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Publisher's Summary

William L. Shirer was a CBS foreign correspondent and renowned author of New York Times best-selling nonfiction about World War II, and this is the first part of his three-part autobiography. 

A renowned journalist and author of The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, William L. Shirer chronicles his own life story in a personal history that parallels the greater historical events for which he served as a witness. 

In this first volume, Shirer tells of his early life, growing up in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and later serving as a new reporter in Paris. In this surprisingly intimate account, Shirer details his youthful challenges, setbacks, rebellions, and insights into the world around him. He offers personal accounts of his friendships with notable people, including Isadora Duncan, Ernest Hemingway, and Sinclair Lewis. 

This fascinating personal account also provides an illuminating look into the lost era of pre-World War II - and is notable as much for its historical value as for its autobiographical detail.

©1979, 2018 William L. Shirer (P)2019 Blackstone Publishing

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 10-05-2020

Grover Gardner brings this memoir to life

Grover Gardner is probably my favorite reader, and he does a great job as usual bringing this memoir of the early life of William Shirer to life. Since Shirer was a progressive historian and journalist this is more than just a personal memoir, but also a bit of a history of America and even the world during these first three decades of the 20th century. If you're a history buff and enjoy the nuanced, lively, and yet somehow calming readings of Grover Gardner this is highly recommended.

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  • Nancy
  • 12-08-2020

Clouds gathering on the horizon in Europe

The first of three books in this famous series (The Start, Berlin Diary, End of a Berlin Diary) by William L. Shirer, I'm glad that I happened upon the "Berlin Diary" books first. They put you right into the middle of Berlin, as Adolph Hitler was gaining power. "The Start," which covers this renown Journalist and Author's early life, from growing up in middle America through his fantastic early career and experiences in pre-WWII Europe, gets off to a slow start. In fact, I'm afraid I would never have finished it, if I didn't already know what was in store for him and the reader in his latter two books in the series. Even after he gets a job right out of college in France as a cub reporter, this true story suddenly picks up tempo, as he ends up greeting Charles Lindbergh on a grass airstrip outside Paris. From that point on, it seems, he is always in the right place at the right time, interviewing European Heads of State and world-renown celebrities of the time, including Lindbergh. But this is also a story, as seen through his eyes, of an optimistic America in the first third of the Century, having survived "the War to End All Wars" and going into the Great Depression. So, hang in there for a great ride after he gets to Paris. The narration is excellent, although you might get real tired of hearing all the French names of people he meets and the addresses of dozens of cafe's he regularly visits. It is truly remarkable the level of detail he has written into his diary throughout his life, knowing from the very beginning, it seems, that he would write an excellent autobiographical piece like this some day. All three books comprise a story of one of America's finest Journalists. What a life!

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