Preserved Stories Blog


Richard J. Evans’s trilogy and related 2015 text offers a first-rate historical overview of Nazi Germany

Richard J. Evans’s Nazi Germany trilogy along with The Third Reich in History and Memory (2015) is strongly evidence-based, and is presented within a framework that is well-reasoned and well-informed by the available historiography.

A Jan. 4, 2016 review by Christopher E. Mauriello, Salem State University, of The Third Reich in History and Memory (2015), can be accessed here.

A Nov. 14, 2005 New Yorker mini-review of The Third Reich in Power (2005) can be accessed here.

The two other books in the above-noted trilogy are:

The Coming of the Third Reich (2004)

The Third Reich at War, 1939-1945 (2008)

I became interested in the trilogy because I have an interest in reading about – and taking the time to picture in my imagination – events related to my father’s 1936 Berlin Olympics photo album:

My father’s photo album from 1936 Berlin Olympics prompts my reading of Richard J. Evans’s trilogy about Nazi Germany

Small Arms Society

I also have an interest in the trilogy because it gives me a better understanding, than I would otherwise have, of the history related to the Small Arms Building in Mississauga.

I am keen about practising an active approach to reading, based upon the SQ3R – Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review – concept and in alignment with Alice Munro’s approach to reading short stories written by authors other than herself.

I have now read each of the books in the Richard J. Evans trilogy.

Some years ago, I read the third book in the series, but not closely. I read bits and pieces, to familiarize myself with the contents.

After I had spent sone time scanning and studying the photos in my 1936 Berlin Olympics photo album, I decided that I would read each of the trilogy books closely, from cover to cover. In my reading project, I was planning to proceed chronologically, starting with the first book. However, my Toronto Public Library copy of the first book was all marked up by some previous reader(s), and I decided to start with the second book, which I had borrowed from the library along with the first one.

Thus I read the second book, and requested another copy of the first book from the library. The second copy, of the first book in the trilogy, turned out to be unmarked by previous library patrons. Thus after I had finished the second book in the series, I proceeded to read the first, in the series.

That worked out really well, as it meant I was reading the texts in an active kind of way, which I like to do. Reading in chronological order sometimes also works out fine, but I like to mix up the order, when I can, or when I feel like it, because it means that I have a more active engagement with the text, than otherwise would be the case.

Among other ways that I have learned about reading strategies, I learned a lot about this topic years ago when I worked as an elementary teacher with the Peel District School Board.

Finally, I read the third book, about Nazi Germany at war, and then proceeded with The Third Reich in History and Memory (2015).

I am impressed with the work of Richard J. Evans. Among other things, I have learned about how first-rate professional historians go about their work.

I am particularly impressed with Evans’s preface to The Coming of the Third Reich (2004).

Colonialism

The first chapter in The Third Reich in History and Memory (2015) is concerned with links that have been posited between Germany’s colonial experience and the subsequent history of Nazi Germany. The author reviews a study which provides an excellent overview, with an apt conclusion, regarding this topic.

I have for many years been strongly interested in the topic at hand, for which reason I was delighted when I had the opportunity to read the chapter.

Style of writing

I have read many books about Nazi Germany over the past half-century and more. The studies by Richard J. Evans are among the most valuable studies, in this body of literature, that I have come across.

I have already referred to the quality of the evidence and cogency of the framework within which the evidence is presented.

Also of value is Evans’ capacity to maintain the close attention of the reader, by combining high-quality, well-reasoned analysis while drawing aptly from diaries, anecdotes, and details. Such an approach brings the story to life, in a way that an extended essay is not able to do.

That said, there are potential drawbacks, in cases where the selection of details serves to engage readers through the power – and drawbacks – of stereotypes (in particular as it relates, by way of example, to the topic of stuttering). I will discuss this further down the road, if time permits.

 

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