William L. Shirer

William Lawrence Shirer was an American journalist, war correspondent, and historian, who wrote The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, a history of Nazi Germany that has been read by many and cited in scholarly works for more than 50 years. Originally a foreign correspondent for the Chicago Tribune and the International News Service, Shirer was the first reporter hired by Edward R. Murrow for what would become a CBS radio team of journalists, and he became known for his broadcasts from Berlin, from the rise of the Nazi dictatorship through the first year of World War II. With Murrow, he organized the first broadcast world news roundup, a format still followed by news broadcasts.
Shirer wrote more than a dozen books beside The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, including Berlin Diary; The Collapse of the Third Republic, which drew on his experience living and working in France from 1925 to 1933; and a three-volume autobiography, Twentieth Century Journey. His brother was an analyst for the Securities and Exchange Commission and his niece, Jean Ingold, was an employee of the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
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Recalling his friendship and conversations with the late Indian leader, William Shirer presents a portrait of Gandhi that spotlights his frailties as well as his accomplishments.

As a young foreign correspondent, William Shirer reported briefly on Gandhi—but the year was 1931, when India's struggle for independence peaked and Gandhi scored perhaps his greatest political success. The year before, he had led a 200-mile march to the sea to pick up a lump of salt—a violation of the British salt tax; and this symbolic act (like—he reminds Shirer—the Boston Tea Party) had propelled the Indian masses into nonviolent civil disobedience on a large scale. To check its spread, Gandhi had been arbitrarily imprisoned. Now he was out of prison and negotiating with the British viceroy: if Gandhi would call off the civil-disobedience campaign and attend an upcoming London conference, the British would make concessions too.

These, however, were so limited and vague that many Indian nationalists regarded Gandhi's agreement as a sell-out; but Shirer underlines history's judgment of its wisdom with Gandhi's own words. More importantly, he notes, the British had finally been forced "to deal with an Indian leader as an equal." Along these lines, Shirer also witnessed British discomfiture at Gandhi's arrival—complete with loin cloth, spinning wheel, and goat’s milk; he saw the sensation Gandhi caused in London—and heard him address Lancashire millhands thrown out of work by the Indian boycott of British cotton. And he saw him at home, subsisting on four-hours' sleep and "frenzied acclaim." This book is sure to press upon readers the worldwide force of Gandhi's example.

—Kirkus Reviews
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