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The Man in the High Castle (Penguin Modern Classics) Paperback – 6 Sep 2001


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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (6 Sept. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141186674
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141186672
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.6 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (130 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,952 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

The most brilliant sci-fi mind on any planet (Rolling Stone)

California's own William Blake. Visionary and prophet (Daily Telegraph) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

'Dick's best work, and the most memorable alternative world tale...ever written' SCIENCE FICTION: THE 100 BEST NOVELS --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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For a week Mr R. Childan had been anxiously watching the mail. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By nigeyb on 20 July 2011
Format: Paperback
1. The surface story

Set in 1962, fourteen years after the end of a longer WW2 (1939-1948). The victorious Axis Powers (Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, and Italy) carved up the world at the end of the war. The Nazis have turned the Mediterranean into a huge agricultural area, killed the entire population of Africa, and most of the Soviet Union, and are sending spaceships to colonise Mars. The Nazis and Japan, the superpowers, are in a Cold War situation.

'The Man in the High Castle' takes place on the West Coast of the USA. In the book the USA is split into The Pacific States of America - a region run by Japan, and the rest of the US run indirectly by the Nazis. The story follows a collection of characters based in San Francisco who are linked either directly or indirectly and who are getting on with their lives.

I really enjoyed the story, and thought Dick's imagined post-War world was interesting and credible. The narrative is occasionally a bit confusing but always stimulating, particularly the detail of daily life. For example the way Japanese culture and customs have come to inform daily life for indigenous Americans.

There is also another story within the story. A bestselling book called 'The Grasshopper Lies Heavy' - a populist Science Fiction novel in which America and the Allies win the Second World War. This book has become successful and so the Nazis want the author killed. This secondary story hints at some of the themes below the surface of the main narrative.

2. Themes

'The Man in the High Castle' made me think about history, and how it is written by the victors. For example, in the alternate world of this book, Churchill is cast as a war criminal. The book also asks other questions about history.
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44 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Giles Allison on 13 April 2004
Format: Paperback
This is the perfect book for those new to PKD's work or who have tried reading later, spaced-out novels such as "Valis" and given up. Counterfactual books, both fiction and non-fiction, are all the rage nowadays. So it is difficult when reading this book to remember that when it was published (in 1962, before the Vietnam War) the memories of World War II and the Korean War were still vivid. The premise is this: the Allies lost the war and the USA is split between the "Pacific States of America" in the West, run by the Japanese, and the East Coast, which is part of greater Germany (along with Europe and part of Asia). The background to how this came about is wonderfully teased out over the entire course of the book, and similarly the effects of Nazi rule over most of the globe are glimpsed in chilling off-hand remarks. PKD's world is well-thought out and comprehensive: while the "final solution" has been applied to the whole of Africa, Herbert von Karajan is resident as conductor-in-chief of the New York Philharmonic.
This is PKD's most mainstream, and in many ways his most approachable, published work. It is a wonderful analysis of how ordinary Americans might have behaved under totalitarian rule. There is a power vacuum created by the death of Martin Boorman, but the wider political picture remains a backdrop to the inter-connected stories of a selection of "average joes", all of whom are masterfully characterised. As a nod to the "science fiction" categorisation of the book, at the core of the tale is a bestselling, underground book written by a man who supposedly lives in a high castle in the Rockies, and which is a work of alternative history about how the Allies won the war - is it possible that reality could have been changed in some way?
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Archy on 11 Oct. 2011
Format: Paperback
I recall reading this as a teenager. I didn't really understand it then, and revisiting it more than thirty years later was an odd experience, as I expected to find a real classic I'd previously misunderstood. But I didn't. To start with, I'd forgotten how abrupt, terse, and awkward Dick's writing style was back in the early 60s. This is not an easy book to read, or fathom. I'd forgotten how the plot skitters about from one character to another (a strength, I know, for some readers) and how stereotyped some of them are (he even has a Japanese say "ah so"!) I'd forgotten the Nazi spy plot and how impenetrable it is, altogether.

Dick was always at his best when detailing the actions of the little man, in this case Frank Frink, who loses his job and begins his own jewellery business. He's good when detailing relationship breakdowns - the passages featuring Frank's ex-wife, Juliana, and her quest for the 'Man in the High Castle' were also fascinating. He's always interesting when indulging in religious speculation, here done via the I Ching. But once he strays into a kind of John le Carre spy world involving top ranking (though not historical) Nazis I think he loses his way. He certainly lost me.

Fakes abound in this book, from the fake guns - which can still kill - fake American artifacts, and fake people. No one is who they seem to be: one character is visited by a representative of a Japanese admiral, who isn't really a representative at all; he's Frank Frink. But Frink isn't really Frink, he's Fink, a Jew, and so in great danger from the authorities. And so on. Finally, there's the 'Man in the High Castle' himself, and his curious book, 'The Grasshopper lies heavy' - a title adapted from the Bible - wherein Germany and Japan actually lost the war.
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