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4.6 out of 5 stars14
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 2 October 2006
This book really crept up on me as a true classic. Concerning everything from the mystery of faith to rebellious children (fantastically so, in actually attempting to kill one's father) Heller pulls off an original, insightful and emotionally involving re-telling of a millenium old story.

Having read, and re-read, "Catch-22" and "Something Happened" before laying a finger on "God Knows" I was already a true Hellerite but this book surprised and delighted me. There are certain similarities with "Something Happened" which was writen a decade earlier (coincidently it is stil a brilliant read) - the character's fatherly concern for his children, the sometimes uncomfortably base description of his libido and the outpour of regrets over lost love. Both books are written from the character's point of view but so skillfully that it feels entirely genuine; some paragraphs that seem to be repeated are in fact careful embellishments on previous discolsures that allow real insight for the reader.

I think this is still my second favorite Heller but it is a majestic masterpiece as much as Catch-22. However much you know about the story of King David this book will make you feel like you've known him all his life. An extremely rewarding read and Heller's most sensitively written and subtle work. I recommend it to anyone.
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on 24 May 1999
Joseph Heller comically characterizes the life of King David. With a few wars, some concubines, and laugh out loud jokes, the Old Testament has never been more entertaining. A true classic, READ it!
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on 10 June 2010
I owned this book for a long time before I actually read it, most likely because the idea seemed a little strange, I guess. It took some time getting used to all of the Jewish names, and I haven't read the bible for a long time, which might even be considered a prerequisite for reading this book (The Old Testament). The story is about David, King of the Jews (the one who killed Goliath, among other things). It is very similar in style to "Something Happened", in that the author constantly goes backwards and forward in time, and constantly reminisces about various events and thoughts. But I enjoyed it overall, and I have a great appreciation for Heller's sense of humour and intelligence. Funny, thoughtful and creative.
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on 27 March 2002
Grab the nearest copy of the bible, read Samuel 1 and 2 and Kings, and then pick up this book. The story of King David, how it deserves to be told. My favourite of his books and without doubt one of the cleverest, witty and thoughoutful books i've read.
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on 29 April 1999
This is how it goes: this was the first book by Heller I ever read; can you believe I was actually disappointed with "Catch 22" when I read it afterwards? Well, it's the truth. Yet, "Catch 22" is very high on my list of favorites. This one is higher. "God knows" is a lesson on how to rewrite (and reintepretate) a millenium-old story. An absolutely brilliant insight on how David might have felt about his life, his God and, ultimately, his death. Capturing David not as the biblically noble king, but as a shepherd-turned-king is most probably quite closer to the truth - and certainly more enjoyable. Paper is too cheap for this.
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on 15 July 1999
I had to try hard to keep myself from giving in to my initial reaction of, "that's blasphemous!" many times in the book. On further inspection I always tended to see a very different picture than the surface would seem to describe. Instead of the borderline heretical picture of David that a 20th Century Christian might get without good study, I found an interesting character who actually strengthened my personal faith in a number of ways. The honest portrayal of David as a person who really has some issues with his God, but deep down really still has the requisite faith struck a chord as being very relevant to me and to most modern-day readers who may struggle with religion in todays society.
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on 6 July 2013
I enjoyed this years ago when I read it when it was first published, and reading it again recently, I have enjoyed the humour even more!
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on 24 March 1999
I wouldn't say this book was as good as Catch-22, but it is close. I prefer this telling of the story of David over the one in the Bible. Reading this novel, I felt like I knew King David, and I hated finishing it because I felt like i had lost a friend. It is funny and very moving, the best of Heller.
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on 25 September 2006
I love Joseph Heller, and when I came across a reference for this novel in something I read by Kurt Vonnegut, I raced out to find it. And let me tell you it was most definitely worth the wait to get it imported from the states.

King David tells all in this, Heller's most overtly entertaining novel. Laced with near-blasphemous puns and some pointedly different takes on the events of the Books of Samuel and Kings, David, flawed, unapologetic and ultimately filled with a rare pathos, relives his life as a young shepherd, as a giant-killer, and as the father of Solomon, his workman-like but definitely not wise son and heir.
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on 17 June 2015
Heller's off-beat account of the life and times of King David is irreverent, bawdy and funny. He clearly knows his Old Testament well and, through the mouth of the aging, enfeebled and cynical David, offers an entertaining interpretation of what was really going on in all its human imperfection, rather than treating every sentence of the scriptures as a lesson in morality. Hold tight for a roller-coaster ride though naked ambition, lust, rape, incest, paranoia, murder, sibling rivalry, tribal feuding, war-mongering, connivance and self-interest. This is probably the most enlightening book I will read this decade.
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