William L. Shirer (1904-1993)
William L. Shirer was born in Chicago and studied at Coe College. After graduating in 1925, he worked his way to Europe to travel for the summer but ended up spending several years there. During that time, he served as a European correspondent for the Chicago Tribune from 1925-1932. In his role with the Chicago Tribune, Shirer covered most of Europe, India, and the Middle East. During the 1930s, he lived in the United States and France. He lived and worked in Germany from 1934 to 1940 under the Third Reich, as a reporter for CBS radio.
As censorship under the Nazi party grew, so did Shirer’s frustrations with his inability to cover news as he saw fit. Ultimately, in 1940 he smuggled his diaries and notes out of Germany and returned to the United States. This material served as the basis for Berlin Diary, which was published in 1941.
During the war, Shirer was director of the Society for the Prevention of World War III, a group with which Mark Van Doren was also associated. After the war Shirer returned to Europe to cover the Nuremberg Trials in 1945. In the United States, Shirer continued to work for CBS from 1940 through 1947.
In 1950 Shirer was named as someone with communist sympathies, which virtually barred him from broadcast media. Finally in 1960, Simon & Schuster published his book The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, returning him to the public eye and the esteem of the literary world. Over the course of his career Shirer authored seventeen books, three of which were works of fiction. We also won the National Book Award for Nonfiction and the Carey-Thomas Award for nonfiction in 1961 for his book The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. Shirer died in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1993.
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