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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Aftermath
It is 1946 and the war has ended, but is far from over. Colonel Lewis Morgan is one of the British occupation force, who are attempting to rebuild the ruined city and discover which members of the defeated population were members of the Nazi party. When a house is requisitioned for him and his family, Lewis makes the unusual choice not to send the German widower and his...
Published 17 months ago by S Riaz

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What is forgiveness? - 3.5 stars
''The Beast is here. I've seen him, Berti's seen him. Dietmar's seen him. With his black fur like a fancy lady's coat. and those teeth like piano keys. We have to kill him. If we don't who will? The Tommies? the Yankies? The Russkies? The French? None of them will because they're all looking for other things.'

The Aftermath starts in the ruins of heavily bombed...
Published 11 months ago by purpleheart


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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Aftermath, 28 Mar 2013
By 
S Riaz "S Riaz" (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Aftermath (Kindle Edition)
It is 1946 and the war has ended, but is far from over. Colonel Lewis Morgan is one of the British occupation force, who are attempting to rebuild the ruined city and discover which members of the defeated population were members of the Nazi party. When a house is requisitioned for him and his family, Lewis makes the unusual choice not to send the German widower and his daughter away, but offers to share the property with them. However, his attempts to be supportive are resented on all sides. Herr Stefan Lubert, whose house it is, is grateful for the kindness, although understandably resentful of his forced deference. His fifteen year old daughter Freda still harbours a grudge against the conquerors she holds responsible for the death of her mother. On the British side, Lewis is soon to be joined by his wife, Rachael and son Edmund. Rachael has become used to being alone and finds it hard to readjust to being part of a couple again and is still mourning for her eldest son, Michael, who was also killed in the war.

The author cleverly uses the ruined city of Hamburg as a character in its own right - creating an atmosphere of mistrust and upheaval among the debris. Groups of orphaned children run wild; starving, ragged and feral, while adults are roped into removing the rubble for food rations. Meanwhile, the British are too often keen on finding guilt in the German people, who long to simply put the war behind them and get on with their lives. Their heavy handed interrogations to establish 'guilt', their plundering of a city left in ruins, and complaints about befriending the enemy, mean that Lewis ('of Hamburg') is soon confronting suspicion on all sides for his support of the German people. Can Lewis make his wife understand that Germans are no longer the enemy? Will their marriage survive the distance that the war has put between them and can the children, on both sides, make sense of the world the adults are re-creating? This is a very intelligent and atmospheric novel, with personal resentments and grief building towards tragedy and, yet, hope of redemption. This is an excellent novel; an unusual view of a very over analysed and written about period of history, with great characters, believable dialogue and a good setting. The tension between the inhabitants of the house is tangible, but you will be glad you chose to read their story.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars To the victors the spoils, 17 April 2013
By 
still searching (MK UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Aftermath (Hardcover)
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I enjoyed this novel a great deal; primarily because its setting was immediate post-war Germany, a time and place unfamiliar to me as the setting for a novel, but also because the writing is unfussy but elegant and the characters were well drawn, having the ring of truth about them.

The book opens in 1946 when a British officer, Colonel Lewis Morgan, begins to take up his post in Hamburg as part of the British occupation force supposedly supervising the restoration of Germany and its de-nazification. Whilst Morgan is sympathetic to the devastated population, barely subsisting on a diet Oliver Twist might have turned his nose up at, some of his subordinates are less so, particularly exemplified in the form of the brutish military intelligence officer, Major Burnham.

But the story is really about the dehumanization of war and the re-humanization and `accommodation' of former combatants. This is quite literally true in the case of the Morgans - the colonel's traumatized wife, Rachael, and their surviving 11 year old son, Edmund, join Morgan shortly after he takes up residence in a large and well-appointed house belonging to a relatively wealthy German family, the Luberts, which has been requisitioned for them in advance. Although, well within his `rights' as the senior army officer in charge, Morgan cannot bring himself to turf out, from their home, Herr Lubert, a `war widower', and his 16 year old daughter, Freda, and proposes, since the house is more than big enough, that the two families share it, something highly unorthodox in the context of the time.

Thus, a kind of strained accommodation begins and it is the progress with which this occurs that is skilfully charted through the rest of the book as the house's occupants begin, gradually, to learn the meaning of `entente cordiale'.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What is forgiveness? - 3.5 stars, 26 Sep 2013
By 
purpleheart (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Aftermath (Hardcover)
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''The Beast is here. I've seen him, Berti's seen him. Dietmar's seen him. With his black fur like a fancy lady's coat. and those teeth like piano keys. We have to kill him. If we don't who will? The Tommies? the Yankies? The Russkies? The French? None of them will because they're all looking for other things.'

The Aftermath starts in the ruins of heavily bombed Hamburg as a gang of feral children, the rubble gang, explore the 'pulverized landscape of the Tommy-bomber city.' Ozi's list hints at the politics of the complexities of the politics of the Allied occupation and the pressing need for food.

The Aftermath has a very interesting situation - post war Germany and Colonel Lewis Morgan charges with the taks of de-Nazifying the defeated city offers to share the requisitioned house he has been allocated with its owner, the architect Stefan Lubert and his daughter, Freda. Apparently, the situation is based on the similar decision Rhidian Brook's grandfather made post war. However, Morgan's principled decision has not considered the impact on his wife Rachael, who is mourning the loss of their eldest son after a German bombing raid or on his son Edmund. Lubert's wife was killed in a British bombing raid and so both families are living with the enemy.

The strengths of this novel lie in the fascinating situation and the description of the harsh realities of life in Hamburg, though Brook's language can sometime be anachronistic and jar one into the present day. In the end I gave this 3.5 starts because the characters were not fully convincing.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great read about a subject I'd never really considered, 11 Nov 2013
By 
John Worsley (Spain) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Aftermath (Hardcover)
Rhydian Brook is a fabulous writer, of that there is no doubt. I read this book as one chosen by my book club and wasn't at all sure about it because I am not keen on history at all. The writing completely enveloped me and I found myself not only reading a really interesting story with great narrative, but learning much about the post-war re-building of Germany - and enjoying it! The book bristles with insights of human nature, of loss, longing, hope, despair and even passion. I recommend this book. Rhydian has based it on his family history and therefore speaks with authenticity and authority.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars `Damaged People in a Damaged Country', 7 Dec 2013
By 
Sussman "Sussman" (London CA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Aftermath (Hardcover)
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To begin with a little bit of background against which the narrative is set. So the Allies have finally beaten the `Nazi War Machine'. At terrible cost to both sides, and after two World Wars with Germany the winning powers decide that enough is enough and never again. Firstly there is the implantation of `Denazification', and secondly the splitting up of Germany into occupation zones. With each zone allocated to an Allied power. The process of denazification in Germany was attempted through a series of orders issued by the Allied Control Council, whose HQ was in Berlin, beginning in January 1946. It meant that specific people and groups, which were identified, were to be processed by judicial measures. It is important to note that while all the occupying forces had agreed on the enterprise, in reality the approaches used for denazification and the `zeal' with which it was implemented differed between the occupation zones.
The framework, in part, for the story is the author's grandfather's own experiences carrying out his duties in post war Germany. The novel takes place a year after the end of the Second World War. In Hamburg's British Occupied Zone, some years previously the Allied air force had unleashed bombing in the region to such a degree, it was later referred to as the "the Hiroshima of Germany".

Our protagonist Col. Lewis Morgan has been allocated to manage the rebuilding and denazification within the British-controlled district. As Morgan sees the realities on the ground the squalor, ruins, abject hunger, displaced people and the orphaned feral children who seem to have tumbled off the pages of `Lord of the Flies' - and, when he is shown the mansion requisitioned for him, he proposes the unconventional: Rather than send the current residents, architect Stefan Lubert, his daughter and a few servants - to their fates as displaced persons, he proposes that they share the house with him, his wife and their son. In real life this is exactly what the author's grandfather did.

For all parties involved, including Morgan's colleagues, the situation and proposal are seen as very poor judgement at best. For Morgan's wife the military handbook suggests that for the `occupation' - to maintain a curt detachment is best and befits her role as benign occupier. She sees and feels it, initially anyway, no need to show any compassion for the `enemy'- for all Germans were guilty of what was done in their name by Hitler and his cronies. However, the dispassion that Rachael - Morgan's wife displays toward her husband, on the other hand, comes from a different place entirely: her continued bereavement over the death of their eldest son in a bombing raid back home. Morgan's younger son, Edmund is rather like his father and has no bitterness or animosity towards the `natives'.

On the German side of this strange equation is the architect Stefan Lubert the owner of said `mansion', and on the surface, he shows cultured affability towards his imposed house guests. His daughter Freda, doesn't even try to conceal the contempt she feels for the Morgan's' son now sleeping in her room. The disappearance and loss of Mother in the Allied bombing and subsequent typhoon like fire storms that engulfed her city are like a raw exposed nerve.

So the scene is set and the `players' are introduced; what follows is blend of romance, history and suspense, one to which author's style seems well suited. While the he takes some liberties with factual time line of the History, such as discussion of the Marshall Plan eight or nine months before it was actually announced. Secondly, the discussions about Potsdam Agreement and reparations are clumsily presented. However, putting these matters to one side, what you are presented with is the aftermath of war, you are shown Morgan, at work, as he tries to appease the illogical demands of Germany's post-war stakeholders - the Russians, French and Americans, his attempts to connect with the orphan feral children. The narrative is original and crisp in its delivery, and the characters, for me were well rounded. I have read some reviews that were rather negative of the characterisation, each to their, I guess. The staging is/was suitable for the struggle that follows, as well as the subsequent infidelities that occur. The author provides enough of both of these ingredients to keep the plot moving. A very good read, about a very important part of European History, which sowed the seeds for the European Economic Community and the European Union we have today.

Lastly, and it is only suggested, it would handy for any potential reader to have dictionaries in easy reach to translate German words as well as the odd obscure English word, as they read through.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book I have read for some time - compelling and believable, 28 Jun 2014
By 
S. Williams (Washington, Tyne and Wear) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Aftermath (Hardcover)
A beautifully told story about the rebuilding of a city and a country. The characters are multi-dimensional and believable. In drastic times and places - such as Hamburg in 1946 - concepts of 'good' and 'bad' are complex. Brook does not attempt to over-simplify, but depicts peoples' actions and feelings in a messy, realistic way. The clarity of his language - familiar from Radio 4's 'thought for the day' - is matched by few writers working today. I used to live in Luebeck and had close English and German friends there and in Blankenese - two of the locations in the story - so the locations resound. As I read, I had the sense that the story really MEANT something to the author - and at the end, I literally gasped as I realised why.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A moving, often shocking, always gripping and historically fascinating read, 25 Aug 2014
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This review is from: The Aftermath (Kindle Edition)
This is a great yarn, set in an extraordinary period about which not a great deal has been written in English - devastated and occupied Germany immediately after the end of the Second World War. In some ways, the novel reminded me of one of my favourite novels, E M Forster's 'A Passage to India' dealing as it does with the complexities of the relations between the occupying British and the Germans, who are as alien to them - and vice versa - as are the Indians to the British in the Forster novel. The almost unnaturally unprejudiced hero, Colonel Lewis, the Governor of Hamburg, is the 'Fielding' character who bridges the yawning gap between the victors and the vanquished, and a moving and ingenious story has been written dealing with the consequences of the bold and unconventional decision he takes at the start of his posting. The novel has been meticulously researched, and I enjoyed it as much for the historical insights it offers as for the story itself. There is a very minor criticism I have with the plot itself which in no way detracted from my enjoyment of the novel - it perhaps even enhanced it. To voice it would, however, give too much away!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Aftermath - Rhidian Brook, 28 Jun 2013
This review is from: The Aftermath (Hardcover)
A brilliant idea for a story, undeniably beautifully written. In turns heartbreaking and life-affirming, this novel has been an a re-education regarding life in post-war Germany. Historically, and romantically, it is a reminder that there are two sides to every story.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars (3.5 stars) Impressive historical evocation of 1946 Hamburg, 13 April 2013
By 
Roman Clodia (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Aftermath (Hardcover)
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I have a mixed reaction to this book: the historical setting is evoked excellently as the Allies attempt to re-build Germany after the end of the war. The feral children living in the rubble of the bombed city, the presence of British, American, French and Russian forces, the aftermath of Nazism and the reconstruction of German society all feel realistic and nuanced - and Hamburg makes a nice change from post-war Berlin.

That said, the foreground and, especially, the characters feel painted in with very broad strokes, becoming almost caricatures or clichés: the `good' German, the Nazi-loving daughter, the grieving mother, the innocent child. I found Lewis, the English colonel, especially hard to get a coherent handle on: on one hand he's a stiff-upper-lip Englishman who doesn't have the emotional intelligence to `get' what his wife has experienced or to manage the distance between them; yet, on the other, he is the only one of the Allied forces with the moral stature to feel compassion for the defeated Germans and make the leap to a post-war mentality - the two sides of his character feel too obviously constructed for the needs of the plot and rub along awkwardly together.

Some of the writing is a bit lazy and awkward: Mercedes cars are described a couple of times as `world-conquering', odd when this is precisely the point at which Germany hasn't conquered at all; the city is `smashed', rather underwhelming as a description of a city practically razed to the ground; and there are oddly jarring stylistic moments: `Lewis took that bare, calloused hand and let that lever-arch arm yank his own up and down like a piston' - eh?

So I didn't believe in the characters or the storylines, especially that of Rachel, Lewis' wife. But the atmosphere of post-war Hamburg is done well enough to make this still a book worth reading.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One to make you think, 3 April 2013
By 
C. Bones "surreyman" - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Aftermath (Hardcover)
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Did you know that the RAF dropped more bombs on Hamburg in one weekend than the Luftwaffe dropped on London in the entire war ? That's what it says here and it helps us to understand the scale of the devastation to that city as the setting for this fine novel. In the Acknowledgements the author tells us that her story is based on her own Grandfather who is 1946 did indeed do the unthinkable and allow the German family whose house he was requisitioning to remain in residence.

And so in 1946 Colonel Lewis Morgan and his family come to live with the Luberts at a time when the Allies hardly know what their role in the post war landscape actually is and both the victors and the defeated are in many ways coping with loss and grief in equal measure. The Morgans have lost a son in the war and Herr Lubert has lost his wife. And all around them is loss and hopelessness and destruction on an almost unimaginable scale. The German people in the city are not only having to struggle with the most basic elements of survival but have also to try to prove to the British authorities that they are "Clean" of Nazi involvement before they can get any work.

The author gets the best out of this nightmarish period of history and gives us various plot-lines but it is how the individuals living at VIlla Lubert deal with the way their war experiences have changed them that provides the dramatic charge for her novel. Ms Brook handles it all with great sensitivity and doesn't trying to overplay the drama. I think most readers will come away from this novel reflecting upon a time and a place that they are glad to have missed but having greatly enjoyed the reading experience.
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The Aftermath
The Aftermath by Rhidian Brook (Hardcover - 2 May 2013)
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