The rise and fall of the third Reich
This is a massive book which dives deep into the personalties and characters of the second world war.
It's written by a journalist with no real claims at being an historian which in itself proves to be a boon to a book this massive.
The personal narrative is almost maintained throughout the book with short but relevant lapses into numbers of casualties and statistics.
The author worked as a foreign correspondent in Germany during the both the years leading up to to the war and the war itself.
This familiarity with the times and characters of the era allows him to add a lot of personal references and thoughts which adds a depth to the narrative.
It's hard to define an era and it's hard to describe horrible events with clarity, this book manages to do both without becoming boring.
For a layman I would say this is the definitive book on the second world war, at least from a German and geopolitical point of view.