Shirer, who has witnessed much history in the making, rehashes too much of it in this graceless, humorless third and final installment of memoirs. More interesting is the personal material. His career as a radio commentator ended when CBS fired him in 1947, and he reveals the dark role played by Edward R. Murrow. His account of the affair begins, ``I've waited a long time to do this.'' Shirer describes the struggle to support his family during the McCarthy years, then his dramatic success as a bestselling author with the 1960 publication of The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich . But his memoir also becomes an occasion to get back at publishers and reviewers who were not enthusiastic over his books; at length he recalls frustrating conferences with Alfred Knopf and others, reprints negative reviews and quibbles over them. He also takes the opportunity to defend his work against the disdain of historians who, he maintains, cannot accept his popularity. Photos. ( Jan.)
When it comes to writing history, Shirer extols the values of first-hand observation. Personal impressions and anecdotes have enlivened his books and accounted in part for their popularity. Thus the chronicler of the Third Reich ( The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, LJ 8/15/60) and the Third French Republic ( The Collapse of the Third Republic, LJ 10/15/69) approached the writing of his memoirs: ``I hoped to make it not so much a memoir of myself, but of the times I had lived through,'' he writes. This third volume covering the Cold War years brings his journey to the present. Highlights include his unhappy separation from CBS in 1947 and the ordeal of Americans in the McCarthy era. Shirer also fills in background on his best-selling books. Shirer's relative isolation from historical events during this period lessens the value of this volume, but his reflections in the preface and introduction help to balance the commonplace observations. Sure to be in demand in public libraries. BOMC alternate.-- William C. McCully Jr., Park Ridge P.L., Ill.