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Jeder stirbt für sich allein (Classics To Go)

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(Auszug): "Die Geschehnisse dieses Buches folgen in großen Zügen Akten der Gestapo über die illegale Tätigkeit eines Berliner Arbeiterehepaares während der Jahre 1940 bis 1942. Nur in großen Zügen ein Roman hat eigene Gesetze und kann nicht in allem der Wirklichkeit folgen. Darum hat es der Verfasser auch vermieden, Authentisches über das Privatleben dieser beiden (Auszug): "Die Geschehnisse dieses Buches folgen in großen Zügen Akten der Gestapo über die illegale Tätigkeit eines Berliner Arbeiterehepaares während der Jahre 1940 bis 1942. Nur in großen Zügen – ein Roman hat eigene Gesetze und kann nicht in allem der Wirklichkeit folgen. Darum hat es der Verfasser auch vermieden, Authentisches über das Privatleben dieser beiden Menschen zu erfahren: er mußte sie so schildern, wie sie ihm vor Augen standen. Sie sind also zwei Gestalten der Phantasie, wie auch alle anderen Figuren dieses Romans frei erfunden sind. Trotzdem glaubt der Verfasser an die innere Wahrheit des Erzählten, wenn auch manche Einzelheit den tatsächlichen Verhältnissen nicht ganz entspricht. Mancher Leser wird finden, daß in diesem Buche reichlich viel gequält und gestorben wird. Der Verfasser gestattet sich, darauf aufmerksam zu machen, daß in diesem Buche fast ausschließlich von Menschen die Rede ist, die gegen das Hitlerregime ankämpften, von ihnen und ihren Verfolgern. In diesen Kreisen wurde in den Jahren 1940 bis 1942 und vorher und nachher ziemlich viel gestorben. Etwa ein gutes Drittel dieses Buches spielt in Gefängnissen und Irrenhäusern, und auch in ihnen war das Sterben sehr im Schwange. Es hat dem Verfasser oft nicht gefallen, ein so düsteres Gemälde zu entwerfen, aber mehr Helligkeit hätte Lüge bedeutet."


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(Auszug): "Die Geschehnisse dieses Buches folgen in großen Zügen Akten der Gestapo über die illegale Tätigkeit eines Berliner Arbeiterehepaares während der Jahre 1940 bis 1942. Nur in großen Zügen ein Roman hat eigene Gesetze und kann nicht in allem der Wirklichkeit folgen. Darum hat es der Verfasser auch vermieden, Authentisches über das Privatleben dieser beiden (Auszug): "Die Geschehnisse dieses Buches folgen in großen Zügen Akten der Gestapo über die illegale Tätigkeit eines Berliner Arbeiterehepaares während der Jahre 1940 bis 1942. Nur in großen Zügen – ein Roman hat eigene Gesetze und kann nicht in allem der Wirklichkeit folgen. Darum hat es der Verfasser auch vermieden, Authentisches über das Privatleben dieser beiden Menschen zu erfahren: er mußte sie so schildern, wie sie ihm vor Augen standen. Sie sind also zwei Gestalten der Phantasie, wie auch alle anderen Figuren dieses Romans frei erfunden sind. Trotzdem glaubt der Verfasser an die innere Wahrheit des Erzählten, wenn auch manche Einzelheit den tatsächlichen Verhältnissen nicht ganz entspricht. Mancher Leser wird finden, daß in diesem Buche reichlich viel gequält und gestorben wird. Der Verfasser gestattet sich, darauf aufmerksam zu machen, daß in diesem Buche fast ausschließlich von Menschen die Rede ist, die gegen das Hitlerregime ankämpften, von ihnen und ihren Verfolgern. In diesen Kreisen wurde in den Jahren 1940 bis 1942 und vorher und nachher ziemlich viel gestorben. Etwa ein gutes Drittel dieses Buches spielt in Gefängnissen und Irrenhäusern, und auch in ihnen war das Sterben sehr im Schwange. Es hat dem Verfasser oft nicht gefallen, ein so düsteres Gemälde zu entwerfen, aber mehr Helligkeit hätte Lüge bedeutet."

30 review for Jeder stirbt für sich allein (Classics To Go)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Tony

    Loved this. But first, some context: Hans Fallada is the pen name of Rudolf Ditzen. At the age of 18, Ditzen and a friend went out in the countryside and, in the manner of duellists, fired guns at each other over some adolescent sexual rutting. The friend missed, but Ditzen's aim was true. Taking his friend's gun, Ditzen shot himself in the chest, but survived. For the first of many times, Ditzen was committed to a sanatorium for the mentally ill. Released, Ditzen turned to alcohol and narcotics. Loved this. But first, some context: Hans Fallada is the pen name of Rudolf Ditzen. At the age of 18, Ditzen and a friend went out in the countryside and, in the manner of duellists, fired guns at each other over some adolescent sexual rutting. The friend missed, but Ditzen's aim was true. Taking his friend's gun, Ditzen shot himself in the chest, but survived. For the first of many times, Ditzen was committed to a sanatorium for the mentally ill. Released, Ditzen turned to alcohol and narcotics. This didn't stop him from becoming a successful novelist. Perhaps it helped? His 1932 novel Little Man, What Now was a popular success and Hollywood turned it into a film. Hitler spurned him though, because of the Jewish producers of the film. His drinking and drug use increased, he became more unstable, and was committed to a Nazi insane asylum. There, he wrote the novel The Drinker, not published until 1950 (and now on my Mount TBR). The war ended; Ditzen was released from the asylum, but he was now a dying man. A friend gave him the file of a middle-aged couple who began leaving handwritten anti-Nazi notes after the wife's brother died in combat. IN 24 DAYS Ditzen wrote Every Man Dies Alone based on their story. 24 DAYS! He died before it was published, a morphine overdose. It was not translated and published here until 2009. You may turn your head, thinking this is just more Holocaust literature. But turn back because this is special. Otto and Anna Quangel are special. The basis of the story is admittedly small because the crime is small: writing anti-Nazi postcards and dropping them in random stairwells. Anna asks, "Isn't this thing that you're wanting to do, isn't is a bit small, Otto?" Otto tells her, "Whether it's big or small, Anna, if they get wind of it, it'll cost us our lives." And so we are sold. Anna and Otto are surrounded by many characters though. And that is the brilliance of the novel. Each character, however small, becomes important, definitional. Let me share just one: "the doctor", who is really a symphony conductor. He shares a cell with Otto. He is not exactly Otto's kind of guy. But the doctor grows on him. The doctor is forbidden to sing. So he hums. Outside, during their morning walk.... Quangel got used to listening to this humming. Whatever his poor opinion of music, he did notice its effect on him. Sometimes it made him feel strong and brave enough to endure any fate, and then Reichhardt would say, "Beethoven." Sometimes it made him bafflingly lighthearted and cheerful, which he had never been in his life, and then Reichhardt would say, "Mozart," and Quangel would forget all about his worries. And sometimes the sounds emanating from the doctor were dark and heavy, and Quangel would feel a pain in his chest, and it would be as though he was a little boy again sitting in church with his mother, with something grand--the whole of life--ahead of him, and then Reichhardt would say, "Johann Sebastien Bach." What amazed me, and why I led off with the author's life story, is that this is not simply a genre of a book; it's not just a book about WWII or Nazis or an anti-Nazi movement. This is superb craftsmanship. Written in 1947, there is nothing dated about it. Perhaps that's the wonderful translation. (Although there are numerous ghastly typos, which I do not count against the author or translator). It feels timely, immediate. By way of post-script, here are just two things I learned from this book: First, a proverb: He who has butter on his head should not go out in the sun. True that. And second, under the Racial Purity Laws, all Jewish women in Nazi Germany had to change their first names to "Sara" and all Jewish men had to change their names to "Israel". But this is a book about simple people, like Philip Roth's Al Gionfriddo, "A little man, Doctor, who once did a very great thing."

  2. 5 out of 5

    Agnieszka

    Who would have thought that the novel concerning middle-aged couple dropping postcards on stairwells of random buildings would be so thrilling. But make no mistake. They were not ordinary cards. They carried on their surface some home truths and it was reason enough to give your head to executioner. Alone in Berlin or Every man dies alone reads like first-rate thriller though its something more. Its a record, a meticulous one, of awakening and refusal. Awakening of spirit and refusal to be part Who would have thought that the novel concerning middle-aged couple dropping postcards on stairwells of random buildings would be so thrilling. But make no mistake. They were not ordinary cards. They carried on their surface some home truths and it was reason enough to give your head to executioner. Alone in Berlin or Every man dies alone reads like first-rate thriller though it’s something more. It’s a record, a meticulous one, of awakening and refusal. Awakening of spirit and refusal to be part of murderous and inhuman system anymore. It had its roots in personal matters at first place but it quickly became something bigger. There are so many things the story so strongly resonates with readers. It was written shortly after the war ended and has an air of something to be closest to depictured events and the fact it was based on police reports gives it even more authenticity. The other reason is Fallada’s style. Sometimes it feels very unsophisticated, unpolished even. Maybe it’s his own unique voice or perhaps the effect he wrote it in barely three weeks. And third reason and maybe the most important is the novel is based on true events and Fallada changed only some details. Literary Anna and Otto Quangel are based on Elise and Otto Hampel’ case. The married couple through almost two years were delivering hand-wrote cards calling people to resistance against the Third Reich. After arresting they were tried for high treason and executed on April 1943. There are facts and the novel is fictionalized account of their life with some rather cosmetic changes. It’s captivating and fascinating story and though I knew the outcome from the start I loved reading it. There was something touching in the way Anna and Otto, this seemingly cold and remote Otto, were discussing their deed and how they imagined their cards circulating among people, making its way through factories to open people’ eyes. One could say it’s naivety from their part to think such an action could bring collapse of Nazism. One could even shrug their shoulders on unimportance of their doings but in the long run consequences were deadly serious. Hans Fallada brilliantly evoked an atmosphere of growing horror and menace, constant terror, Gestapo agents and people turned into snoopers that for fear or money were spying their families and neighbours. He created unforgettable protagonists both these heroic and mean-spirited as well, and some of them in best Dickensian manner. Anna and Otto Quangel are neither young nor rebellious and in the beginning even not very hostile to Nazi politics. Hardly heroic material, indeed. The moment Otto Quangel finds out how many from over two hundred postcards he wrote with his untrained hand really reached its readers is truly heartbreaking. You may say their action brought only danger to them and people they cared for without much effect. You can't be more wrong. Even the smallest stone can turn the course of avalanche. 4.5/5

  3. 4 out of 5

    Violet wells

    "Then he picked up the pen and said softly, but clearly, "The first sentence of our first card will read: Mother! The Führer has murdered my son."....At that instant she grasped that this very first sentence was Otto's absolute and irrevocable declaration of war, and also what that meant: war between, on the one side, the two of them, poor, small, insignificant workers who could be extinguished for just a word or two, and on the other, the Führer, the Party, the whole apparatus in all its power "Then he picked up the pen and said softly, but clearly, "The first sentence of our first card will read: Mother! The Führer has murdered my son."....At that instant she grasped that this very first sentence was Otto's absolute and irrevocable declaration of war, and also what that meant: war between, on the one side, the two of them, poor, small, insignificant workers who could be extinguished for just a word or two, and on the other, the Führer, the Party, the whole apparatus in all its power and glory, with three-fourths or even four-fifths of the German people behind it. And the two of them in this little room in Jablonski Strasse.” First and foremost this is an absolutely captivating novel. As exciting in its choreography of brilliantly sustained dramatic tension as the best thriller. What it lacks in artistry is made up for by its streamlined vitality and the pulsing urgency of its narrative. There’s something Dickensian about this energy, just as there’s something Dickensian about its characters, all of whom are exaggerated, even caricatured but who nevertheless are always large and vivid with humanity. The Nazis too are powerfully caricatured. At one point a Nazi character says, “I don’t care about emotions. I’d rather have a proper ham sandwich than all the emotion in the world.” This statement is very much in keeping with Nazi priorities within the parameters of the novel where not only the banality of evil is brilliantly dramatised but also the banality of good. Alone in Berlin is based on a true story. Otto and Anna Quangel in the novel are based on Otto and Elise Hampel who, to begin with, are not by any means hostile to the National Socialists. This changes when Elise’s brother is killed early in the war. The Hampels now begin leaving hundreds of postcards all over Berlin calling for civil disobedience. In the novel it is the death of Otto and Anna’s son that sparks the change of stance towards the Nazis. Otto, a foreman in a furniture factory that soon will be turned over to making coffins, is provoked into resistance. He spends his Sundays writing anonymous postcards against the regime and dropping them in the stairwells of city buildings. "Mother Don't give to the Winter Relief Fund! - Work as slowly as you can! - Put sand in the machines! - Every stroke of work not done will shorten the war!" The overriding and unanswerable question about the Nazis remains how did it happen? How did an entire nation allow themselves to be swept up in a tsunami of racial hatred and vengeance? We’re usually told there was nothing one individual could do to oppose this orchestrated regime of terror. The brilliant achievement of this novel is to show how two simple working class people did oppose the Nazis, but, from every practical point of view, in an utterly futile manner. The postcards they wrote – lacking any intellectual sophistication and often containing grammatical errors and misspellings - were almost all immediately handed in to the Gestapo. They terrified anyone who had the bad luck to stumble across one of them. They did no political or military damage whatsoever. This husband and wife were risking their lives for, what in practical terms, was an utterly futile commitment to a series of all but useless gestures. Anna herself questions the “smallness” of the gesture but Otto points out that, if caught, they will pay with their lives and no one can sacrifice more than her own life. Fallada’s great triumph is to show us that their actions, in the sphere of ethics, were far from futile. They acted in accordance with conscience, to preserve their moral integrity even though they knew that to preserve their self-respect would mean losing their lives. Otto’s moment of triumph comes at his (sham) trial when he stands up to the infamous real life Nazi judge most famously portrayed in the film Sophie Scholl. Although Otto doesn’t believe in God what he does is as much a religious as a political act. He is acting as though his every gesture is being monitored by a moral overseer.

  4. 5 out of 5

    İntellecta

    The author Hans Fallada, with native name Rudolf Wilhelm Friedrich Ditzen, is born on July 21st 1893 in Greifswald and he died on Feb 5th 1947 in Berlin. Hans Fallada manages with his book Every Man Dies Alone a great story during the time of the Nazi regime. The novel deals with the authentic case of the couple Otto and Elise Hampel, who were fated to die and to be executed for disintegration of the military force and preparation for high treason. The current events in this story are well The author Hans Fallada, with native name Rudolf Wilhelm Friedrich Ditzen, is born on July 21st 1893 in Greifswald and he died on Feb 5th 1947 in Berlin. Hans Fallada manages with his book “Every Man Dies Alone” a great story during the time of the Nazi regime. The novel deals with the authentic case of the couple Otto and Elise Hampel, who were fated to die and to be executed for “disintegration of the military force” and “preparation for high treason”. The current events in this story are well researched and it is indeed based on true events of the Quangel family, whose Gestapo file is the basis for this novel. This book is consequently touching and very atmospheric written and impresses me with its moving story. And considering that Fallada wrote the story only two years after the end of the gruesome chapter of German history, you can read the story even more astonishing. With that analytic mind of the writer, his distance and the emotional depth at the same time, he dissected the society. Consequently this book is an absolutely timeless masterpiece for me.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Steven Godin

    Hans Fallada has written an astonishing but ultimately tragic novel of German resistance to Nazism and the ever formidable Third Reich inferno, and I was stunned to learn it took something like 60 years for it's first English publication, and was penned in less than a month. Also Fallada could have escaped Germany; as a man whose books had been banned by the Nazis, and who had spent time in prison and psychiatric institutions as a result of a drug addiction, he should have got out. But if his Hans Fallada has written an astonishing but ultimately tragic novel of German resistance to Nazism and the ever formidable Third Reich inferno, and I was stunned to learn it took something like 60 years for it's first English publication, and was penned in less than a month. Also Fallada could have escaped Germany; as a man whose books had been banned by the Nazis, and who had spent time in prison and psychiatric institutions as a result of a drug addiction, he should have got out. But if his inability to tear himself away from his homeland took a fearsome personal toll, it also enabled him to convey with chilling precision the texture of life under fascism, the way that fear enters into every transaction and poisons every relationship. Alone in Berlin is a testament to the darkest days the 20th century had to offer, from beginning to end the book in drenched in fear, it grips hold, tight, and makes it perfectly clear, this is how it was, this was actually happening. But for a husband and wife living through WW2 in Berlin they refuse to be intimidated by a despicable regime, and after losing their son in battle, set out discreetly to make their own personal feelings well known to a greater audience, whilst creating wrath within the Gestapo. Otto and Anna Quangel are a hard working couple, laborious, unsociable, thrifty to the point of stinginess, and originally not hostile to the National Socialists. existing in a cold, shabby and colourless city. That changes when their beloved son, Ottochen, is killed while fighting in France. Otto, a foreman in a furniture factory that soon will be turned over to making coffins, is provoked into resistance. He spends his Sundays writing anonymous postcards attacking Hitler, before dropping them in the stairwells of city buildings. "Mother Don't give to the Winter Relief Fund! - Work as slowly as you can! - Put sand in the machines! - Every stroke of work not done will shorten the war!". This silent mission of defiance will lead a furious SS To put inspector Escherich on the case, with the added pressure of getting immediate results. Unfortunately for him It doesn't happen, always turning up a blind ally, with no traces leading to the suspect known as 'Hobgoblin'. The postcard campaign would march on and on, Otto would grow in both strength and confidence, before a spot of bad luck sends the walls crashing down around them. Finally witnessing the brutal penal code of Nazi Germany. But the Quangels only make up part of the story, the novel reaches out far deeper than just it's main theme. There are traces of unruly life scattered everywhere. Brawling, delirium tremens, clinics and drying-out establishments, country idylls, thieves, whores, blackmail, drugs, Nazi veterans in a haze of drink, struggling ordinary folk trying to put food on the table. Vivid is the world of sub-proletarian swindling that exploits and is exploited by the Nazis. It is remarkable that Fallada, just months before his death, could compose a long novel that, after an overcrowded beginning, advances so confidently to its conclusion. The Quangels neighbours all have considerable time spent on them during the first third, helping to paint a picture of just what life was like under such evil rule. In fact there are huge chunks of the novel where Anna and Otto disappear completely, switching attention to the inner workings of the Gestapo and the fearful people who happen to have a run-ins with them. Many would by chance find one of the postcards, and be immediately struck with foreboding and dread for handling them. I have not always taken to huge expansive novels in the past, Alone in Berlin has put my faith back in them. It was superbly written (translation by Michael Hofmann, top marks) never boring, seemed to fly by in a flash, and deserves all the praise it can get. The fact it was also exhaustingly draining on my soul, harrowing and intensely sad, doesn't stop it being up there with the best I have ever read. Even with the chaos of war around, standing face to face with the horror show of fascist Nazism, for some at least, courage and integrity can still exist, and never be broken. Through all the darkness that proceeds it, the novel still manages to end with a flickering light of hope. And Christ, does it ever need it.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Bettie

    Bettie's Books http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00vvwq0 Re-visit 2015 via R4x:Primo Levi's declaration that Alone in Berlin is "the greatest book ever written about German resistance to the Nazis" is bold and unequivocal. English readers have had to wait 60 years to explore the 1947 novel in which Otto Quangel, a factory foreman (Ron Cook) and his wife Anna (Margot Leicester) believe themselves morally obliged to take on the full might of the Nazis. When their son is killed "for Fuhrer and Bettie's Books http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00vvwq0 Re-visit 2015 via R4x:Primo Levi's declaration that Alone in Berlin is "the greatest book ever written about German resistance to the Nazis" is bold and unequivocal. English readers have had to wait 60 years to explore the 1947 novel in which Otto Quangel, a factory foreman (Ron Cook) and his wife Anna (Margot Leicester) believe themselves morally obliged to take on the full might of the Nazis. When their son is killed "for Fuhrer and Fatherland", the Quangels begin to write anonymous postcards, denouncing the war and the regime, and leave them on the stairwells of public buildings in Berlin. Over two years, the cards become their life. Trapped through a trivial mistake, by their nemesis, Inspector Escherich of the Gestapo (Tim McInnerny) they are put on trial for their lives, but find a strange freedom in a mocking defiance and then in a terrible silence. Alone in Berlin is a grim but heroic story told with laconic determination by a man who lived through the war in Berlin. It is about the quiet moral triumph of a seemingly inconsequential couple - it points to a courage which lay in the hearts of most true Germans, if only angst and overwhelming fear hadn't been allowed to gain the upper hand. Cast: Otto Quangel ..... Ron Cook Anna Quangel ..... Margot Leicester Escherich ..... Tim McInnerny Trudel Bauman ..... Jasmine Hyde Eva Kluge ..... Christine Kavanagh Enno Kluge ..... Ian Bartholomew Emil Borkhausen ..... Richard McCabe Frau Rosenthal ..... Joanna Munroe Inspector Rusch ..... John McAndrew Judge Fromm ..... Andrew Sachs Inspector Zott ..... Nickolas Grace Inspector Prall ..... Sam Dale Director: Eoin O'Callaghan.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Praj

    I should express thanks to Gudrun Burwitz, for if it was not for her ruthless news, I would not have found a brilliant book that stands for every belief which Ms. Burwitz expels from her very survival. Couple weeks ago, a news article describing Burwitz as the new Nazi grandmother made me explore further for its validity. Ms. Burwitz who at the ripe age of 81, still strives hard to support and nurture the most modern breed of Nazis ,keeping alive the malicious work and memory of her father I should express thanks to Gudrun Burwitz, for if it was not for her ruthless news, I would not have found a brilliant book that stands for every belief which Ms. Burwitz expels from her very survival. Couple weeks ago, a news article describing Burwitz as the new “Nazi grandmother” made me explore further for its validity. Ms. Burwitz who at the ripe age of 81, still strives hard to support and nurture the most modern breed of Nazis ,keeping alive the malicious work and memory of her father Heinrich Himmler, the chief authority behind the Gestapo operations. “The princess of Nazism ", as one of the historian terms Gudrun, is a despicable bitch loathing the essence of humanity through her narrowed National Socialist mindset. I would not identify her as a cultured human being, let alone a decent citizen of a wonderful country. However, she would have been felicitated for her abhorrence during the Third Reich. In 1940’s Gudrun Burwitz would have been a decent German; the ideal daughter of Deutschland. Not, Otto Quangel, though. He was a traitor, a criminal who committed treason against the Fuhrer. Otto Quangel was the ‘Hogoblin’, whose righteous words were feared by anyone who touched or read them. Otto and Anna Quangel was a working class couple. Like many other couples they were decent Germans. They obeyed their Fuhrer, you see. Their only son was serving in the army defending Hitler’s gruesome idea of legality of human race. They helplessly saw their neighbors being caught and shipped to concentration camps, while they silently sipped their watery coffee in sheer silence. They had to be tough in life. That was the common justification of every brutality the Gestapo police committed. Then one fine day, the death news of their only son arrived and Anna in a bursts of sorrow shrieked, “you and your Fuhrer!”. For Otto, a man of few words, Anna’s words weighed more than the misery of losing his child. The agony of guilt swelled up Otto’s moralistic integrity overwhelming his internal ethics. Otto proposed an obscure form of anti-Nazi warfare. He would write postcards with slogans against the ongoing atrocities. “Mother! The Fuhrer has murdered my son! Mother! The Fuhrer will murder your sons too; he will not stop till he has brought sorrow to every home.” Otto’s heroic resistance to the Nazi Regime magnified only through his personal tragedy. Did the death of his son made him courageous as now he had nothing to lose? Would Otto walk the mutinous path had his son arrived safely home? Hans Fallada who suffered through his own personal war as Rudolf Ditzen, brings the laudable efforts of Elise and Otto Hampel (1931), a real life couple who wrote anonymous postcards and leaflets to educate people about the ongoing atrocities ,informing to not buying Nazi papers and resist from participating in the war. The writing is trouble-free and the plot predictable; nevertheless, throughout the fictional portrayals of the Quangels, Fallada beautifully enlightens the misery of ordinary Germans who struggled from their own moral battles. Like, Eva Kungel who curses the fact of her birthing children who would eventually end up becoming monsters. The investigation of the Hobgoblin case and the defenselessness of Inspector Escherich expose the disintegration of humanness in a society where the nobleness of a feeble endeavor to capture terror was misplaced. Otto Quangel was the burning conscience of a guilt –ridden nation. He and Anna were among the few whom were “good corns” sown in the fields of weeds. Fallada signs off the book saying, “But we don’t want to end this book with death; dedicated as it is to life, life always triumphs over humiliation and tears, over misery and death”. Otto and Anna’s death was inevitable and their efforts although ineffectual were not insignificant. The Quangels did the unattainable and unfortunately their voices were lost among timid tones and pigheaded establishment, contrasting Wael Ghonim the cyber hero whose efforts instigated a revolution finally overthrowing Hosni Mubarak from supremacy.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

    Some books make you work for it. They're not easy, they're difficult, they're sprawling and slow and undecided. Until they're not. Until you feel the gigantic heart beating at its nervous center, its unabashed humanity and intelligence. It took me 250 pages to fully get into this one, and suddenly it took a turn and I was hooked like never before by its vital urgency. The characters were full-fleshed, fully realized, flawed and magnificent at the same time. The novel rushed towards its Some books make you work for it. They're not easy, they're difficult, they're sprawling and slow and undecided. Until they're not. Until you feel the gigantic heart beating at its nervous center, its unabashed humanity and intelligence. It took me 250 pages to fully get into this one, and suddenly it took a turn and I was hooked like never before by its vital urgency. The characters were full-fleshed, fully realized, flawed and magnificent at the same time. The novel rushed towards its inevitable conclusion with grace, the characters rushed towards their inescapable fate with a lucidity that leaves us in awe and teaches us a thing or two about the meaning of courage. The author wrote this novel in 24 days and never lived to see its publication. According to the amazing bonus documents at the end of the paperback edition, Hans Fallada based his novel on a true story and was wondering whether the real acts of resistance of Otto and Elise Hampel had had any meaning. Their lives, the ordinariness, the smallness, the awkwardness of their resistance have more meaning than they will ever know. Because it is absolutely essential for us, for all the generations that come after World War Two, to know that there was decency and good in some Germans in the face of evil. An unforgettable book.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    In this dark thriller, set in Berlin during World War II (1940-43), a working class couple, Otto and Anna Quangel, decide to protest and resist the Nazi regime after they learned that her only son was killed in action. Otto Quangel starts writing postcards with insults against Hitler, the Nazis, and the war and delivers them (unobserved) in office buildings in the hope that as many people as possible will read them and rethink, and thus perhaps bring about a speedy end to the dictatorship an In this dark thriller, set in Berlin during World War II (1940-43), a working class couple, Otto and Anna Quangel, decide to protest and resist the Nazi regime after they learned that her only son was killed in action. Otto Quangel starts writing postcards with insults against Hitler, the Nazis, and the war and delivers them (unobserved) in office buildings in the hope that as many people as possible will read them and rethink, and thus perhaps bring about a speedy end to the dictatorship – an approach, as it turns out, doomed to failure. It doesn’t take long before the Gestapo comes to know about this “crime of high treason” and start investigating and the noose is slowly tightening on the Quangels. The main storyline (there are quite a few others) is supposedly based on the real case of Otto and Elise Hampel who also wrote and distributed postcards and where executed in 1943. It took me quite a while before I became comfortable with this 700 page novel by Hans Fallada (my first one since I don’t know how long). The prose seemed unsophistіcated and disjointed at first and the characters not especially likeable (including the Quangels). But Fallada is a master when it comes to tightening the screw and a great storyteller. The overall mood in the novel is getting darker and darker, the desperation of many of the characters almost tangible. The only other novel I read in which the lives of ordinary people under a dictatorship is depicted in such an intensity would be Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. Those lives are determined by fear and hopelessness until the decision to resist. There are indeed some similarities between Otto Quangel and Winston Smith. While pondering what to tell about this book I chanced to find an article from The Guardian, titled “Hans Fallada’s Berlin - in pictures”, that shows some actual postcards written by Otto Hampel, like this one: (“A German / German people wake up! / We must free ourselves from the Hitlery”) or this one: (“Hitler has no wife / the butcher no sow / The baker no dough! / That is the third Reich / Hitler’s violence before right / brings us German people no peace! / Down with Hitler’s gang”) This small text has three spelling and one grammatical mistake (“hatt” instead of “hat”, “Teich” instead of “Teig”, “Dass” instead of “Das”, “deutsches” instead of “deutschem”) and I wonder if this is by design, of whether Otto Hampel just couldn’t do better. I tend to think the latter. This man, it is said, struggled to write and in the novel the fictional Otto Quangel needs a whole Sunday to write just two of those postcards. It brings tears to my eyes when I read of such a simple man and how he rebels against the rule with such simple means. It seems like a fight between David and Goliath but with David having no slingshot available. It’s a wonder it took the Gestapo so long to apprehend the so called “hobgoblin” (the internal name used for the postcard writer). But I guess even the means of the Gestapo were limited back then. It’s true that there were many people in Germany ready or even eager to denunciate their neighbors or co-workers, even family members, but keeping a low profile could help escaping the powers-that-be for a while. Today things would be much different. Nowadays the Nazis could easily fill the prisons overnight with dissidents. The data is readily available and only needs to be evaluated thanks to big-data analysis tools. But, of course, such a tyranny can not exist anymore in a civilized country, so it’s rather pointless to speculate about it. There is much violence presented in this book. Psychological and physical violence during interrogations by the Gestapo, in the torture cellars of the SS, in prisons and during trials at the so-called Volksgerichtshof (People’s Court). The suspects, prisoners, and defendants are all humiliated, beaten, and deprived of their dignity - but are they dehumanized, as one so often hears? I don’t think so. Dehumanized are the wielders of power, the policemen, the SS thugs and prison guards, the prosecutors and judges. Resistance against those non-humans, even if doomed to failure, wasn’t (and won’t be) futile but indeed mandatory if only to keep those gangsters occupied for a while. That’s one lesson to learn from Hans Fallada’s highly recommended book. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

  10. 4 out of 5

    brian

    after losing their son to the war, berlin residents otta and anna quangel launch a mini-revolt against the reich and fuhrer in the form of postcards around the city which speak subversive messages directly to the people. read in the age of twitter and viral videos, this seems, at once, awfully quaint and particularly profound. there was a time, i gather, when words mattered; when there didn't exist a barrage of partisan wingnuts flooding the zeitgeist with nonsense. but lemme skip the cranky after losing their son to the war, berlin residents otta and anna quangel launch a mini-revolt against the reich and fuhrer in the form of postcards around the city which speak subversive messages directly to the people. read in the age of twitter and viral videos, this seems, at once, awfully quaint and particularly profound. there was a time, i gather, when words mattered; when there didn't exist a barrage of partisan wingnuts flooding the zeitgeist with nonsense. but lemme skip the cranky old-man get-off-my-yard thing... the portrait of two old people launching a mini-revolution interests me far more than dudes with guns and bombs and shit. so it pains me to slap this with two stars. but, wow. has there ever been a book more in need of an editor? it's plodding and lumbering and filled with so much unnecessary bullshit it makes the reader feel like a kid forced to plow through four servings of steamed broccoli to get to that half-portion of chocolate pudding. it reads as if fallada drew up a rigid outline and just wrote out the shit. um, part of writing is knowing what to leave out -- the 'leaving out' ups the mystery quotient. y'ever hear the phrase, 'get into a scene at the last possible moment and get out at the earliest possible moment?' -- goose the reader, hans. smack her around. you don't need to tell us everything. skip the walk to the apartment, just land us right there and force your reader to make sense of it as it happens. and if you whisk us out of a scene before it ends... you leave us wondering. remember when don quixote raises his sword to hack away at some guy and cervantes just ends the chapter with the sword in the air? genius, man, genius. and coincidences? just stay away. fallada has a character who pisses off a nurse and so to stick it to him she rats him out as the card dropper. the gestapo quickly realize the guy couldn't possibly be the card-dropper but, so as to prove to their superiors that they're following leads, they tail the guy. we, the reader, know that the guy's foreman at work is otto quangel, the actual card dropper. ugh. it wasn't necessary, hans. you didn't need to do this. there are better ways to draw connections, to make things come together, to have all lines diverge on a common point. and there's lots of this kinda shit going on. too much of it. so... i made it 250 pgs deep. halfway. and dropped the book in frustration. and then i read that fallada wrote the book in 24 days. makes sense. given a few more months and a good editor this could've resembled the masterpiece they said it was.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Beata

    I value this novel for good psychological portrayal of ordinary German citizens who desperately tried to remain sane during years of insanity. Their silent struggle, both tragic and heroic, is supported by mutual devotion and love, which is all that is ultimately left. This is my favourite of Fallada's novels.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Chris_P

    Hans Fallada - Alone in Berlin When, 6 years ago, I saw Benigni's La Vita é Bella, it had such an impact on me, that during the final 30 minutes, I was feeling nauseous and trying to breathe as if a cannonball had landed on my chest. By the time the ending credits rolled, I remember, I was feeling as if the air had been sucked out of the room, so I ran to the balcony, hands on the railing, gasping for air and trying to find my composure again, while my girlfriend at the time was wondering whether Hans Fallada - Alone in Berlin When, 6 years ago, I saw Benigni's La Vita é Bella, it had such an impact on me, that during the final 30 minutes, I was feeling nauseous and trying to breathe as if a cannonball had landed on my chest. By the time the ending credits rolled, I remember, I was feeling as if the air had been sucked out of the room, so I ran to the balcony, hands on the railing, gasping for air and trying to find my composure again, while my girlfriend at the time was wondering whether it would be a good idea to call an ambulance. Fifteen pages in Fallada's Alone in Berlin and the effect was frighteningly similar. So much so, that I feared I would never be able to read even half of it. Thankfully, Fallada doesn't care about making the reader cry. He knew perfectly well that, when it comes to the Third Reich, the mere depiction of everyday life is enough to bring home the extreme atrocities of what must be the darkest era of mankind. Based on the real documents of the case of a married couple in Berlin, who had their own way of resistance during Hitler's reign, Fallada tells a story of courage, weakness and dread. I strongly believe that stories like this should never stop being read. Remembering our demons is the only way to keep fighting the darkness inside us. Forgetting them is keeping them safe in the closet and God knows they're always ready to break out of there at any given opportunity.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sam Quixote

    Berlin, 1940. While Hitler celebrates conquering France, a working class German couple Otto and Anna Quangel mourn the passing of their son, Ottochen, who fell in the fighting. Bitterly upset at the Fuhrer, they begin a quiet campaign of civil disobedience against his Third Reich, dropping hand-made postcards with anti-Nazi slogans printed on them across Berlin. The treasonous postcards are soon noticed and the Gestapo quickly take up the hunt for the culprits but how long can the Quangels Berlin, 1940. While Hitler celebrates conquering France, a working class German couple – Otto and Anna Quangel – mourn the passing of their son, Ottochen, who fell in the fighting. Bitterly upset at the Fuhrer, they begin a quiet campaign of civil disobedience against his Third Reich, dropping hand-made postcards with anti-Nazi slogans printed on them across Berlin. The treasonous postcards are soon noticed and the Gestapo quickly take up the hunt for the culprits – but how long can the Quangels evade capture? German writer Hans Fallada’s novel Alone in Berlin (published in America under the title Every Man Dies Alone) was written in just 24 days in 1946. Fallada (real name Rudolf Ditzen) passed away from heart failure, after decades of drug and alcohol abuse, mere months after completing it, and never saw its publication in 1947. Despite doing well in both East and West Germany in the ensuing years, the book wasn’t published in English until 2009 when it became a surprise bestseller. And it’s easy to see why – Alone in Berlin is an excellent novel! After the war, Fallada was given the Gestapo file on Otto and Elise Hampel and used their brave, but doomed, campaign of low-key opposition as the basis for his novel. Names are changed here and there, as are the way the characters meet their fates, and Fallada uses the novelist’s prerogative to dramatize his narrative, but the main characters are based on real people from the defiant Quangels to the tenacious and formidable Gestapo Inspector Escherich right down to the utterly despicable Nazi Judge Feisler towards the end. It is a very long read at nearly 600 pages and it takes a while to get going, so, if you’re going to give it a shot, be patient with it. I can also understand people’s criticisms about the narrative containing too many tangents. Fallada gives a lot of chapters to a couple of inessential side characters, deadbeats Enno Kluge and Emil Borkhausen, whose stories are only very tenuously connected to the Quangels’. It would definitely be a more streamlined novel had they been eschewed entirely. The same could be said of the story of the disgusting Nazi family, the Persickes, and their black-hearted SS son Baldur. Then again, if you just want the bare facts, go read the Wikipedia entry on the Hampels instead. Like any writer worth his salt, Fallada is more concerned with the art of fiction writing like creating atmosphere, characters, as well as a real feeling and understanding of this insane time to better understand the people involved and their actions. How else to grasp the overblown reaction to the Quangels’ small, almost quaint, postcards, upon which were written simplistic things along the lines of “Hitler is a liar!”, than to experience the fearful and oppressive atmosphere of life than through a sampling of its society? Also, the myriad stories were largely entertaining and I was rarely bored with anything I was reading, regardless of relevance to the primary plotline. More importantly the wider cast serves as a reminder that there were many German people who secretly hated and resisted Hitler and his war and that the Nazis were not representative of the country as a whole – as a Brit, I get the impression that all Germans from this time get unfairly tarred with the same brush. Those not in concentration camps could still easily become victims and prisoners themselves thanks to horribly corrupt and brutal institutions like the Gestapo making their everyday lives hell. All of which sounds like a thoroughly depressing read, no? It is and it isn’t. Because, though Fallada treats the subject matter with the utmost respect - not to mention the incidence of characters committing suicide, getting murdered, suffering miscarriages, and being executed! - it’s never overwhelmingly grim, melodramatic or sentimental so it doesn’t wear you down emotionally too much. Quite often it weirdly reads like a thriller and, after the initial slow start, it really picks up steam the deeper into it you go; as odd as it sounds given all that, I found it a very enjoyable read. Fallada was undeniably a talented writer and, though his character portraits of certain characters – particularly the Nazis – were one-dimensional, he importantly gives the main ones necessary nuance to stand out. Gestapo Inspector Escherich is an especially memorable and imposing figure whose own fate came as a shock - he strongly reminded me of Christoph Waltz’s Hans Landa from Inglourious Basterds. It has some fat to it that might do with some selective editing as some passages (the interrogation scenes) are a bit dull and slow but on the whole Alone in Berlin is a compelling and exciting novel that paints a vivid and startling image of life in wartime Germany at the very heart of the Third Reich. As well as cementing his own literary legacy with this book, Fallada ensured the courageous sacrifices of Otto and Elise Hampel live on through the years to be discovered by new generations of readers - a powerful story that deserves to be remembered. Alone in Berlin is a remarkable novel I’m glad to have read.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Lewis Weinstein

    This is a magnificent work of fiction, based on a true story. Fallada evokes emotion repeatedly as he tells the story of an elderly couple, making war against Hitler, knowing they can't win, but achieving a sense of nobility beyond that which most of us even aspire to. It is not a perfect book, as one would expect from a 500+ page novel written in 24 days and apparently never edited. There are extra characters and sub-plots that perhaps were not needed. But this is quibbling. It's a great read This is a magnificent work of fiction, based on a true story. Fallada evokes emotion repeatedly as he tells the story of an elderly couple, making war against Hitler, knowing they can't win, but achieving a sense of nobility beyond that which most of us even aspire to. It is not a perfect book, as one would expect from a 500+ page novel written in 24 days and apparently never edited. There are extra characters and sub-plots that perhaps were not needed. But this is quibbling. It's a great read which will stay with you long after the last page is turned.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    After having started 2011 with a couple of disappointing novels this one blew me away. Written in 1947 but set in the middle years of the war it follows a number of different characters ranging from the noble and kind through the naive and tragic to the utterly loathsome making a few stops at the fairly disgusting. All emotions are here and this reader certainly experienced quite a few of them himself. The hero and heroine,(Fallada speaks of people in their fifties or even late forties as being After having started 2011 with a couple of disappointing novels this one blew me away. Written in 1947 but set in the middle years of the war it follows a number of different characters ranging from the noble and kind through the naive and tragic to the utterly loathsome making a few stops at the fairly disgusting. All emotions are here and this reader certainly experienced quite a few of them himself. The hero and heroine,(Fallada speaks of people in their fifties or even late forties as being old,... this is quite sobering for a man careering towards his 50's but because of the power of this book i'll let it pass !!)an older married couple, having initially been supporters or at least not opponents of the regime in Germany are thrust into a space by the death of their only Son which forces them to reconsider and so begins their simple rebellion of writing annonymous postcards against the Nazis and leaving them in public places. The story is about their courage and struggles and the way their actions affect or involve others. There are side stories involving various other berliners, many of whom, without knowing it, live side by side with these unnoticed and unremembered rebels. The novel delves deep into the horror and injustice present I suppose in all oppressive and cruel dehumanizing regimes but Otto and Anna's refusal to be cowed is amazingly moving. There is even humour; the chapters in the court room would be ridiculous and farcical if it wasn't for the verdicts at the end but the defendants' responses are magnificently powerful. There is an enormous number of brutal and cruel deaths here but nobody reading a book set in Germany in 1942 can be surprised at that and yet the surprise for me is the fact that I was left feeling positive. There was horror, cruelty and monstrous injustice but the ability of love to overcome betrayal, rejection and seeming hopelessness are writ large here. The book revolves around relationships; the life giving sort of men and women in love, the positive affect that can be brought about in a life by the unconditional offering of acceptance, the renewal and recharging of hope because someone loves you and then on the negative side the opposite. How brutalized and rejected people can come to lose all human sympathy and begin to relate to others only as sources of income, entertainment or revenge. The over riding relationship in the background is perhaps that of parent to child. We see good parents mourning the death of a son, we see a good parent being devestated by the realization of her child's brutality, we see a longed for child lost, we see a nigh on demonic relationship between a son and a father who appear to have lost all sense of humanity and we see a brutalized child escaping to new hope with a new parent. Looking back i have used 'brutal' a lot, I apologize for that lack of vocabulary but i suppose that is my over riding image of the book but underpinning it is that other recurring word, love. Do read this book. it's extraordinary.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Book Riot Community

    This is an absolutely devastating novel about Otto and Anna Quangel, an older working-class German couple during World War II who wrote anti-Nazi messages on postcards and left them around Berlin. The two work on their own, not part of any larger resistance movement, and they have no way of knowing whether their messages are having any effect. It gets off to a slow start, as the Quangels start their work and the authorities begin to take notice and sift through various suspects to find the This is an absolutely devastating novel about Otto and Anna Quangel, an older working-class German couple during World War II who wrote anti-Nazi messages on postcards and left them around Berlin. The two work on their own, not part of any larger resistance movement, and they have no way of knowing whether their messages are having any effect. It gets off to a slow start, as the Quangels start their work and the authorities begin to take notice and sift through various suspects to find the culprits. But the later chapters, as the Quangels explain their actions and decide how to deal with the consequences are terrifying and wrenching. Based on the true story of Otto and Elise Hampel and first published in 1947, this book sends a powerful message about the importance of speaking up for good, regardless of the results. -Teresa Preston from The Best Books We Read In June 2016: http://bookriot.com/2016/06/29/riot-r...

  17. 4 out of 5

    Cara

    If I could have given this six stars, I would have. Maybe it was because I read it in a day, or maybe because it was based on a true story, I know I will not forget this book for a long time. Much WW2 literature is written from the view point of the English during the blitz, the French heading up the Resistence or the Nazi's wreaking evil. I think there is only Alone in Berlin and The Book Thief that I have read, which has given an insight into the dire situation that the ordinary Germans lived If I could have given this six stars, I would have. Maybe it was because I read it in a day, or maybe because it was based on a true story, I know I will not forget this book for a long time. Much WW2 literature is written from the view point of the English during the blitz, the French heading up the Resistence or the Nazi's wreaking evil. I think there is only Alone in Berlin and The Book Thief that I have read, which has given an insight into the dire situation that the ordinary Germans lived through to survive the War. The loss of their son fighting for Hitler, sets Otto & Anna on a path that once started upon, they cannot stop. It may seem a very trivial or weak way to fight out against the Fuhrer, by leaving postcards with anti-Nazi propoganda written upon them all around Berlin. It is however, an act or mission which they will pay for with their lives if caught. The other characters who play out alongside Otto & Anna are all brilliantly drawn. Defined by their bravery, evilness, cunning or fecklesness. None of them are superfluous to the story, even old Judge Fromm makes his final appearance worthy of his strange actions at the beginning. Other factors which made this book amazing for me alongside the fact that it was closely based on a true story, is that it was written in only twenty four days and was first released in 1947. It reads like a modern day thriller and the detail only serves to heighten the suspense and fear you have for the characters. A hefty volume, but definitely worth the investment of your time.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Whitaker

    I read this while I was also reading Robert Fisk's The Great War for Civilisation The Conquest of the Middle East . Bad idea. Very bad idea. Note to self: Reading two depressing books at the same time does not do good things to one's mood. There has been a surge of interest in the German experience of World War II, particularly the experience of those who tried to resist the war mongering. This novel joins works like The Song Before It Is Sung A Novel , Valkyrie The Plot To Kill Hitler , and I read this while I was also reading Robert Fisk's The Great War for Civilisation The Conquest of the Middle East . Bad idea. Very bad idea. Note to self: Reading two depressing books at the same time does not do good things to one's mood. There has been a surge of interest in the German experience of World War II, particularly the experience of those who tried to resist the war mongering. This novel joins works like The Song Before It Is Sung A Novel , Valkyrie The Plot To Kill Hitler , and Sophie Scholl The Real Story Behind German's Resistance Heroine . It was, however, written long before, in 1947 by Hans Fallada, and in that sense, can be regarded as almost a synchronous record. I am glad for this rehabilitation. It is always useful to remember that no group anywhere is a monolithic bloc and in this age of a resurgent right and rising Islamophobia, it is a lesson that is only too important to remember. What makes this book, for me, less a four or five star effort was its treatment of its characters. Good or bad fell into more or less easily defined camps. The Nazis were brutal bullies; the resisters were good hearted but ineffectual. I don't think life is that simple. The story touched on but did not delve into the fact that most people are just scared. Scared of being denounced, scared of dying, it's so much easier to just go along, to close your eyes to the horror around you. How many of us would do that? I'm pretty sure I would cave, especially if faced by torture and the deaths of my nearest and dearest. Worse. How many of us would be immune to The Lucifer Effect , that infamous Berkeley experiment where ordinary men off the street turned into brutal thugs when placed in charge of another group of men off the street and told to treat them like prisoners? The craven eager willingness to give in to calls to invade Iraq gives me little hope: when even in the "land of the free and the brave" dissenting voices squelch their nagging doubts what are the chances that we'll be better than that? What I liked about the book was its portrayal of ordinary people, holding fast to their beliefs. I'd like to believe that it's possible. I also liked how it raised the eternal question: what form should resistance take? Is it still necessary even if or even when it's utterly useless? This book says, and says resoundingly, "Yes!" I want to believe that. I really do. Oh, but how easy it would be to rationalize collaboration, to say, "I can do more good subverting the system from within."

  19. 5 out of 5

    Chrissie

    Having read through 185 pages and disliking every minute spent with the book, I am stopping. All of my criticisms remain. Fallada wrote this book in 24 days. It shows. IF SOMEONE WANTS TO READ THIS BOOK - CONTACT ME, MAYBE WE CAN SWAP bOOKS! P.S. I went back and reread the Kirkus review. I should have read the review more carefully. It is clearly stated that the characters are "archetypal to a fault". I recommend that carefully read Kirkus's review. Here follows a link to that review: Having read through 185 pages and disliking every minute spent with the book, I am stopping. All of my criticisms remain. Fallada wrote this book in 24 days. It shows. IF SOMEONE WANTS TO READ THIS BOOK - CONTACT ME, MAYBE WE CAN SWAP bOOKS! P.S. I went back and reread the Kirkus review. I should have read the review more carefully. It is clearly stated that the characters are "archetypal to a fault". I recommend that carefully read Kirkus's review. Here follows a link to that review: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/book.... It is found at the bottom of the page. I am on page 172 and I thought I just cannot stand reading more of this book...... then I went and looked at the book description and noted that 22 of my GR friends have this on the to-read shelves. Of the four of my friends who have read the book, one gave it 5 stars and three others gave it 4 stars. The average rating is 4.11 with 728 people having read the book! And I really hate it. Now I am thinking I simply must finsih reding it to give a complete report of my views. If I stop now, I haven't given the book a fair chance. So I will continue but the following is what I am currently thinking. Nobody can say that his author has a way with words. The writing is just plain ordinary. The characters are primarily despicable, so it is logical that their language is too. I must accept that. However I do not believe that despicable people have to be described by means of a flat text. Their is no sarcasm. There is no humor. There is no irony. The text is just plain flat. Fallada want to draw a picture of the fear that dragged all Germans down under Hitler's regime. We are to understand how the German people suffered too. I have no problem with that; they too suffered under Hitler. BUT there is NO discussion whatsoever about how originally the Germans in fact looked at Hitler as a person who would bring order to their life and economy. There is not a hint of this in the text. The primary couple in this book are trying to revolt in their own little way, and of course that is good, but but I thoroughly dislike the brutish way in which the huge majority of Germans are depicted. Some of these Germans were moral, good, just people. Other than the couple, I see none of these in this book. Every German official is depicted as a dumb clout. There is one jurist who tries to help a Jew and even he is drawn in negative contours. The fear prevalent in the German socity is made very clear. Most people didn't have the strength to fight this, but some did. So what am I saying? I am saying that the picture drawn of the German population is done without insight or nuance. That is what I think now. I will continue reading. Through page 86: What isit with me? This book has gotten rave reviews, and me - I keep falling asleep when I read it! I don't feel for any of the main protagonists and the writing is just plain ordinary. I hope it gets better. And here is a quote from page 86 to show you what I mean: "While Enno is trotting around the streets, timidly looking for his Tutti, Borkhausen has got up from his bed, gone to the kitchen, and savagely and broodingly eats his fill. Then Borkhausen finds a pack of cigarettes in the wardrobe, slips it in his pocket, and sits down at the table again, pondering gloomily head in hand." "Which is how Otti finds him when she returns from the shop. Of course she sees right away that he's helped himself to some food, and she knows he didn't have any smokes on him and traces the theft to her wardrobe. Apprehensive as she is, she starts an argument right away. 'Yes, that's my darling, a man who eats my food and snitches my cigarettes! Give them back right now. Or pay me back for them. Give me some money, Emil.'" Boring!

  20. 5 out of 5

    david

    Arendt wrote of the 'banality of evil.' Fallada's book is maybe about the futility of good, or the absence of cohesion amongst those who were not endangered directly. This WW2 story concerns non-Semitic Germans during this period. It melts into a pond of existentialism and it bespeaks another aspect of imperfect humanity.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Esteban del Mal

    Nazis: history's equivalent to that team that always gets trounced by the Harlem Globetrotters, the Washington Generals. Every time you see Nazis in a movie or read of Nazis in book, you know that they're gonna get theirs in the end. It's akin to something like culturally accepted wisdom to dismiss them as caricatures. But they aren't caricatures (Godwin's Law notwithstanding) -- they existed (DO exist), and for a while there it looked like they might even run things. The period of their Nazis: history's equivalent to that team that always gets trounced by the Harlem Globetrotters, the Washington Generals. Every time you see Nazis in a movie or read of Nazis in book, you know that they're gonna get theirs in the end. It's akin to something like culturally accepted wisdom to dismiss them as caricatures. But they aren't caricatures (Godwin's Law notwithstanding) -- they existed (DO exist), and for a while there it looked like they might even run things. The period of their ascendancy can hardly be over-examined, because we can't afford anything even remotely resembling it coming about again. Hans Fallada (the nom de plume of Rudolf Ditzen) wrote this book in an astonishing 24 days (about the same amount of time it took me to read it -- OY!) upon being released from an insane asylum after the German surrender in WWII. He did not live to see his novel published. I can't even begin to imagine what he experienced. You can see flashes of his talent throughout, but the whole lacks a certain consistency. The story is a fictionalized account of the true story of a working class couple that distributed postcards anonymously throughout Berlin urging Germans to revolt, sabotage and generally undermine the Nazis whenever possible. The couple attached great importance to the postcards, believing they were having the desired effect on the populace. Of course the postcards were generally reviled and went unheeded, only holding significance to their authors (think all of us here on Goodreads). Yet even when the couple is captured, learn that their postcard campaign accomplished nothing, and they are condemned to death, Falluda captures their dignity.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Paola

    This is a beautiful book painting the lives of common people living through the terrible years of Nazi Germany, written just after the war by somebody who actually lived in lived through those years. Fallada introduces us to carpenter Otto Quangel and his stay at home wife Anna in the first chapter, and we stay with these main protagonists for the whole book - but all around them many diverse specimens of humanity help paint what it was like. None of these characters is flat or stereotypical: This is a beautiful book painting the lives of common people living through the terrible years of Nazi Germany, written just after the war by somebody who actually lived in lived through those years. Fallada introduces us to carpenter Otto Quangel and his stay at home wife Anna in the first chapter, and we stay with these main protagonists for the whole book - but all around them many diverse specimens of humanity help paint what it was like. None of these characters is flat or stereotypical: even for the more unidimensional among them we do get to see how they perceive themselves and justify their own actions. Some of the chapters are painful to go through: the Gestapo interrogations (especially those by inspector Laub), the trials of the People's Court are torturing. Some of these descriptions seem out of proportion, then you think that Fallada himself experienced interrogations and prison, and it gets more blood curling. As one would expect, we see depicted the struggle between the pure evil of Nazism and the fundamental decency of those who could simply not debase themselves, that could not be satisfied with trying to get by since nobody can win on his own. A stubborness in dignity, summarised in an exchange between Quangel and and Sr. Richard: Would you rather live for an un­just cause than die for a just one? There is no choice—not for you, nor for me ei­ther. It’s be­cause we are as we are that we have to go this way In spite of this I find myself disagreeing with Geoff Wilkes in the afterword, when he writes that "whereas Hanna Aredt's Eichmann in Jerusalem (1936) dissects and analyzes "the banality of evil", Hans Fallada's Every Man Dies Alone comprehends and honors the banality of good". True, some of the actions of passive resistance (which often translated in a death sentence) are born of a set of accidental circumstances and then metamorphose in stronger acts of defiance almost on their own, as if extra cogs thrown into a mechanism were somehow slotted into place. And yes, once these ordinary people cross the path of the Gestapo, nothing much can help them (as is the case of Enno Kluge, Trudel and Karl). But these people, who lived in absolute terror of putting a foot wrong unwittingly, were very aware of the terrible consequences of even the meekest act of resistance: crossing knowingly the threshold of the 'unlawful' required a great deal of courage. Having read this book without knowing anything about Fallada, couple of times I found him heavy handed, excessive somehow in uderscoring the point just made: for instance, after a prisoner commits suicide while in the care of a priest In con­se­quence of this sui­cide, it was the prison chap­lain, Friedrich Lorenz, who was sus­pended from duty, rather than the drunken doc­tor. Charges were laid against the priest. Be­cause it was a crime and the abet­ting of a crime to en­able a pris­oner to put an end to his own life: only the state and its ser­vants were sup­posed to have that pre­rog­a­tive. This is clear enough, then Fallada feels the need to add If a de­tec­tive pis­tol-whips a man so badly that his skull is frac­tured, and if a drunken doc­tor al­lows the in­jured man to die, both are an ex­am­ple of due process. Whereas if a priest fails to hin­der a sui­cide, if he al­lows a pris­oner to ex­er­cise his or her will—that will is sup­posed to have been taken away—then he has com­mit­ted a crime and must be pun­ished. As a piece of literature, this second paragraph seems unnecessary. But considering this novel was written in about a month, just over one year and a half after the fall of Hitler, this is just raw rage from a survivor. It is a beautifully written book, and one that will stay with me for a long time.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Meaghan

    This has got to be the best book I've read in months, at least. Certainly the best novel. I had been waiting for it for months (the library had only one copy and others were ahead of me), and it was worth it. I sat down and read the whole book in a single day. The premise is excellent -- a perfectly ordinary, working-class German couple carries on their own private campaign of resistance by dropping postcards with anti-Nazi messages. I knew this was going to be a great story. But even more This has got to be the best book I've read in months, at least. Certainly the best novel. I had been waiting for it for months (the library had only one copy and others were ahead of me), and it was worth it. I sat down and read the whole book in a single day. The premise is excellent -- a perfectly ordinary, working-class German couple carries on their own private campaign of resistance by dropping postcards with anti-Nazi messages. I knew this was going to be a great story. But even more impressive was the author's characterization. He has the ability to make the most minor characters seem real, and altogether human -- there are no heroes in this book, not even among the resisters. And the book has many characters and many storylines all going on at once, but Fallada never once seems to lose track of anything and all the plot threads are woven seamlessly together. The afterword tells of Fallada's life (basically one disaster after another) and of the real-life couple who inspired the book. It was a useful addition, but the story can stand on its own. All I can say is: WOW. I will definitely recommend this book to all my friends. I wrote about the real-life people behind this novel, Otto and Elise Hampel, in one of my many guest entries on the blog Executed Today.

  24. 4 out of 5

    booklady

    October 31, 2016: Just learned from my friend, Kerstin, there is now a movie about this book, Alone in Berlin. I am not surprised. This is an amazing book. Dark, DARK, Dark, but so appropriate for this age we are living in ... preparatory, prophetic. Into our culture of death which teaches that nothing really matters comes a book and film which teaches the opposite; even our smallest little protests against this grinding machine COUNT. We count. Each and every one of us, from the very smallest October 31, 2016: Just learned from my friend, Kerstin, there is now a movie about this book, Alone in Berlin. I am not surprised. This is an amazing book. Dark, DARK, Dark, but so appropriate for this age we are living in ... preparatory, prophetic. Into our culture of death which teaches that nothing really matters comes a book and film which teaches the opposite; even our smallest little protests against this grinding machine COUNT. We count. Each and every one of us, from the very smallest unwanted embryo at the beginning of life to the forgotten soul clinging to life in some prison hole or hospital. We are all precious and every single thing we do, every hair on our head, cell of our bodies, though it may seem alone and forgotten is not. On the contrary, we are held dear beyond our wildest imaginings by Him Who IS. Sep 04, 2013: Hans Fallada’s Every Man Dies Alone is the fictionalized account of Otto and Elise Hampel’s unsuccessful localized propaganda effort against the Third Reich during World War II. When the author, Fallada first read about the Hampels’ unspectacular and unsophisticated ‘postcard campaign’ immediately after the war, he was not impressed. Of the 287 hand-written and badly spelled cards, 265 were immediately turned into the Nazi authorities. Compared to (say) von Stauffenberg and his associates’ attempted coup d’état in July 1944, or ... the literate and cultivated leaflets written by the university-educated dissidents of the “White Rose” group in 1942-43, their story was singularly uninspiring. And yet, Fallada's understated telling of the Hampels’ quiet, miserable, even hopeless stand against the 20th Century Killing Machine is compelling. Near the end of the book we are given the reason for everything (including the book's name) by an afterthought character, a prison cellmate of Otto, an orchestra director, who explains to Quangel (the fictional name of Otto Hampel) that his actions far from being futile were very meaningful, “As it was, we all acted alone, we were caught alone, and everyone of us will have to die alone. But that doesn’t mean we are alone, Quangel or that our deaths are in vain. Nothing in this world is done in vain, and since we are fighting for justice against brutality, we are bound to prevail in the end.” Fallada was the nom de plume for Rudolf Ditzen, a man who was a composite of good and bad, sometimes working with and sometimes working against ‘the system’ – like his fictional and fictionalized characters. Every Man Dies Alone is one of the most challenging books I’ve read in a long time, which explains why I offered the life raft of the quote above. It is an uphill read as you are fighting evil angry oppression alongside fearful individuals, turned against each other by circumstance, personality and weakness. In addition to the Quangels’, Fallada has created/woven a cast of other characters, some real/altered and some invented: their dead son’s former girlfriend and her associates; residents of their apartment complex; the inspectors investigating their case; family members, suspects, business associates and finally those met in prison. Fleshing out the novel adds interest but also seems to multiply despair … at least initially. Amazing story and yes, ‘nothing in the world is done in vain’! ====================================== Finished it late last night or early this a.m. I'm so glad I stuck with it, although I was wondering. Review to follow. Need some time... Have been stopping and starting this book, reading other lighter books in between. Not sure if that is 'cheating' or helping me some perspective...?

  25. 5 out of 5

    Nigeyb

    Hans Fallada was all but forgotten outside Germany when this 1947 novel, Alone in Berlin (US title: Every Man Dies Alone), was reissued in English in 2009, whereupon it became a best seller and reintroduced Hans Fallada's work to a new generation of readers. I came to this book having read More Lives Than One: A Biography of Hans Fallada by Jenny Williams, which was the perfect introduction into the literary world of Hans Fallada. Alone In Berlin really brings alive the day-to-day hell of life Hans Fallada was all but forgotten outside Germany when this 1947 novel, Alone in Berlin (US title: Every Man Dies Alone), was reissued in English in 2009, whereupon it became a best seller and reintroduced Hans Fallada's work to a new generation of readers. I came to this book having read More Lives Than One: A Biography of Hans Fallada by Jenny Williams, which was the perfect introduction into the literary world of Hans Fallada. Alone In Berlin really brings alive the day-to-day hell of life under the Nazis - and the ways in which people either compromised their integrity by accepting the regime, or, in some cases, resisted. The insights into life inside Nazi Germany are both fascinating and appalling. The venom of Nazism seeping into every aspect of society leaving no part of daily existence untouched or uncorrupted. Alone In Berlin is also a thriller, and the tension starts from the first page and mounts with each passing chapter. I can only echo the praise that has been heaped on this astonishingly good, rediscovered World War Two masterpiece. It's a truly great book: gripping, profound and essential. 5/5 POSTSCRIPT (3 July 2017)... I've just discovered that Every Man Dies Alone (USA title) / Alone in Berlin has been made into a film.... Alone in Berlin is a 2016 war drama film directed by Vincent Pérez and written by Pérez and Achim von Borries, based on the 1947 fictionalized novel Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada. The novel's characters Otto and Anna Quangel are based on the real lives of Otto and Elise Hampel. When their son dies in France, the couple start writing postcards to urge people to protest against Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime. The film stars Emma Thompson, Brendan Gleeson, and Daniel Brühl. Principal photography began on 27 March 2015 in Berlin. It was selected to compete for the Golden Bear at the 66th Berlin International Film Festival. It's just been released in the UK and, according to one of my favourite critics, Mark Kermode, it's pretty damn fine too.... http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p057f25p Any film that features Emma Thompson and Brendan Gleeson automatically has quite a lot to recommend it. I look forward to seeing it given how much I loved the book.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Meike

    (Available in English as "Alone in Berlin" - a truly stupid title, the German original "Everyone dies on his own" is much more apt.) Fallada wrote this text in only four weeks while he was treated in the psychiatric ward of the Charité Berlin; around two months later, in February 1947, he died of his addiction to morphine and alcoholism (remarkably, the novel features two doctors who try to numb themselves with morphine because they are harassed by the Nazis). "Jeder stirbt für sich allein" is (Available in English as "Alone in Berlin" - a truly stupid title, the German original "Everyone dies on his own" is much more apt.) Fallada wrote this text in only four weeks while he was treated in the psychiatric ward of the Charité Berlin; around two months later, in February 1947, he died of his addiction to morphine and alcoholism (remarkably, the novel features two doctors who try to numb themselves with morphine because they are harassed by the Nazis). "Jeder stirbt für sich allein" is supposed to be the first novel about the resistance against the Third Reich that was written by a German writer who did not emigrate during the Nazi regime. And this is the story Fallada tells: When Otto and Anna Quangel, a working class couple from Berlin, lose their only son on the battlefield, they decide to stand up against the Nazi regime, although their means are limited: They start to secretly write and distribute postcards with anti-fascist messages (a couple like this really existed: Otto and Elise Hampel were executed in 1943). Around this core story, Fallada opens up a panorama of Berlin citizens during WW II: The destiny of a Jewish couple, factory workers who help to keep the war machine going, families who lose their sons and women who lose their husbands, neighbors who spy on each other, poor children and kids who make it to elite Nazi schools (the infamous Napolas), the power of the Gestapo (secret state police), violence and greed that reign freely once the rule of law is abolished - and a climate of constant, all-encompassing fear. In a clever narrative twist, the house in which Otto and Anna live becomes a miniature version of the Third Reich, violently showing the disgusting dynamics behind the whole state. Fallada employs a very simple language, so the book and his message can easily be understood by everyone. His characters are not well-rounded, but rather types. Nevertheless, the psychological dynamics he displays are highly convincing. Fallada's language is most impressive when he opposes the typical Berlin dialect to the language patterns the Nazis employed (both are easily recognisable for every German reader). Smoothly, the author shifts between an omniscient perspective to the point of view of individual characters, so while some parts of the texts are clearly a little lengthy, these shifts help to keep the reader's attention. I did not see the 2016 movie with Emma Thompson that also featured Daniel Brühl (why is he so popular abroad? That guy is the Daniel Kehlmann of acting, and this is not meant to be a compliment!), but you know what? Just read the book. It is a true classic.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jonfaith

    They had failed to understand that there was no such thing as private life in wartime Germany. No amount of reticence could change the fact that every individual German belonged to the generality of Germans and must share in the general destiny of Germany, even as more and more bombs were falling on the just and unjust alike. I found this novel to be incredibly moving. It did lag in the middle when the attention drifts from the grieved couple to myriad shitbags. I found the development of the They had failed to understand that there was no such thing as private life in wartime Germany. No amount of reticence could change the fact that every individual German belonged to the generality of Germans and must share in the general destiny of Germany, even as more and more bombs were falling on the just and unjust alike. I found this novel to be incredibly moving. It did lag in the middle when the attention drifts from the grieved couple to myriad shitbags. I found the development of the city's underbelly a bit of a distraction but one very necessary ultimately to the larger context. I tend to agree with the critical response that Fallada succeeded in capturing the atmosphere of totalitarianism. A quiet couple in 1940 Berlin learn of their son's being killed in action. These quiet people decide that action is imperative. Fallada based the novel on some real events and it has recently been adapted into an English-language film. I was aware of the novel's narrative arc but found myself needing the long-form revelation. I was impressed with the psychology revealed as well as the decision to be vivid. This isn't for the squeamish or the sentimental.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    Hans Fallada is the pen name of German writer Rudolf Ditzen. Starting his writing career in the 1920s, Fallada continued to write through the fall of the Weimar Republic, the Great Depression, and the rise of the Nazi Party to its rule of Germany. He stayed in Germany after the Nazis took power and managed to survive the war becoming an author of some note in Soviet-occupied Germany after the war. Every Man Dies Alone looks at one couple's small act of resistance to the Nazis during the war. At Hans Fallada is the pen name of German writer Rudolf Ditzen. Starting his writing career in the 1920s, Fallada continued to write through the fall of the Weimar Republic, the Great Depression, and the rise of the Nazi Party to its rule of Germany. He stayed in Germany after the Nazis took power and managed to survive the war becoming an author of some note in Soviet-occupied Germany after the war. Every Man Dies Alone looks at one couple's small act of resistance to the Nazis during the war. At the same time, Fallada creates a detailed depiction of life in Berlin in the early 40s and at the time of the most success of the Third Reich. Every Man Dies Alone is based on the true story of Elise and Otto Hampel, a normal, working class couple who wrote and left numerous anonymous anti-Nazi cards and letters around Berlin. For this small act of resistance, they were hunted by the Berlin Police and the Gestapo. After their capture and "trial" before the infamous Judge Roland Freisler, President of the Volksgericht and representative of the Ministry of Justice at the Wahnsee Konferenz, they were executed for treason. Fallada takes this history and tells the story of his characters, Anna and Otto Quangel, who, after the death of their only son combat in France, take up a similar campaign of resistance. There are numerous other well-drawn character such as Inspector Escherich, the Gestapo detective who lead the hunt for the Quangels and who himself is brutalized by the Gestapo and the SS for his failure to quickly bring the case to a successful conclusion. There are a number of other characters who resist the Nazi regime in their own small, and largely unsuccessful ways. Fallada portrays the brutality of the Nazi regime and its members in detail, showing how the Party worked to dehumanize its members to lead lives of unthinking, fearful obedience. In the face of this, the small acts of resistance seem almost senseless given that they could have no chance of a meaningful effect on overturning or even significantly disrupting the systems created by the Nazis or the war effort itself. But Every Man Dies Alone is not a book about that. It is a book about how an individual maintains his own humanity and character in the face of such a regime. The answer it gives is that you maintain by just resisting, by not cooperating. One of the most important lines in the book, I think, is this. After being told that by her husband that his plot is to just leave anonymous, subversive postcards around Berlin, Anna Quangel is disappointed that the scheme, for which they're likely to be executed is not grander or more remarkable. She then comes to this realization: He might be right: whether their act was big or small, no one could risk more than his life. Each according to his strength and abilities, but the main thing was, you fought back. This is a powerful line of thought.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Greg Brozeit

    I cant remember having read anything more compelling in my life. This is the perfect novel. The plot weaves the experiences of a variety of characters to provide a disturbingly accurate depiction of life in a totalitarian state. The two primary characters, Otto and Anna Quangel, receive a letter informing them that their son, a soldier in the German Wehrmacht, has been killed in the invasion of France. The Quangels later decide to engage in a secret plan to inform Germans about the reality of I can’t remember having read anything more compelling in my life. This is the perfect novel. The plot weaves the experiences of a variety of characters to provide a disturbingly accurate depiction of life in a totalitarian state. The two primary characters, Otto and Anna Quangel, receive a letter informing them that their son, a soldier in the German Wehrmacht, has been killed in the invasion of France. The Quangels later decide to engage in a secret plan to inform Germans about the reality of Nazism—leaving anonymous messages on postcards in places throughout Berlin—a decision that sets off a series of events and an intense manhunt that demonstrates what life was really like in the Third Reich. The characters include neighbors like a distraught Jewish woman, a retired prosecutor, a family of hard-core Nazis, a small time criminal informer and his sometime accomplice. Others range from a somewhat sympathetic Gestapo investigator, a prison chaplain based on the Tegel prison pastor Harald Poelchau and a Nazi judge, Feisler, based on the notorious Roland Freisler. Hans Fallada (pseudonym of Rudolf Ditzen) was a troubled writer who remained in Germany during the Third Reich—a decision that was condemned by Thomas Mann. But his story is so believable because only one who lived through the day-to-day reality of Nazi Germany could have described the incongruities and gray areas that everyone experienced. The moral of the story is that resistance, whatever its form, preserves that dignity and worth of humanity in an inhuman world. Fallada’s story is loosely based on a real-life couple. He wrote the book in less than four weeks in November 1946. He died as a result of various addictions on February 5, 1947. This edition, which restored a number of edits from the original published edition, came out 60 years later. Although we Americans are prone to hyperbole and love to rank everything, I won’t write that it was best book I’ve ever read. But I do have a hard time naming any that are its equal. Five stars don’t seem adequate for this truly majestic, humanistic novel.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jess

    This lumbering golem of a novel is a tragically prime example of how powerfully moving source material can turn to complete and utter mush in the hands of the wrong storyteller. Im aware that I am likely to be censured for this rating, not simply because it lurks amid a plethora of glowing reviews, but because this novel is based on the truth, and what a horrific truth. Perhaps the only vaguely compelling aspect of Alone in Berlin is its foundation in truth. Anything even vaguely biographical can This lumbering golem of a novel is a tragically prime example of how powerfully moving source material can turn to complete and utter mush in the hands of the wrong storyteller. I’m aware that I am likely to be censured for this rating, not simply because it lurks amid a plethora of glowing reviews, but because this novel is based on the truth, and what a horrific truth. Perhaps the only vaguely compelling aspect of Alone in Berlin is its foundation in truth. Anything even vaguely biographical can be so challenging to review; it’s someone’s life afterall. That being said, simply because a work is inspired by a true story does not in any way, shape or form render it untouchable or immune to criticism. So for anyone poised to attack me with that specious argument: your attempts will be in vain. Fallada wrote this novel in 24 days, which in itself says a lot. The rest is made abundantly clear by the quality of the writing; it’s far too crude to masquerade as sensibility or economy. And no, prose doesn’t necessarily need embellishments... provided the plot or characterisation compensates, but combine the amateur writing style, dry exposition and meandering plot, then you’re in for a bland and bloodless novel. Shit, this needs a decent editor. Fallada’s evocation of Berlin at war lacks insight and nuance - instead, this is a flat, turgid and sexist tract with little literary merit or engaging content. For a tale of atrocities and German resistance, Alone in Berlin is shockingly sedate. This aspect in itself is not necessarily a criticism, but take into account the fact that the novel is marketed as an ‘utterly gripping’ thriller, then it most certainly flourishes into one. The plot lacks any shade of suspense or tension and it never achieves anything. The narrative is dull, less than engaging (I skim-read from the halfway mark) and thronging with horrible people, archetypal to a fault. There is no redemption, no hope, and nothing to keep a reader invested. Nothing commands the page - the novel has very little authority. Despite the awful events that fittingly befall the awful characters, the story betrays nor evokes not even a twitch of emotion. It is not stoic; the characters are incompetent and fail to preserve any shred of dignity. There is no wisdom or didactic statement imparted to the reader in light of these acts of resistance; it never felt like a sincere tribute to those individuals who risked everything to exert autonomy. Doesn’t that bely the entire interest of the novel? So disappointing. Not even a diamond in the rough, although a thorough editor could probably have salvaged something. This was, quite simply, the thriller that failed spectacularly to thrill.

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