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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 9 December 2000
After reading 'Enigma, Robert Harris's book on the events at Bletchley Park during World War Two and thoroughly enjoying it, I decided to look at his other work. Fatherland is even better, Harris tells an excellent story that contains many accurate hisotrical refrences. I would recommend this book to anyone, a really enjoyable book.
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on 12 August 2014
the best one
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 28 April 1999
Reading this book does indeed make one think 'What if?' The thing about this book is that it could have been a reality. Harris tells a good tale and keeps you enthralled with the storyline and plot. I would recommend that you read SS-GB by Len Deighton for another one of those books that will again make you wonder 'What if?'
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 26 October 1998
Robert Harris has done something that I've been waiting to see for years: turn out a WWII political thriller that is as good as something that Frederick Forsyth or Tom Clancy could write. In the lines of Jack Higgins' "The Eagle Has Landed" and Len Deighton's infinitely better "SS-GB", Harris has surpassed both of them by throwing us into the nightmare world of a Nazi-dominated Europe. Even though it's probably more far-fetched than both "Eagle" and "SS-GB", Harris makes his atmosphere utterly believable and totally scary. This is something that Jack Higgins could never do, and Deighton has done only to a certain degree. This is a book you'll want to read over and over again.
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on 20 February 2015
Great read.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 23 October 2007
Fatherland, is set in Berlin, in 1964. The Nazis have been victorious in World War II, and are in control of all Europe. The plot revolves around the discovery of the body of a high ranking Nazi official. Xavier March, of the Kriminalpolizei, is investigating the case, but as he digs deeper, he starts to realise, that there is a lot more to the murder, than he first suspected.

I found this book a fascinating read, with a good cast of characters, and it kept me interested, throughout. The Berlin of 1964, the world's largest city, with its magnificent buildings, and wealth, struck me as very chilling, and somewhat creepy, as the place is still being run by the Nazis.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 8 April 2000
Another Harris winner, this time set in Nazi Germany after the war with the Germans having won. Not only does the book dip into what this life is like but also portrays the other side of what it was like for those who unwillingly live under Nazi regime yet cannot show it.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
CONTAINS MILD SPOILER AT MID WAY POINT

Fatherland, by Robert Harris alongside Laurent Binet's HHhH was my book clubs choice this month.

The novel takes place in an alternate universe in which Germany and not the UK/USA won World War 2. It is now the mid Sixties, Adolf Hitler is still the Fuhrer and the nation is gearing up to celebrate his 75th birthday. In the midst of this, policeman Xavier March is on hand when a corpse is discovered and from there, uncovers a dark conspiracy.

I found myself slightly frustrated with Fatherland. The concept of a Nazi victory is a really interesting idea, particularly from the perspective of the victorious nations, the UK and the USA and how those countries and thus the globe in itself would have differed as a result. England and most of Europe under German rule, no setting up of the United Nations, no Israel etc. Fatherland however is not that book.

Instead the focus is Germany itself, and what is Germany like under a German victory? Well, exactly what it was like during war and pre-war Nazi Germany, obviously! The Germany depicted actually feels like post-war East Germany which fell to Communists and the Secret Police as depicted in the wonderful 2006 film The Lives Of Others. It's hard to not see this as an opportunity wasted. Instead the focus on the impact on Germany itself feels rather self-explanatory, than in any way exploring something new.

SPOILERS FOLLOW.

The changes in the world mentioned aren't exactly that major or delved into in any way. Joe Kennedy, John F Kennedy's father became President instead, Heydrich survived his assassination attempt, the Nazis bombed New York and then became the Cold War opponents, Russia and the US are allies. These aren't really spoilers of Fatherland, as each is only mentioned in the briefest passing.

In the end the central conceit of Fatherland is that policeman Xavier March uncovers a conspiracy to cover up what the Germans did during the Final Solution and is rocked by the revelation of the Holocaust.

This entire premise is laughable on pretty much every level.

Firstly, the Nazis weren't the least bit ashamed of their solution to "the Jewish question", didn't consider Jews fully human, and thought they were absolutely doing the right thing. So the idea that they would try and hush it up on either a national or international level is bogus.

Secondly, the presupposition is apparently that by removing the 12 architects of the Final Solution, Heydrich eliminates the proof that it ever even happened. This is stupid beyond words. What about the 100s of SS officers who worked in those camps? The doctors, the train drivers, the local agents who rounded people up, and then by extension their families and friends. They all knew what was going on. Likewise the SS WAGs of whom there are many astonishing pictures. What about the Vel d'Hiv round up in Paris? That wasn't even the Germans it was the French police!!!!
Many Jews got out both to the UK and to the US and Canada, before the supposed Nazi victory. It was known, and in a widespread way.

Thirdly, through March there is this notion that the 'average German' believed the lie that the Jews had en masse been deported to Russia, and any disquiet they felt they kept quiet about. This is like saying that across Germany millions of adults believed their parents that their dog was happily living on a farm, when it was in fact dead. Many 'average Germans' (and Dutch and French) risked and lost their lives hiding Jews in their homes. Why? Because they knew they were getting killed en masse that's why!!!!

So expecting anyone to believe any of this is balderdash and the entire concept holds no water.

A disappointment.

Verdict : 5/10
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 26 March 2003
Harris' book is really two books trying to work as one. On the one hand there is the thriller element of it, which is absolutely superb, really exciting and the twists and turns reveal many pleasures. This aspect makes it a real page-turner: Harris has spent much time thinking about the way the book should be structured, and he proves himself more than competent at this type of writing. The ending is a real cliffhanger, and I liked the way the reader is supposed to guess what happens.
What I really object to is the presence of the Nazis in the novel. He hitches his plot onto an attempted description of how the regime would have worked if the Nazi's had won WWII. There were many "jokes", moments of dramatic irony we were suppoed to find funny, such as the fact that Edward and Wallis Simpson were King & Queen of England, and as for the reference to the Beatles... One can hardly see them being allowed to sing "Revolution" or "All You Need Is Love". Still, I suppose John Lennon would be allowed to have Hitler on the front-cover of Sgt. Pepper.
It is not so much the fact that it is set in a Nazi Germany, it is the throw away remarks that drag the whole tone of the book down, and ruin what would otherwise be an excellent book. There are real moments of inshight into what life would be like, but he has swamped it with comments that remind me too much of the line in Titanic about Clement Freud being in steerage.
This is not to say that it is a bad book. Om the contrary, it is one of the best thrillers I have read for a long time. The Nazi theme is not explored to its' full potential, is occassionally used for "comedy", and does not deserve the lionisation this book seems to attract from so many people.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 6 January 2009
I've just read this for the second time, quite a few years after first getting to grips with it, and its originality and power do not diminish.

Xavier March, the central character to the book reminds me of Martin Cruz Smith's 'Arkady Renko' from the Gorky Park trilogy and other books, as he is a detective working for a scary higher power, whose rules and recriminations are deadly and mystifying. He's weary of all the lies and yet has the sense of justice, of wanting to eek out the truth of what happened, no matter the consequences to his personal life.

I found it plausible and intriguing. Highly recommended.
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