Preoccupation Station

A brief missive to prove that I’m still alive.

I’ve been trying to do more reading lately, though in the past few years I find that I have a much harder time focusing for long periods and retaining what I’ve read.  (I’ve heard that can be chalked up to perimenopause, oh joy.)

Given that, it may seem a strange time to finally attempt to tackle The Rise & Fall of the Third Reich, but I got it for Yule and by Gott, I’m gonna give it a try. I have a morbid “history doomed to repeat itself” fascination with the origins of the Nazi regime, and the sociological factors that somehow caused millions of Germans to think that Hitler was a Good Idea, and several excellent books on the topic line my shelves (Richard Evans’ The Coming of the Third Reich and its sequel The Third Reich in Power, neither of which I remember much of now.  See?)  But I’ve never tried to tackle Rise & Fall, even though it is the granddaddy of all Nazi histories and still considered authoritative 50 years after its publication.  Its author, William Shirer, was a journalist stationed in Berlin during the 30s who had a front-row seat to the Nazi takeover and met and interacted with many of the key players, ate lunch with Hitler, covered the rallies for CBS radio, etc.  Giving him a perspective that later historians could never match.

I think it’s been the 1200+ page length that’s put me off this long.

But I’ve decided to tackle this thing strategically.  R&FOTTR is divided into five “books” of varying length.  I’m going to read the first two, then take a break and read something else entirely, then come back and read Book 3 (300 pages in itself), take a break and read some fluff, und so weiter.  In this manner, I think I should be able to get through R&FOTTR while preserving my sanity.

Not that the book is hard reading, language-wise.  On the contrary, Shirer’s journalistic background lends his style a clarity that academic historians never achieve.  But there so many junctures where I need to set it down and walk away, lest I get overwhelmed with despair…all of those “if it weren’t for this one strange coincidence, Hitler never would have come to power” moments, and all of the parts that sounds so eerily like America in the 21st century, they take their toll.

As of this writing, I’ve just begun Book 2 and am on page 141.  Or in other words:

I’ll keep you posted.  Does anyone have any suggestions for something fluffy-but-not-intelligence-insulting to read on my Book 3 break?  Please no romance novels, mysteries, or vampire shit.

One Response to “Preoccupation Station”

  1. Mrs. Hdawg Says:

    I read the R&FOTTR years ago, and found it to be an easy, accessible read despite its massive size. It’s definitely not a book you can read in bed! It’s a wise strategy to break it up with some lighthearted fare.
    I don’t know if our literary tastes align so much, but I’ve always loved Tom Robbins. Skinny Legs and All is a great read about love, art, and the Middle East. One of my Top 10. And Jitterbug Perfume – about immortality and perfume, also in my Top 10. Actually, my Top 10 may be crowded with Tom Robbins novels.

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