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Ausländer Paperback – 4 Jan 2010


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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (4 Jan. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747594198
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747594192
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 79,191 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

`Auslander should prove to be a breakthrough into the top league for Dowswell, a hugely impressive thriller set during the Second World War ... There will be many adults sneakily borrowing this from their children' -- The Bookseller, February 2009

`Ausländer is a superlative, at times almost agonisingly compelling, piece of historical fiction ... The climactic escape to freedom is pure muck-sweat tension'
The Financial Times -- The Financial Times

`An exceptional novel, persuasive in its details, with an utterly compelling story and powerful message' -- Anne Poole, Books Quarterly, January 2009

`This wartime adventure story is thrilling and chilling, a thought-provoking tale that looks at the effects of fascism on society and the family'
-- Big Issue, Scotland

`An unusual war-story of intense excitement'
--School Librarian

`A good historical novel that opens up new layers of understanding for the reader: offering fresh perspectives on something you thought you knew a bit about; beaming a bright light onto some of history's darkest moments, revealing a panoply of unexpected, neglected characters . . . A gripping read' --NATE Classroom Issue 11

`Extremely powerful and compelling. I loved it because it's not the usual WWII book that one would expect'
--The Teacher

Review

`An exceptional novel, persuasive in its details, with an utterly compelling story and powerful message'
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By cbd on 8 Oct. 2009
Format: Hardcover
A brilliant story of danger and survival in Nazi Germany.

Polish orphan Peter is 'Volksdeutscher' - of German blood, and looks the Aryan ideal with his blond hair and blue eyes. He is sent to Berlin, where he is invited to live with the Kaltenbach family. He soon realises that he does not share Professor and Frau Kaltenbach's pro-Nazi ideals. At first he thinks that he is alone in not accepting the Nazi ideology that's all around him, but gradually he realises that he is not alone. He falls in love, and becomes involved with the highly-dangerous anti-Nazi free-thinkers, which includes assisting Jews that have gone underground. He also discovers, on more than one occasion, that you can't always judge someone by first impressions.

The story vividly portrays the dangers of wartime Berlin. Peter appears to be the ideal Hitler-Jugend member; obedient, brave and in good physical health. Underneath, though, he never loses his compassion and generosity of spirit. The story doesn't flinch from giving details of what might (and frequently did) happen to those judged dispensible by the Nazis, but doesn't dwell on the cruelty. This would be a great "background" read for those interested in discovering more about this period of history. It is also ideal for demonstrating that not all Germans were Nazis - a common misconception among the young.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jenny, Wondrous Reads TOP 500 REVIEWER on 22 Jan. 2010
Format: Paperback
I'm a big fan of fiction set in and around the Second World War. I don't know what it is that fascinates me, all I know is that it's a particular point of interest, and has been the subject of some of my favourite books. Auslander is a great addition to war fiction, and though it's not up there with The Book Thief or The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, it's most definitely worth a read.

By reading the first page alone, you can tell Dowswell has done his homework. His attention to detail is almost flawless, as is his ability to paint a clear picture of wartime Germany and its surrounding areas. Warsaw in 1941 is a scary place to be, and that's where Peter's story starts. From there, he's sent to a family in Germany, introduced to Nazi propaganda, and deemed an auslander -- a foreigner. He also stumbles across proof of medical experiements being tested on jews, and becomes tangled up in a dangerous web of lies and deceit. It's all for a good cause, but it doesn't do him any favours as a respected member of the Hitler Youth.

I can't even imagine what it must have been like to be a teenager during WWII. Most of their choices were stripped away, and they lived in a constant fear of being bombed or killed because their hair wasn't the right colour. With Auslander, Dowswell tries to show that fear and uncertainty and, for the most part, he manages to. I personally wanted to see more of the Hitler Youth, and how that affected the children and teenagers enlisted. I also would have liked a first person narrative, so I could have read how Peter was feeling, and how everything was really affecting him. Without being in his head, I did have some trouble warming to him, and by the end of the novel, I still wasn't fully convinced.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Ophelia on 3 Nov. 2009
Format: Hardcover
Ths grabs you from the first page. My 13 year old picked it up from the library as it's being reviewed for a teenbook prize. He read it in one sitting, so I thought I'd see what the fuss was about. Thought-provoking, good characterisations, well researched and thoroughly readable to any age.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There are many good books for children and teens about the Second World War from the British point of view, but fewer from the point of view of characters from Germany or other countries in continental Europe. "Ausländer" is a very good book for age 11+ - almost up there with the excellent "The Silver Sword" and certainly more realistic, in my view, than "The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas".

It's the story of Piotr/Peter, a teenage boy who may look the spitting image of the perfect Aryan boy on the Hitler Youth poster but whose background, genetics and upbringing are rather more complicated. Peter is "reclaimed" from Poland after losing both parents and is brought up by the family of a doctor working at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for racial study. The story is a realistic portrayal of Berlin during the war and of the questions of identity that the young hero goes through, as well as his reaction to the Nazi regime and its ideology. The author has obviously researched the period thoroughly and I found the 8-year-old Charlotte's knowledge and awareness of the Nazis with her dolls' house ready for a visit from the Führer and the swastika-hung Christmas tree far more realistic than the naive similarly-aged Bruno in "The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas" - and all the more chilling for that.

I did feel on a couple of occasions as if the author's research was crammed in a little surplus to requirements, rather for the sake of a shock effect, which wasn't necessary in my view. And I felt that the story could have been even better if the point of view could have stayed with Peter/Piotr throughout.

However, these are small points about a generally exciting, gripping and well-written tale. I have given the book to my son, who is is 12 and half German to read. I'll be interested to see what he makes of it, too.
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