a country still obsessed with losses in a previous war, a political movement takes on the form of a pseudo, or substitute, religion.


Praise for The Third Reich

"Not merely the most comprehensive one-volume account of the Third Reich in any language, but an original work of interpretation in which straightforward narrative history, rigorous analytical explanation and unblinking intellectual-moral judgement are united with compelling originality."—Michael André Bernstein, The Los Angeles Times Book Review

"Michael Burleigh's The Third Reich deserves high praise. There is no better interpretative history of the period, nor is there likely to be one soon. His mastery of the sources, old as well as very recent, is remarkable, his judgment is sound, and the narrative could not be bettered."—Walter Laqueur

"This book is a remarkable achievement. Michael Burleigh has succeeded in presenting a comprehensive history of the criminality of the Third Reich as well as of the (very limited) efforts to resist it. Although the book concentrates on the successive phases of the growing horror, Burleigh has managed to place his narration within a general representation of Hitler's Germany, from its inception to its demise. His extraordinary mastery of an immense monographic literature, and the cogency of his overall interpretation based on the notion of political religion, give The Third Reich the status of a classic."—Saul Friedländer

"The subtitle's promise of 'a new history' is no mere sales ploy . . . Throughout. Burleigh demonstrates a subtle feel for the particulars, those gray zones of life where wrenching human dilemmas confronted those who cheered and served Hitler as well as those who resisted him."—V. R. Berghahn, The New York Times Book Review

"Michael Burleigh's massive and comprehensive new history is very welcome indeed. It is unrivaled in its range, its originality, and its ambition. I expect that this extraordinary book will remain unmatched for many years."—Omer Bartov, The New Republic

"Burleigh has produced a single-volume study of the Third Reich that can only be called a tour de force. He traces the Third Reich's rise and fall by selectively focusing on key problems and major turning points rather than trying to touch on every single topic. He is particularly attentive to questions of how to understand persecutions, mass murder, and armed conflict . . . A special feature of the book is the attention paid to Eastern Europe, which is an area Burleigh knows well from his earlier research and writing . . . He offers new perspectives on the Holocaust, even about topics we might think have been well covered in the literature . . . His approach, in other words, is not only to go over the same ground covered in other studies but also to pose new questions and to offer many refreshingly new answers. All along the line he provocatively challenges historians in their many subspecialties . . . Michael Burleigh not only surveys the history of the Third Reich but also offers in-depth accounts of many of the key problems and historiographical controversies. His approach is always interesting and often original, the text fast moving and compelling. Indeed he has written with such passion and brilliance that he sets a new standard in the field. This is not the kind of 'big book' one buys and merely consults on occasion: it is one that should be read. It provides a grand narrative, substantive new findings, and challenging theoretical perspectives. Even with its considerable size, the book will be a rewarding challenge for undergraduate and graduate students. It really is a must read, not just for people in the field but also for anyone interested in coming to terms with those most troubling times."—Robert Gellately, Clark University, Journal of Modern History

"An astonishing and awe-inspiring history . . . Authentically new . . . A breathtaking achievement, at once broader and deeper than any other single volume ever published on the subject. Indeed, I would go further: it is the authentic historical genius."—Niall Ferguson, The Sunday Times (London)

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About the author

Michael Burleigh

Michael Burleigh, William R. Kenan Visiting Professor at Washington and Lee University and Distinguished Research Professor in Modern History at Cardiff University, has written six other books on modern European history. He lives in Lexington, Virginia.

Michael Burleigh