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The Book Thief [Library Binding]

Markus Zusak
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2,988 customer reviews)
Price: 11.29 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

14 Mar 2006
The extraordinary #1 New York Times bestseller that is now a major motion picture, Markus Zusak's unforgettable story is about the ability of books to feed the soul.

It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.

Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.

In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak, author of I Am the Messenger, has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.


From the Hardcover edition.

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Product details

  • Library Binding: 552 pages
  • Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers (14 Mar 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375931007
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375931000
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 14.6 x 20.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2,988 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 244,202 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak was the best-selling debut literary novel of the year 2007, selling over 400,000 copies. The author is a prize-winning writer of children's books, and this, his first novel for adults, proved to be a triumphant success. The book is extraordinary on many levels: moving, yet restrained, angry yet balanced -- and written with the kind of elegance found all too rarely in fiction these days. The book's narrator is nothing less than Death itself, regaling us with a remarkable tale of book burnings, treachery and theft. The book never forgets the primary purpose of compelling the reader's attention, yet which nevertheless is able to impart a cogent message about the importance of words, particularly in those societies which regard the word as dangerous (the book is set during the Nazi regime, but this message is all too relevant in many places in the world today).

Nine-year-old Liesel lives with her foster family on Himmel Street during the dark days of the Third Reich. Her Communist parents have been transported to a concentration camp, and during the funeral for her brother, she manages to steal a macabre book: it is, in fact, a gravediggers’ instruction manual. This is the first of many books which will pass through her hands as the carnage of the Second World War begins to hungrily claim lives. Both Liesel and her fellow inhabitants of Himmel Street will find themselves changed by both words on the printed page and the horrendous events happening around them.

Despite its grim narrator, The Book Thief is, in fact, a life-affirming book, celebrating the power of words and their ability to provide sustenance to the soul. Interestingly, the Second World War setting of the novel does not limit its relevance: in the 20th century, totalitarian censorship throughout the world is as keen as ever at suppressing books (notably in countries where the suppression of human beings is also par for the course) and that other assault on words represented by the increasing dumbing-down of Western society as cheap celebrity replaces the appeal of books for many people, ensures that the message of Marcus Zusak’s book could not be more timely. It is, in fact, required reading -- or should be in any civilised country. --Barry Forshaw --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Review

"Extraordinary, resonant and relevant, beautiful and angry." (Sunday Telegraph)

"...a beautifully balanced piece of storytelling...Unsettling, thought-provoking, life affirming, triumphant and tragic, this is a novel of breathtaking scope, masterfully told. It is an important piece of work, but also a wonderful page-turner." (Guardian)

"A moving work which will make many eyes brim." (Independent on Sunday)

"This is a weighty novel worthy of universal acclaim. A sense of dread prevades this beautifully written novel. As The Book Thief draws to a close, Death says: "There's a multitude of stories that i allow to distract me as I work." The story of the Book Thief, who tried to change the world in her own small way, proves one formidable and inspiring distraction." (The Daily Express)

"Brilliant and hugely ambitious ... the kind of book that could be life-changing" (New York Times Book Review) --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
342 of 356 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another humdinger 14 Mar 2008
By Mr. Peter Steward TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
I really can't believe that in the first three months of the year I have come across three gems in "A Thousand Splendid Suns," "A Quiet Belief in Angels" and now "The Book Thief." Each of these books is different but they are all stunning in their own individual way.

The Book Thief is highly original, although it did remind me somewhat of my book of the year for 2007 "The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas." The subject matter for both books is the Nazification of Germany. Both books look at things from the perspective of a child growing up in the most turbulent of times and both have a child-like simplicity that just adds to their powers.

The Book Thief is a beautiful book from start to finish. Indeed at times it is more of a scrapbook of a life than a novel. It has a strangeness that only enhances the subject matter. For a start it is narrated by death. But this never detracts from the shape or power of the novel as young lives are slowly ripped apart in a German Town where poverty is rife.

The central character Liesel has a beautiful calmness of spirit. She always seems to be on the verge of re-alisation whilst still retaining the fragility of childhood. Slowly and gradually the evil unfolds before her as she becomes aware of the fate of the Jews in a town where she is thrust as an unwilling refugee.

In her adopted father Hans Hubermann, Zusak has created one of those unforgettable men of strength and kindness. At first when Liesel is thrust into the Hubermann household I was expecting a hard-hearted couple keen to take the small amount of money that Lisel brings with her but not so keen to give her the love that she craves. Nothing could be more from the truth.
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266 of 283 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just read it!!! 22 Feb 2008
By A. Hope
Format:Paperback
I am not sure how to describe this book - without either giving too much away - or making it sound depressing and grisely which it is not at all. Suffice to say this is a novel narrated by death. It is the story of a young girl living in Nazi Germany, who goes to live with a foster family,and learns to read, and falls in love with: books, her new Papa, a boy called Rudy, and a Jew hiding in a basement. It is also a story of WW2 - from a persepective we don't often see - ordinaary Germans - some of whom were members of "The Party."

Death takes the reader by the hand, and leads us through the lives and deaths of people in Liesel's world, he kind of "gives the game away" a few times - and yet that never spoils it - it prepares the reader for what's ahead.
This is an astonishing book - the writing is great - an unusual style - but one that fits perfectly somehow with the voice of Death - and that of the unforgettable Liesel.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Pollyanna of Molching 24 Mar 2013
Format:Paperback
I enjoyed Zusak's writing style. He has a gift for imagery and manages an easy narrative warmth. Personally, I found the personification of death in this story interesting, if a bit forced in parts, and though the whole thing could have been shorter (and the trite Word Shaker bit removed completely), all in all this was a cosy tale where everything fitted together nicely.
Now here's the thing with Holocaust fiction: there has to be truth. Crude, ugly, blessed truth. It's the only way to tackle the monstrosity, the only way to show respect for the victims. So 'cosy' is not a word I should be using in a review about a story set in WWII Germany. But as a character, Liesel is just that. Sure, she has a rough start, but from then on it's all pretty hunky dory, really. She's the Pollyanna of Molching! Her adoptive parents warm to her in the twinkling of an eye. She makes friends with a boy who paints himself black to look like Jesse Owens when he runs (I'm really hoping this one is based on some kind of anecdote from the author's mother, because otherwise the hokery is unbearable). The catatonic Nazi mayor's wife lets her steal her books. She lulls her neighbours' fears during air raids by reading to them aloud. She gives the Jewish man hiding in the cellar reason to live (and inspiration to write a graphic novelette - how marvellous!). She tames her pottymouthed neighbour by (guess what?) reading to her! She's brave enough to get in line with Jewish prisoners being marched through town.
People do die and suffer a bit around Liesel. But the dying and suffering, in fact the whole context of the War, is strangely distant. Okay, she's a child, so in a sense shielded. But events like the ones she faces should expose nerve after nerve after nerve. I couldn't feel it.
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215 of 236 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece of empathy 28 Nov 2007
Format:Paperback
Sometimes a fictional interpretation of history is exactly what we need in order to be able to come to a real understanding of what it meant to live through historic events, particularly horrific ones. Markus Zusak provides us with a masterful interpretation of the Nazi period of German history from the perspective of ordinary people suffering through it and striving to keep their lives together and their souls alive and kicking within the horrific and ever-tightening boundaries constructed by the Nazi regime. He gives us a gut-wrenchingly palpable empathy for people facing harrowing decisions on a daily basis. His marvelous characters bring to life the dilemmas of those who believe they should help the Jews as well as the equally nightmarish predicament of Jews who through receiving help put others in danger. We see much of this through the perspective of the main character Liesel, who is only a young girl. Her innocence and the gradual realizations she comes to about the events swirling around her in a maelstrom of horror evoke a remarkable empathy in the reader. If you want to understand how the little people cope with such tragic historic events without allowing their souls to be crushed, read this book. Ultimately it is a portrait of the resilience and hope of the human spirit.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The main themes are war and inhumanity versus compassion and love,...
An unusual book, written in the first person - death personified. Gripping and touching. Makes you want to read twice to look more carefully at the detail and subleties. Read more
Published 2 hours ago by Polaroid user
5.0 out of 5 stars Book thief - heart thief
Great book with an original viewpoint. Well worth the read.
Published 8 hours ago by E. Weston
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic read!
I was recommended to read this book years ago but never got round to it. Better late than never though this book was written so well and good to hear another point of view from a... Read more
Published 8 hours ago by Tracey
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing 100% recommended read
Amazing book, particularly if you want a alternative outlook on the effect of ear on the German population
Published 9 hours ago by Charlie buttle
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
great
Published 13 hours ago by susan spicer
5.0 out of 5 stars ALL the feelings
Oh god this book nearly killed me. I cried so much, and I fell in love with all the characters. Zusak really knows how to use words to their full potential. Read more
Published 22 hours ago by Inga
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic!
Amazing. Really worth reading. Great story for a completely different perspective.
Published 1 day ago by Charlotte
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I've ever read.
I literally could not put this book down once I started, I was immediately hooked by the storyline, the characters and the author's brilliant way with words. Read more
Published 1 day ago by Elsa Williams
5.0 out of 5 stars Most enjoyable book I've read for a while.
Loved this book, kept me interested until the very end. Funny in places and also quite sad. It was a very unusual story. I loved the author's way of writing.
Published 1 day ago by Peggy
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it
Loved this book, brilliantly conceived and written. Very moving at times.
Published 1 day ago by Trevino
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