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The Book Thief [Hardcover]

Markus Zusak
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2,919 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Jan 2007
'It's just a small story, really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, a Jewish fist fighter, and quite a lot of thievery ...' Narrated in the all-knowing matter-of-fact voice of Death, witnessing the story of the citizens of Himmel Street: When nine-year-old Liesel arrives outside the boxlike house of her new foster parents, she refuses to get out of the car. Liesel has been separated from her parents - 'Kommunists' - for ever, and at the burial of her little brother, she steals a gravedigger's instruction manual which she can't read. It is the beginning of her illustrious career. In the care of the Hubermans, Liesel befriends blond-haired Rudy Steiner, her neighbour obsessed with Jesse Owens. She also befriends the mayor's wife, who hides from despair in her library. Together Liesel and Rudy steal books - from Nazi book burning piles, from the mayor's library, from the richer people of Molching. In time, the family hide a Jewish boxer, Max, who reads with Liesel in the basement. . By 1943, the Allied bombs are falling, and the sirens begin to wail. Liesel shares out her books in the air-raid shelters. But one day in the life of Himmel street, the wail of the sirens comes too late ... A life-changing tale of the cruel twists of fate and the coincidences on which all our lives hinge, this is also a joyous look at the power of book to nourish the soul. Its uplifting ending will make all readers weep.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; First Edition edition (1 Jan 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385611463
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385611466
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16 x 5.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2,919 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 222,765 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

A moving work which will make many eyes brim. -- Marianne Brace, Independent on Sunday

Extraordinary, resonant and relevant, beautiful and angry. -- Lisa Hilton, Sunday Telegraph

Unsettling, thought-provoking, life-affirming, triumphant and
tragic, this is a novel of breath-taking scope, masterfully told...A
wonderful page-turner.
-- The Guardian

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
337 of 351 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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264 of 281 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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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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90 of 99 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing, wonderful book w/unique perspective 15 Sep 2008
Format:Paperback
I picked this book up in an airport on a whim. I liked the cover. It took a couple of months to open it up, but once I did, I could NOT put it down. I (foolishly) took it with me on vacation. I did NOT see the sights, because I stayed in my room all day and all night until I finished the book, sometimes laughing, sometimes crying hysterically.

This book is haunting, beautiful, and moving-but not in a sappy way. My family is Jewish, and suffered loss due to the Holocaust. But lots of people have similar stories, and have told them. They are all important, and moving, but this is completely unique, because it's not primarily about the Jews (though they are in the book).

I have to admit, I have never once thought about what it was like for regular, working class citizens to live in Nazi Germany. Or what it was like for their children. There were other innocent victims of the Nazi regime than the ones who died in the camps. Zusak vividly brings to life these special, imperfect and at the same time PERFECT characters and makes you experience their lives as if they were your own. I felt what they felt, saw what they saw, lost what they lost. And, I finished this book crying like a baby. I cried for at least half an hour. And it was wonderful.

A boy with hair the color of lemons broke my heart the night I finished reading this book. (You will understand what that means when you read it.) But I am glad he did. I would never have known him, otherwise.

READ THIS BOOK!!!!!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very good
Published 19 hours ago by John ll Jones
3.0 out of 5 stars Long winded but emotional
It took me a long time to finish this book as it did not grip me until the last quarter. Then I couldn't put it down, it was emotional and eye opening. Read more
Published 1 day ago by Sian
5.0 out of 5 stars really enjoyed this book!
It is an easy read but very we'll written. You don't get many like this. The sequence of events was very logical.
Published 1 day ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars good book
Cant wait to read this book after watching the movie. I am sure this will be a great read for me.
Published 1 day ago by Honeybun
5.0 out of 5 stars best book that I have read this year
I have read 30 books this year and this is the standout favourite.
It is very cleverly written from Deaths viewpoint. Read more
Published 1 day ago by nettiek50
5.0 out of 5 stars good read.
Begfer tban the film.good read.
Published 1 day ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars truly touching and a brilliant read
Absolutely amazing. Such Beautiful use of language and imagery to truly touch your soul. A must to read for all.
Published 2 days ago by Anita
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Found it a bit difficult to start but got better and better
Published 2 days ago by eme
5.0 out of 5 stars Just brilliant!
Fantastically and uniquely written. Truly interesting story showing a very different side to the WWII story. The best book I have read for years.
Published 2 days ago by Clare Miller
5.0 out of 5 stars Even Death Has A Heart
I can happily say I thoroughly enjoyed this book and liked Zusaks writing style. He has a gift of imagery and manages an easy narrative warmth. Read more
Published 2 days ago by mikayla
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