I’ve a bit of disappointment to offer you today, my friends. I’d wanted my quickshot review of The Long Night: William L. Shirer and the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, by Steve Wick, to be detailed and in-depth, but I confess that I’ve found I have very little to say about it. Steve Wick is a journalist and this book is a portrayal (based off of both Shirer’s published writings and some of his unpublished manuscripts and diaries) of his time covering Nazi Germany from the 30s up to 1940. The prologue details his flight from Berlin and the first chapter shifts back to his life as a writer in the 1930s before going even further back and outlining his early life and how he became a journalist. Then the next couple of chapters outline his other journalistic efforts before going on to his dispatch to Vienna and then Nazi Germany It’s pretty much the same stuff I read in his autobiography, although there’s more here about how he met his wife Tess, which I appreciated. The rest of the book describes how he lived and worked as a journalist in Germany, focusing on the German atrocities he heard of and the difficulties an honest newsman had to endure; the end of it, depicting Shirer’s voyage from Germany, closes the main body of the book on an ominous note with Shirer wondering if the Germans would conquer the world (p. 223). Of course, they lost World War II, and the postscript offers a brief overview of Shirer’s life after World War II, which again is pretty much all covered in his autobiography.
Don’t get the wrong impression from this breezy synopsis, Steve Wick has done some fine work. His analysis of Shirer’s character is generally spot-on, IMO, and the book itself is smooth and entertaining reading. He did an excellent job of creating an exciting narrative. Alas, most of it already seemed quite familiar to me, having read all three volumes of A Native’s Return. Thus, I had a bit less fun with it than I would have otherwise. Still, there was some interesting new stuff here, such as the aforementioned bits with Tess. I just wish I’d read it before Shirer’s autobiography, I think I would have enjoyed both better. So I can heartily recommend this book, as it makes an excellent introduction to William Shirrer’s personal and intellectual life along with his most famous work as a journalist. I would just recommend checking it out before diving into his autobiographies 🙂