The public’s memory of what Nazi Germany was and did has been, in recent years, mangled and trivialized. Widely seen but misleading films and politicized accusations of countries perpetrating “holocausts” against various groups have debased people’s sense of the real nature of the Germans’ deeds during World War II. Which is why Richard J. Evans’s “Third Reich at War” couldn’t have come at a better time. The book may well be not only the finest but also the most riveting account of that period. If any work of accurate history has a chance to correct the distortions of public memory, this is it. The story of Germany between its invasion of Poland in 1939 and its collapse in 1945 is a complex one. Its details have been reported in thousands of publications. In this book — the last in a magisterial trilogy covering the entire history of the Third Reich — Evans, a professor of history at Cambridge, brilliantly weaves together the diverse strands of the monumental evil at the heart of that story. The result is a narrative tapestry we can now see whole.
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