This book, published in 2003, was the first book of a three-volume history of the Third Reich. It is followed by a second volume, The Third Reich in Power (2005), which covers the peacetime years of Nazi rule between 1933 and 1939, and a third volume, The Third Reich at War (2008).
From a capsule review at Foreign Affairs:
This first part of what will be Evans' three-volume history of Hitler's regime is the most comprehensive and convincing work so far on the fall of Weimar and Hitler's rise to power. Unlike past accounts suggesting that things could have turned out differently had some of the key players been less foolish, Evans builds, stone by stone, a monument to prove that Hitler's ascent was the only possible outcome even though the Nazi Party never captured an absolute majority of votes. ...
The last part of the book is a detailed, depressing account of Hitler's transformation of Germany in a few months in 1933, including the "cultural revolution" in which both Martin Heidegger and storm troopers played key roles.
I read this book because I know so little about the history of Germany and I am very interested in Germany during World War II and how Hitler came to power. I wanted to understand how a nation was taken over by a concept like Nazism. Evans attempts to answer that and other questions in this book. Per Evans, "These three books are addressed in the first place to people who know nothing about the subject, or who know a little and would like to know more. I hope that specialists will find something of interest in them but they are not the primary readership for which the books are intended."
Did I get answers to my questions? For the most part, yes. But, as I say above, I wanted to understand, and I still don't understand why it all happened. I have explanations and a lots more background, and that is a big step forward. I probably will never understand fully (and that is OK).
One area that has hampered a lot of my reading (of historical fiction set in this time) was a confusion on the various police and paramilitary groups in Germany, beginning with the rise of Hitler through World War II. There were a lot of different groups, and their functions and power did change over those years. Now I do have a clearer picture of that.
Did I enjoy reading the book? No. I think it would have taken less time to finish had I found it more enjoyable. There was too much detail for me. I guess I wanted more of an overview. Also, it was a depressing subject (which I knew going in).
Would I recommend this book? Yes, very much. First, because it does provide the overview and background that it sets out to do. As I mentioned above, there are many areas in this book where I picked up a lot of knowledge about this time and place. Second, because my husband enjoyed all of the books in the trilogy. He is not a historian but history and social history are among his favorite subjects.
In closing, I offer two reviews of The Coming of the Third Reich, should you wish to know more about the book.
At Handful of Sand