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The Assault [Paperback]

Harry Mulisch
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.85
Price: 7.68 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

1 Mar 2002
A novel that probes moral devastation following a Nazi retaliation in a Dutch town. The Assault has been translated and published to great critical acclaim throughout Europe and in the United States.

It is the winter of 1945, the last dark days of the ware in occupied Holland. A Nazi collaborator, infamous for his cruelty, is assassinated as he rides on his bicycle. The Germans retaliate by slaughtering an innocent family: only the youngest son, twelve-year-old Anton, survives.

The Assault traces the complex repercussions of this nightmarish event on Anton's life. Determined not to forget, he opts for a carefully normal existence—a prudent marriage, a successful career, and colorless passivity. But the past keeps breaking through, in relentless memories and in chance encounters with the other actors in the drama, until Anton finally learns what really happened that night in 1945, and why.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 185 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon Books Inc; American ed edition (1 Mar 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394744209
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394744209
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 13.3 x 1.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 98,193 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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It was about half past seven in the evening. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Assault by Harry Mulisch 13 Mar 2004
Format:Paperback
Anyone who has ever had to face something in their life that has shaped the way in which their life has progressed will find the pyschology of this book fascinating. It deals with good and evil, love and hate, meaning and misunderstanding and the relentess connectedness of events that influences us all. Anton, the main character at first buries, but then realises that he is haunted by the tragic events that befall his family. Even though it takes his whole life to discover the truth of what had happened to them, this is nothing more than a series of coincidences. The effect of the defining events at the beginning of the book on the lives of everyone involved and the motives behind their individual judgements leaves you questioning the certainity of your own moral code and the nature of truth.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunted and haunting 23 July 2005
By Ralph Blumenau TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
In a Haarlem street the Dutch Resistance kills an active collaborator. In retaliation the Germans have destroyed a house in that street in which live ten-year-oldAnton Steenwijk with his parents and elder brother. Anton survives, but his parents and brother are killed. As Anton grows up, he wants to suppress all memories of that time, and it is not a coincidence that he chooses to become an anaesthetist. But of course the trauma is buried within him, and affects his mental life in many ways, some that are inexplicable to him. But the members of the resistance who had carried out the assassination are haunted also, by their knowledge that their deed had led to uninvolved people being shot. All these states of mind are explored in this story, as much that lay concealed emerges over the 36 years after the event. The reader is engaged as taut knots are loosened and unwound.
During all this time the world moves on and new political issues arise - Vietnam; the anti-nuclear movement. Do they leave the old issues behind or are they connected with them?
This short book's limpid prose is very precise, profound and rich in unobtrusive symbolism. It is all very compelling
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
At almost the end of the war a tyrannical local Dutch police chief is assassinated outside the house of an innocent family. The events which follow are seen through the eyes of a young boy. Over the subsequent years the mystery of why it all happened are revealed.
The plot is fascinating and the characters are all vividly written. The description of the locality conjures up the way the landscape of Holland looks and feels, the cold winter weather the broad canals. Thoroughly interesting and enjoyable.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars hidden secrets 10 Feb 2011
Format:Paperback
It is 1945, Anton is 12 years old and seeing out the second world war in provincial Holland.The slaughter of a feared collaborator near their home brings horror to his careful family.
This is my first encounter with the work of Harry Mulisch it will not be my last.The novel is written in a no nonsense style, clear and vivid descriptions of characters and fine plotting keep the story moving towards it's ending, which satisfies by answering the question that appears early in the text,and forms the moral dilemna in this fine literary novel
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Masterwork 31 May 2003
By Peter Reeve VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
When my work took me to Holland for a few months, I asked people there what Dutch novels they would recommend. They all said "The Assault". It would certainly be an exageration to say that Holland has no literature, but not much of an exageration. It is renowned for its great painters and architects, not its writers. But in "The Assault" at least, they have produced an indisputable masterpiece. If you read just one Dutch novel, this has to be it.
An exquisitely poignant evocation of life in German-occupied Holland in World War II, it invites the reader to make moral judgements and then systematically undermines those judgements. It is a restrained, undemonstrative, beautifully written work that unfolds gradually and in a most unexpected way. Highly recommended.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Shifting revelations 16 April 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A post war classic which tackles the knotty issues of how to cope in the aftermath of atrocities, timely in its examination of whether to draw a line under the past in the light of what the present gradually reveals about all those involved and their own complex human motives.
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