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Alone in Berlin (Penguin Hardback Classics) Hardcover – 26 Feb 2009


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; First English Edition edition (26 Feb. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 184614082X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846140822
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 3.8 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (407 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 217,347 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'An unrivalled and vivid portrait of life in wartime Berlin'. - Philip Kerr
-- Philip Kerr

A powerful portrayal of the corrosive paranoia engendered by such all-pervading tyranny...hammered out with such passion that it is painfully convincing.
-- Caroline Moore, Standpoint, March 2009

A signal literary event of 2009 has occurred...to read [Alone in Berlin], Fallada's testament to the darkest years of the 20th century, is to be accompanied by a wise, somber ghost who grips your shoulder and whispers into your ear: `This is how it was. This is what happened.'
-- Liesl Schillinger, New York Times Book Review, March 1, 2009

A terrific literary find....the first English translation of this fast-moving, important and astutely deadpan thriller not only fills in more of the story about ordinary life in wartime Germany, it will alert readers to yet another European classic now available to a wider readership. -- Eileen Battersby, Irish Times, February 21, 2009

An unrivalled and vivid portrait of life in wartime Berlin.
-- Philip Kerr

An utterly gripping thriller and subtle account of the moral status of Germans under the Nazis....A revelatory text. I urge you to read it.
-- Justin Cartwright, Sunday Telegraph, March 1, 2009

Fallada's prose...has a journalistic clarity and a thriller writer's pace. -- The Times review by Ian Brunskill, 6th Feb 2009

Hans Fallada's Alone in Berlin is one of the most extraordinary and compelling novels ever written about World War II. Ever. Fallada lived through the Nazi hell, so every word rings true - this is who they really were: the Gestapo monsters, the petty informers, the few who dared to resist. Please, do not miss this.
-- Alan Furst

This is an extraordinary novel
-- Allan Massie, Scotsman, October 14, 2009

This novel is far more than a literary thriller. Fallada's vivid novel gives us the true, concentric circles of lives in a Berlin apartment block under totalitarianism. Michael Hofmann should be congratulated for bringing this work with all its immediate clarity to the English language.
-- Hugo Hamilton, Financial Times, March 23, 2009

Review

An unrivalled and vivid portrait of life in wartime Berlin.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Self-help junkie VINE VOICE on 28 Sept. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm grateful for this book. For many years I've wondered: "How on earth did the Nazis get away with it - and why didn't ordinary Germans stand up against them?" This book helps me to understand how a regime such as the Third Reich effectively removes the possibility of resistance by creating an atmosphere of terror and mistrust at every level of society. The two main things which stand out from this book for me - which I have to warn you is a truly harrowing read - are how fear corrodes our ability to resist; and the absolute brutality which existed then and presumably still exists across the world. The scenes of abuse and torture are really awful - I found myself thinking "Can this really be true? Surely he's overexaggerating here!" - but instinctively knowing too that he was simpy telling the truth. I have to admit that my own courage and willingness to resist would vanish pretty quickly in the face of such depraved brutality. It is perhaps revealing that Death becomes the one bright point in the book: the ability to kill oneself, to remove oneself from such brutality becomes a freedom to cherish. That's how dark it all is/was.

A sobering read but one that I think is necessary to remind ourselves of just how awful conditions were in Germany during this regime. There was no glamour, no sense of superiority - at least not for the mass of people. Just grinding fear, mistrust, and despair.
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164 of 166 people found the following review helpful By D. P. Mankin TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 24 April 2009
Format: Hardcover
This book grew on me more and more as I read it. At first I had to adjust to some of the phraseology - whether this is because it was written by a German in the 1940s or is the result of the translation I don't know. But what was remarkable about it was the way in which the characters came alive. There is a satirical edge to a couple of the characters but this works incredibly well as a counterpoint to the incidents of violence which provide a sinister insight into the minds of the Gestapo. There is no gratuitous violence as such; rather the story focuses on psychological anguish. In the last part of the book the humanity and sense of paranoia felt by the central characters (and replicated by those who find the 'postcards' in the story) is juxtapositioned with the inhumanity of the Gestapo. By the time I had finished the novel I felt as if I had been on a remarkable journey into Nazi Germany told through the lives of a small group of characters. Do read this novel.
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214 of 224 people found the following review helpful By Gilgamesh on 1 Mar. 2009
Format: Hardcover
This novel is nearly impossible to put down. It's an incredibly moving, gripping story based around an ordinary couple who, after the death of their only son at the front, decide to resist the Nazi regime - if only in a small, mainly symbolic way. For me its power comes from the rough, raw style - it was written in just a few short weeks shortly after the War - and the unfamiliar yet utterly believable events that eventually overtake each character. Subtly translated by the award-winning Michael Hofmann, it's a novel not to be missed if you've any interest at all in what it must have been like to live through the War in the heart of Germany.
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108 of 113 people found the following review helpful By JuliaC VINE VOICE on 7 Jun. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I had never heard of this novel until a few weeks ago, but it is taking book lovers by storm across the world. It is not a new book, it was published in 1947, tragically just after the author's death. But it was translated again into English last year, and I can't recommend it highly enough.

The events, based on a true story, take place in Berlin under the grip of Nazi rule. One elderly couple, Otto and Anna Quangle, learn of the death of their only son fighting in the German army, and the futility of this ending changes something inside Otto. He starts to resist the Nazi regime in a very low level but profound way. He writes postcards with subversive messages on them, asking people to question what the Nazi's are doing and what they are telling the people. He leaves them in apartment blocks and offices on stairwells for random strangers to find. He performs this task alone at first, but later his wife Anna finds out and joins him in his mission.

The Gestapo are infuriated by this postcard campaign, which goes on for over two years, and leaves them floundering in the dark looking for the culprit. The novel is a great thriller as the police try to track down who is daring to oppose the Nazi regime in such an infuriating way, and their inept attempts at investigating the crime make both gripping and amusing reading. What is remarkable for me about this book is that is shows just what a chilling effect the terrifying Nazi dictatorship had on ordinary people, who had a range of reactions to it, from enthusiastic embrace, to indifference, to resistance and defiance. And the patchwork quilt of characters that Fallada weaves into the story is rich and extensive. The tentacles of fear reach into the hearts of families and communities, making people react in gross and frightening ways.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By glowworm on 7 May 2010
Format: Paperback
I've read my fair share of books recounting the many harships endured by the Jews but this is the first that I've read detailing acts of resistance from the citizens of Berlin. Even though the Quangels' resistance might seem small and futile from the get-go, the reader wills them to succeed and believe, like Anna, that they will not be caught. This isn't just another book about WW2, it's definitely worth reading and comes highly recommended!

I was even more impressed to learn that Alone in Berlin is based on an actual SS file that was handed to Hans Fallada after he was released from a Nazi insane asylum at the end of WW2. This superb book took him only 24 days to write but yet he didn't live long enough to see it published.
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