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The Man In The High Castle (S.F. MASTERWORKS) [Hardcover]

Philip K. Dick
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (92 customer reviews)

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Book Description

17 Sep 2009 S.F. MASTERWORKS
It is 1962 and the Second World War has been over for seventeen years: people have now had a chance to adjust to the new order. But it's not been easy. The Mediterranean has been drained to make farmland, the population of Africa has virtually been wiped out and America has been divided between the Nazis and the Japanese. In the neutral buffer zone that divides the two superpowers lives the man in the high castle, the author of an underground bestseller, a work of fiction that offers an alternative theory of world history in which the Axis powers didn't win the war. The novel is a rallying cry for all those who dream of overthrowing the occupiers. But could it be more than that? Subtle, complex and beautifully characterized, The Man in the High Castle remains the finest alternative world novel ever written, and a work of profundity and significance.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz (17 Sep 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575082054
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575082052
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 20.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (92 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 342,104 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Book Description

'Dick's best work, and the most memorable alternative world tale...ever written' SCIENCE FICTION: THE 100 BEST NOVELS

About the Author

Philip K. Dick (1928-1982) was born in Chicago but lived most of his life in California. He was among the most prolific and significant of all science fiction writers. His other novels include TIME OUT OF JOINT and THE THREE STIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITCH.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The original story of an alternative WWII 13 April 2004
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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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure Genius? 16 Mar 2008
I first read this in my teens, and I think that much of the subtlety passed me by. I have just aquired a new copy from Amazon,decorated with one of the most un-pc book sleeves you are likely to come across ( not a "tube-reader" folks)! I have just finished reading it, and well, this is clearly a work of genius. The book for anyone who hasn't yet read it, contrasts a novel, The Grasshopper Lies Down, about our post-1945 world; within a novel where the Axis powers won the Second World War. Japanese- controlled West Coast of USA is honourable,spiritual and superstitious, and speak in clipped English; whereas the Nazi-controlled Eastern seaboard is materialistic and technologically advanced. Africa has been obliterated as an extension of the Final Solution. Dick's book questions the exact nature of history and reality; that what is real is only relative to the individuals own experience.
I have to say that I didn't wholly understand the ending; if anyone can explain this I would be grateful! I have read lengthy reviews which suggest that the world in Abendson's book is in fact, the real history of the 20th century. But this doesn't work for me.
If you think the previous paragraph contradicts my praise for this book, you are missing the point. It is a process-based novel and the ending is largely irrelevant, in my opinion anyway.
Has this novel ever been made into a film?
If not, why?
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fake to end all fakes? 11 Oct 2011
By Archy
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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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant alternative history 16 Oct 2010
What if history had run on different tracks? What if Roosevelt had been assasinated and not led the USA into World War II, what if the North Africa campaign had failed and Rommel succeeded, Stalingrad never happened and the Nazis taken over Europe. What if Japan had prevailed at Pearl Harbour, the United States fleet destroyed, Japan never made to suffer the atomic bombs at Nagasaki and Hiroshima? If Italy had never switched allegiance from Axis to Allies, and instead become a minor ruler in a world split between the might of two empires: Japan and the triumphant Third Reich. If the USA was partitioned, the Rockies acting as a DMZ between Japan's reticent Buddhist non-violent society on the western seaboard and Germany's agressive Nazism complete with work camps and gas ovens to the East. Dick imagined this, and the result is an extraordinary mediation on American society and the fragility of history.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Hard to Follow in Places
I enjoyed this book, but got a bit lost at times as it bounces round a fair bit between the different characters.
Published 1 month ago by The Driver
4.0 out of 5 stars Puzzling and pleasing.
Puzzling and pleasing. This book requires a lot of thought and reflection. One thing is certain, I will be reading more books by Philip K Dick. His work is addictive.
Published 2 months ago by Stephen Revard
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent novel that should have a wider readership
Dick's exploration of late 50s/early 60s United States, with Germany and Japan victorious after a protracted WWII, is an inventive and mind bending alternative history (rather than... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Claptout
4.0 out of 5 stars Slow starter, but worth the read
After reading 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?' by Phillip K. Dick, I decided to read this also, on a recommendation from a friend. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Harrison Ridley
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't bother reading/finishing
If you have started reading this book and are hoping it will get better, it will not! Too many sub-plots, poorly written, boring/non-existent narrative. Read more
Published 6 months ago by M. Barnes
5.0 out of 5 stars The best alternate history novel ever?
This is NOT science fiction! It's 'alternative history', one of the very first, and undoubtedly one of the best. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Goldfrapper
2.0 out of 5 stars Sorry, I just didn't get it.
I have been meaning to read this for some few years and am a fan of PKD's work (mainly his short stories). Read more
Published 7 months ago by Jeff
5.0 out of 5 stars A great Classic for Sci-Fi!
Philip K Dick at his best. Too many great lines to mention.
A real 'what if?' chilling at times and such a good story.
Published 7 months ago by denis i watson
5.0 out of 5 stars A science fiction classic
Philip K Dick is the great sci-fi writer of the 20th century. What a shame he died so young and in some ways, quite disappointed with his non sci-fi novels, which at his death,... Read more
Published 8 months ago by David FERNEY
5.0 out of 5 stars Another best from Philip K DIck
I bought this book for my son who is an avid reader and aspiring writer himself. Well worth the purchase. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Jesse Holland
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