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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An honest and fascinating account of a forgotten period in history. A "must read" novel for all.
This is a historically accurate and, at times, heartbreakingly honest story of a time that is usually ignored - the immediate aftermath of the Second World War when the Allied Forces undertook the reconstruction of Germany. The novel tells the story of one British officer who is attempting his task with both honour and integrity but who seems to be isolated from other...
Published 6 months ago by D. Godec

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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars (3.5 stars) Impressive historical evocation of 1946 Hamburg
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...
Published 23 months ago by Roman Clodia


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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An honest and fascinating account of a forgotten period in history. A "must read" novel for all., 9 Sept. 2014
By 
D. Godec "booklover" (Kent, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Aftermath (Paperback)
This is a historically accurate and, at times, heartbreakingly honest story of a time that is usually ignored - the immediate aftermath of the Second World War when the Allied Forces undertook the reconstruction of Germany. The novel tells the story of one British officer who is attempting his task with both honour and integrity but who seems to be isolated from other Allied forced, his fellow officers and even his own wife, who all have their own agendas. The use of multiple points of view allow us to share the experiences of his wife, who is too caught up in her grief at the death of their eldest son to even attempt to understand his task, his youngest son, who is too young to understand the complexities of the world he inhabits, and of Lewis himself, who can see only too clearly the difficulties he faces to ever begin to express his own feeelings The use of several sub-plots are threads that are woven together to create a picture of a world where old certainties have been shattered and no new ones yet in place. A "must read" novel for anyone interested in the modern world. Aftermath is an honest and intelligent work, beautifully written and constructed which grips our interest throughout.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I think it ranks with The Reader as the best portrayal of Germany at that period, 8 Dec. 2014
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This review is from: The Aftermath (Kindle Edition)
Rhidian Brook perfectly captures life in the British Zone of Germany in 1946, when members of the Control Commission were able to be joined by their families and largely move into large houses requisitioned from their German owners. I know because I was there - as an eight year old. Mr Brook bases his story on the true experiences of his grandfather, who served in the CCG, as my father did.
It covers the dilemmas of relationships between the occupying authorities and the German population. Had they been Nazis? (A term that even today Germans never use. Always "National Socialists")
And there was the relationship between those British officials and the wives and children they had hardly seen during the war years.
I still have vivid memories of the voyage to Cuxhaven and the mouth opening horror of seeing the ruins of Hamburg as we went by train down to equally ruined Cologne, and then to Aachen, to live for the next nine years in a stunning house built by a Bauhaus architect - who of course had to live elsewhere (but was paid rent).
In the Aftermath Col. Lewis invites the others of a large villa overlooking the Elbe, to share part of the house he takes over. I remember visiting a school friend in one of those very houses.
Mr Brook was not born until 16 years after VE Day but he writes as if he was in Hamburg in 1946. A fascinating book and a remarkable achievement. I think it ranks with The Reader as the best portrayal of Germany at that period.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth Reading., 7 Oct. 2014
This review is from: The Aftermath (Paperback)
The Aftermath opens in 1946 three years after the Anglo-American air raids set the city of Hamburg on fire resulting in the deaths of more than 40,000 inhabitants. Colonel Lewis Morgan is stationed in Hamburg as part of the British contingent charged with rebuilding the devastated city and the de-Natzification of its citizens.One year after the war has ended thousands remain displaced and Morgan is requisitioned a grand house on the banks of the Elbe where he is joined by his family.However, when his family arrives it is to discover that Morgan has chosen to allow the current German occupants to live on the upper floor of the house rather than have them evicted. Initially at least, this does not go down very well with Morgan's wife, Rachel.

The strength of this novel lies in the superb management of various lines of narrative tension alongside a painfully clear portrait of Germany in defeat, springing several surprises as it shows how politics and history infiltrate even the most intimate moments of its characters emotional lives.

I enjoyed this book immensely and on many levels and would recommend it as an insight into the effects of and the aftermath of war particularly on the defeated. I founds the characters well drawn even if a couple did come across as rather stereotypical, yet I was caught up in their lives and empathised with their struggles and conflicting emotions.

If this novel did nothing else but bring home to me, to some extent, the appalling devastation suffered by German cities in the final years of the Second World War, then it was more than worth reading.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Damaged People in a Damaged Country", 7 Dec. 2013
By 
Susman "Susman" (London Mills IL) - 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 Rachel - 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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10 of 11 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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37 of 42 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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The animals have escaped from the zoo and some are roaming the city., 15 Jan. 2014
By 
Katharine Kirby "Kate" (HELSTON, Cornwall United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Aftermath (Hardcover)
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`The Aftermath' is a really special story; that rare, rich kind, that when you stop reading, you are still thinking about it, keen to return, and after you've finished, you turn back to the beginning and happily start again. This second pass means you can take it slowly and really relish the perfect writing, the assured, exhilarating use of wonderful, even extravagant words and phrases.

Shining a searchlight on what has perhaps been an overlooked period of post war life, Rhidian Brook has used the seed of an extraordinary inherited history, a family experience to grow this dramatic, descriptive, deeply moving book. Weaving German words and sentences into the narrative places us right in the middle of the action; this truly is a tale to inhabit wholeheartedly. We are part of the story, transported into their dark days.

Hamburg, one year on from the end of WWII, is a ruined city in a wrecked country, miserably paying the price for Germany's failed aggressive ambitions. Hit by more bombs in one weekend than London suffered during the entire conflict; this ash and rubble strewn landscape is `home' to a polyglot society, with previous combatants working to new purpose. `Tommies', French, `Ruskies', `Yanks' are in now positions of power over the defeated German population, planning rescue, reorganisation, rebuilding and restraining of any fledgling resistance. Shaken up and redistributed by firestorms, bombing, starvation, loss, the remnants are restless, rioting. Dressed in rag bag clothes, small children form lawless Lord of the Flies style gangs and beg for cigarettes, chocolate, sandwiches...

The Governor is Colonel Lewis Morgan DSO, a mild and moral man, promoted up through ranks. The uxorious husband of fragile damaged Rachael, who is twisted by grief, bent out of shape, in need of understanding. Lewis has his feelings bottled up, packed away; a distant but fond father to the dear young chap, Edmund, his remaining boy, as elder son Michael, died in a German bomb attack. This small family reunion is an awkward one, especially, as Lewis has invited the owners of the beautiful requisitioned mansion, beside the Elba, to stay on with them. Lubert and his daughter, together with their three staff flit about the place in a strange limbo state. Fifteen-year-old Freda has yet to surrender, to acknowledge defeat. She is fiery and stubborn, missing her mother Claudia; her father's best efforts at comfort fall short. Working in the rubble she meets her match, Berti/Albert, a dangerous liason.

Lewis has his work cut out to keep control; he does it his own way. The atmosphere is febrile, tense, frightening. A steady hand is required and he must enforce a fair and reasonable plan for the angry, demoralised, regressed and scavenging citizens. He can see all points of view. It is pleasure to watch him at work, to understand how he solves complex problems in a unique, human and English way. His heart sometimes appears frozen and he exerts justice in an unusual, but understandable way.

There are some shocking scenes, ones that remain in the mind for days, not x rated stuff, that would be too easy, no it is the moral dilemmas that engage, provoke and involve. This is I why I enthusiastically recommend The Aftermath as an excellent choice for Book Groups. There is so much to think about.

This is the best of writing and I am so pleased to have had a chance to read it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beating heart beneath the rubble, 2 Dec. 2013
This review is from: The Aftermath (Hardcover)
I read Rhidian Brook's novel at a single sitting and my memories of that day in the life of The Aftermath continue to haunt me. Brook has landed on an extraordinary moment in European history that has been occluded by the end of the Second World War in 1945 and the beginnings of the Cold War in 1948. Set in bomb-ravaged and shell-shocked Hamburg in 1946, Brook's novel uncovers a strange, disturbing, liminal world of military bureaucrats and their grieving, vengeful wives; of scavengers and sympathizers; of suffocating suspicion and the seeds of reconciliation.

Based loosely on his grandfather's post-war experiences, Brook's narrative, which originated as a screenplay, possesses that medium's spare dialogue and vivid settings. And if the reader finds it hard at times to empathize with the two families at the heart of the story -- the Morgans and the Luberts, whose requisitioned house they share as Captain Morgan takes charge of an Allied reconstruction effort tinged with retribution -- it is because the characters do not ask for it. Diminished by their suffering and their breeding, these damaged individuals struggle to articulate their fears and hopes, preferring small talk or silence to self-pity and solace. A master of the short story, Brook's genius --- for such it is, I think -- lies in his ability to capture the humanity amid the humdrum and the banal: in the sideways glance or furrowed brow; in the throwaway line or thought broken off. Like a solicitous guest, Brook never forces the conversation, never intrudes: he is a fine writer because, paradoxically, he seems such a good listener.

Just as a house and its upstairs downstairs living arrangements represent not only Hamburg, but also a divided continent and dying empires, so Brook's small novel dissects big issues with precision tools. And, in so doing, it discovers the heart still beating beneath the rubble of a ruinous war and a savage century.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read, 3 Oct. 2013
This review is from: The Aftermath (Hardcover)
Based on the experiences of the author's great grandfather, The Aftermath is a vivid portrayal of the numbing after-effects of war and the fragility that besets humanity. However, it also offers up a heart-felt reminder of how hope can exist even in bleak uncertainty. We peer into a period of the second-world war not often documented, its end in Germany and the unenviable task of the British military sent to clean up, in this case in Hamburg. Although the narrative unravels around this central theme, the real intrigue lies in the appointment of a British Colonel, Lewis Morgan, his wife Rachael and young son Edmund who against protocol, propose to share a country house with its wealthy German owner and his teenage daughter, whilst his work begins on the reorganisation of the devastated city.

The apocalyptical disarray of Hamburg is in total contrast to the refined beauty and splendour of the aristocratic country house where the Morgans take residence. The frailty of relationships in this brittle atmosphere emphasises the delicate historical period and is captured beautifully by Brook. Although it is the British who are victorious in war, the common tragedy of human loss acts as a dramatic leveller and offers us the opportunity to sympathise with characters from both sides. As the plot unravels we are drawn into a disparate world where emotional survival becomes paramount. Love and longing is a strong sentimental thread throughout the story with sadness always seemingly not far away. As the story twists and turns towards its end and without giving too much away, we also experience hope and expectation of a brighter future and a show of how man's inhumanity to man can be tempered by love even in the darkest of circumstances.

It would make a tremendous movie.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good but slightly flawed, 13 Aug. 2013
By 
Sid Nuncius (London) - See all my reviews
(No. 1 Hall OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 10 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Aftermath (Hardcover)
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I enjoyed this novel, but perhaps not quite as much as some other reviewers here. It is very good in many ways but I did have some reservations about it.

Set in post-war occupied Hamburg in 1946, the story follows the fortunes of the enlightened British Colonel Lewis trying to govern his sector with humanity, his family, some of the conquered Germans and other British occupiers, many with attitudes very different from Lewis's. Rhydian Brook writes good, readable prose and conjures the atmosphere of ruined Hamburg in the freezing winter very well. He paints good portraits of the sense and attitudes of all shades of both German and British people there, I found many of his characters convincing and learned a lot about post-war Germany.

What I found less good was the character development and interaction, which seemed a little predictable and a slightly missed opportunity to look more deeply at attitudes to victory, forgiveness and grief, so the story itself didn't really grip me. I also found that anachronisms in the language damaged the sense of period: people simply didn't say things like, "It might send the wrong message," or "Do you think?" or "You have set the bar rather high," in 1946 and, although there wasn't enough of this to ruin my enjoyment, it did jar badly and kept throwing me out of the atmosphere rather.

This is a good read in many ways, and is certainly a well-researched and well-written book; I just didn't quite think it tackled its subject as deeply as it might have done and lacked a little originality in its plot.
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The Aftermath by Rhidian Brook (Hardcover - 2 May 2013)
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