"By K.A.Goldberg (Chicago) - See all my reviews
The author's third and final memoir volume is very moving, but falls just short of its outstanding predecessors (THE START & NIGHTMARE YEARS) due to lighter sprinkling of contemporary history. William L. Shirer (1904-1993) lived a remarkably full life, and at age 85 retained the immense talents that ranked him among our top journalist/historians. Here he recounts returning to a defeated Berlin in 1945, his firing by CBS News (told quite differently elsewhere), and his struggle to write RISE AND FALL OF THE THIRD REICH while semi-blacklisted and half-broke in the late 1950's. Shirer also takes a limited look at the events of the 1970's and 1980's, describes his prolific seniority, and pays tribute to friends lost to advancing years. The author's bittersweet account of his final visit to Paris 60 years after having first lived there in the 1920's speaks volumes. This journalist-turned-author was a perceptive realist, somewhat headstrong and pessimistic, and well seasoned by wine, women and song. Writing that wonderfully readable prose of old newspapermen, Shirer certainly left his mark - as had been predicted in his college days by a long-forgotten editor back in Cedar Rapids, Iowa (see THE START).
This final memoir is perhaps best once you've gotten a sense of the man from his earlier memoirs and other stellar books. Not knowing that he'd live to finish another book (on Tolstoy), Shirer's final passages are a moving farewell. As he states, "...it was an interesting fate to be an American in the Twentieth Century...I am glad it was mine."