The Long Night: William L. Shirer and the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich
The sub title tells you everything you need to know about this book. It’s a biography of William Shirer that covers Shirers time in Nazi German. Yet somehow I thought it would be more. The writing didn’t do anything for me. It seemed to be a rehash of Shirer’s diaries. It does bring up the responsibilities of Journalist to report fairly both to friendly governments and corrupt governments. A problem that is particularly troublesome today.
From his unique post, Shirer saw many things that horrified him. He stood near Hitler and heard his threats. He attended parties at which high- ranking Nazis entertained foreign correspondents. It’s clear he found them a loathsome group and a grave threat to democracies everywhere. It was only after the war-after he sat in the courtroom in Nuremberg, after he read many of the captured German documents kept in the US National Archives in preparation for writing The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, and after he read the accounts of the Eichmann trial in Jerusalem-that he realized that what he had seen during his six years in Berlin was through a very small window. I believe he made a pact with himself while he was in Berlin-to write as best he could under difficult conditions, to keep going as long as he could, and to report as thoroughly as was possible. He could not do it all; By all appearances, he did the best he could.
Many journalists have worked under conditions of official government deception, lies typed out daily in press statements, and reaped great results. David Halberstam and Neil Sheehan covered the war in Vietnam while working against military censors and government officials angered at the two journalists’ stories about the state of the war effort. Both men were denounced by American officials. They kept writing. There are many journalists working in countries around the world who write stories that anger their governments. They swim against the current that other journalists float comfortably along in. Two courageous Israeli journalists, Amira Flass and Gideon Levy, write what they see in Israel and in the occupied territories. Hass has lived in the territories so she can better understand the day-to-day lives of Palestinians under the Israeli occupation. Both continue to file stories; their newspaper, Haaretz, continues to publish them.
[Sheehan’s “A Bright Shining Lie” is one of my all-time favorite books. -Craig]
A former colleague of mine at Newsday, Roy Gutman, won the Pulitzer Prize for writing about concentration camps in Bosnia. No government official typed out that story on a press release and handed it to him, along with a map showing just where to look for the evidence. Concentration camps! Could he have done more important work as a journalist? This is not a book about journalism as it is being practiced in America circa 2011. There is no sermon embedded in the narrative of this book. It is a story about a single journalist at work. – Author’s Note page 240