The question you must ask yourself before choosing a book about Nazi Germany is: Out of all those available, why should I choose this one?
A search on Amazon of those two words, Nazi Germany, comes back with 6,573 results.
The answer is that Richard Evans’s three-volume History of the Third Reich is extremely well written. He goes into incredible detail and explains some complex ideas, but never does so in anything other than a very readable way.
There’s a danger there. Just because a book is well written doesn’t mean it’s not full of lies. But I’d be surprised if this ever turned out to be the case with Evans.
From what I can see, never having read any other books on the subject, it as well researched as you would expect from a Cambridge University professor.
Other reviewers have questioned why certain things are left out altogether, or dealt with only passing. Events like the Battle of Britain, the siege of Stalingrad and the Normandy Invasion are dealt with in just a few pages each. Whole volumes have been written on those events alone.
But that’s the point: this is an overview of the Nazis, from start to finish, and selection of material is one of the key issues a writer has to solve. If you want more on a particular aspect, you won’t have trouble finding it.
Evans does not have any agenda to push, or a theory to expound: he’s just trying to get at the truth.
One of my main reasons for reading was to think about how a modern nation fell to such extremists, and if anything like it could ever happen again. In that respect, the first volume, The Coming of the Third Reich, is the most interesting.
I was left with the feeling that for all the potential problems we have in the world, an uprising of Neo-Nazis is not something to worry about too much. Something else, equally bad, or indeed worse, may happen, but Hitler won’t happen all over again.
In the third volume, The Third Reich at War, I very nearly stood on the chair to cheer as it all fell apart.
The three books are intended, I imagine, as text books, and to be the authoritative text on the Nazis, but they are not at all dry or unemotional.
Until I read a few others, I won’t know if this trilogy is better or worse. But in terms of understanding the reasons for Hitler’s rise, and what happened when he was in power, and how it all came falling apart, you are left with plenty of facts from which to draw your own conclusions.
Am I right, or am I talking rubbish?