William Lawrence Shirer (February 23, 1904 – December 28, 1993) was an American journalist and war correspondent. He 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 known as "Murrow's Boys". He became known for his broadcasts from Berlin, from the rise of the Nazi dictatorship through the first year of World War II (1940). With Murrow, he organized the first broadcast world news roundup, a format still followed by news broadcasts.
Shirer wrote more than a dozen books besides The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, including Berlin Diary (published in 1941); The Collapse of the Third Republic (1969), which drew on his experience living and working in France from 1925 to 1933; and a three-volume autobiography, Twentieth Century Journey (1976 to 1990).
Born in Chicago in 1904, Shirer attended Washington High School and Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He graduated from Coe in 1925. Working his way to Europe on a cattle boat to spend the summer there, he remained in Europe for 15 years.
He was European correspondent for the Chicago Tribune from 1925 to 1932, covering Europe, the Near East and India. In India he formed a friendship with Mohandas Gandhi. Shirer lived and worked in France for several years starting in 1925. He left in the early 1930s but returned frequently to Paris throughout the decade. He lived and worked in Germany during the era of the Third Reich from 1934 to 1940.
In 1931, Shirer married Theresa ("Tess") Stiberitz, an Austrian photographer. The couple had two daughters, Eileen ("Inga") and Linda. Shirer and his wife divorced in 1970. In 1972 he married Martha Pelton, whom he divorced in 1975. His third (and final) marriage was to Irina Lugovskaya, a long-time teacher of Russian at Simon's Rock College. Shirer and Irina had no children.
Shirer lived in Lenox, Massachusetts at the time of his death.