5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 8 October 2008
I stumbled accross this in a charity shop for 50p and as I had vague recollections of seeing the film a good few years ago I thought I'd give it a go.
And? well I'm glad I did. I agree with the other review in so much as this novel does not seem to receive much (if any) acclaim, however, I loved it.
The premise is intriguing and the book grips from the very first page to the (thought provoking and scary) last page, it's well written and tightly plotted.
It kept me away from some (much needed) sleep was finished in 1 sitting, which is really the highest praise I can give it. Recommended, highly.
I'm off to search out some more from this author.......
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 6 September 2000
Ira Levin is somewhat underrated as an author. His highly cinematic style is taut, spare and effective. His plots are exciting, and in books like Rosemary's Baby and The Stepford Wives he shows a rare insight into the female psyche that people like Martin Amis can only dream about. This isn't one of his girl-friendly books, but it is exciting and hugely readable.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 30 November 2011
This was a thoroughly enjoyable thriller. Despite knowing the plot I still really liked this.
It is very fast paced, well written and even amusing at times.
It does require a certain amount of suspension of disbelief but it is so well done that I didn't really notice any of the possible lack of realism.
The central character, Leibermann is really well portrayed and makes a welcome change from the usual hero of thrillers.
With the benefit of hindsight it probably gives too much credit in portraying some of the Nazis who fled to South America as evil geniuses. Josef Mengele seems to have been a psychotic killer rather than a serious scientist and his time in South America was somewhat seedy.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 23 December 2005
The Boys From Brazil by Ira Levin, not to be mistaken for the chronicles of Brazilian football’s greatest players.
I am amazed there hasn’t been much fanfare or reverence awarded to this novel. The book never seems to feature on any best novel shortlist, well it definitely makes my shortlist.
The story revolves around Yakov Lieberman an aging Nazi Hunter, a sort of pertinent and righteous James Bond. After years of bringing to justice numerous Nazi luminaries and faced with a general public apathy for his work, one final chance of stardom beckons. The long awaited capture of the cruel Dr Mengele of Auschwitz infamy that in the name of science committed heinous crimes. The plot seems very fantastic and the only way to keep secrets of this magnitude is to have one secret keeper. However, it is still a terrific thriller that delves into the nature-nurture debate and different motives behind justice.
If this book does nothing else, it will encourage you to find out the real people and facts behind the holocaust.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 27 December 2011
My first book by the author, and I don't think it will be my last....
Dr Josef Mengele is alive and kicking in Brazil, he is at the centre of a plot to begin the reintroduction of the 3rd Reich. 94 middle aged men must die on specific dates in order for the plan to come into fruition, but standing in his way are an aging Nazi hunter and his newly appointed apprentice.
Can they stop Mengele in time?
An interesting concept and well written, at time the plot was given away a little earlier that would have liked but all in all a very good read. Probably not one that I will revisit but one that I will remember.
on 13 October 2012
What can I say about this book?! I reluctantly found myself reading it. for one the cover is rather distracting!!! Reading it on the train on a number of occasions it would attract most peoples gaze - an awkward air of embarrassment - you can't quite tell whether someone thinks you're a secret Nazi - Swastika Loving reader (for all those average minded joes out there) or that what you hold in your hand is a true/accurate piece of historical story-telling. I would opt for the latter.
I can't say this was my first choice of reads - definitely wouldn't say by author either! I will - however - admit this is my first Ira Levin book and it had me gripped from page 1. It does have it's fault, the writing style at times was a bit awkward. The first chapter for example had my head spinning, none of the characters were named, rather they were described to the reader i.e.. the blond, the dark haired one, the man in the white suit. So, you can only imagine when the narrative was picking up in this chapter it wasn't easy keeping up with the pace of things! This was the slow chapter, but like they say, if the first page doesn't grip you the rest of the book won't! Luckily for Levin, I was intrigued by this unusual writing style and decided to fight through it.
The plot / narrative only got better as I read on. I was particularly intrigued by the way narrative was dealt with by Levin. Each character had his say - so from that point of view - I was able to tell where things were - what was going on & how other's felt about this unobtainable almost crazy mission they've been placed on.
Suffice to say, it has elements of true historical facts implemented in the story telling - Dr Mengele was the crazed `Angel of death' and with his mission to complete the re-birth of Hitler! All this, of-course, would make for a good read. There is absolutely no doubt about that, the syntax was way to over descriptive when you really wanted the story to JUST pick up and move on. Many a times there was unnecessary descriptive writing going on - obviously a wonderful tool to aid the reader - but really - there is a time and a place for moments like that! I did also notice the narrative would digress off the point - so when you went back to the original scene created in your head, you'd find yourself having to read - re-read to build up suspense and imagery losing the initial readers' experience which is slightly sad. All in all, my first Levin book, was a pleasant surprise. Different, very different.
on 11 January 2012
I should start by setting the scene. I'm a 26 year old man, I'm too young to have even heard of the film (well, sort of), and spotted this book on a shelf in a well-known high street book retailer. The swastika on the cover made me pick it up, owing to my love of all things WWII, and I read the back. "I'll have that for Christmas, please", I said to the girlfriend.
I am elated I did. What a novel! Just up my street and likely up yours too if you enjoy suspense. An interest in the Nazi period will also set you in good stead.
The main thing this book has going for it is the gorgeously devilish plot which seems today even more possible (and therefore more plausible) than it likely did when written. Aside from the gist outlined on the rear cover I was in utter ignorance as to where this story might lead me, but mention of Josef Mengele and Nazi hunters gripped me from the outset and held me tight throughout.
The writing style is a little choppy and unclear at times but Levin makes up for these minor shortcomings with witty humour, thrills, chills and - allow me to reiterate - a fabulous story: such evil genius. When the plot's main bombshell was dropped (well just before actually as I guessed just in advance what was to come) the overarching thought for me was, `I wish I'd come up with this gem.' Excellent, 4/5.
P.S. I have no idea what the inclusion of the Cain introduction was supposed to add. It's short and merely an appraisal.
on 15 March 2015
The Boys from Brazil by Ira Levin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I saw a great TalkingScarlet production of Ira Levin's play Deathtrap back in my Eastbourne days, but I'm pretty sure that The Boys From Brazil is the first of his novels I've read. The book is an easy read and is certainly a page-turner. I couldn't wait to discover how this intricate plot was going to unravel itself.
Using veiled and not-so-veiled representations of genuine people, Levin's tale invents a chilling scenario in which vile Auschwitz doctor, Mengele, believes he can bring about a Fourth Reich through the misuse of science. I read some reviews dating from the book's original 1970s publication which were critical of the science fiction at the heart of the tale. (I can't be more precise without giving away a key plot line.) Reading it now, when the science fiction has become actual science fact, adds an extra scary aspect.
The main characters are pretty much all either good or evil and don't have a tremendous amount of depth to their portrayals. However, Levin's scene setting is nicely done and I found it easy to imagine each location. I thought the plot was perfectly paced, enough obfuscation to keep me guessing, but not so much as to drag, and I loved the final chapter. I know there has been at least one major film of this book and it would translate well to the big screen. Perhaps it's time for a remake?
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 2 February 2012
I bought this for the Kindle on a daily deal for 99p. Having seen the film 30 years ago and consigned it to back of my memory banks, I felt the time was right to revisit. And oh boy was it a good decision.
Ira Levin created some of the most iconic novels of the 70s - this one, The Stepford Wives, Rosemary's Baby, Sliver. The man was a creative genius, turning his hand to genuinely tense thrillers with widely different subject matter.
Anyway, back to 'Boys'. Levin taps into the 'Nazi-hunting' phenomenon of the late 60s/early 70s to bring a terrifying glimpse of what could happen if the Nazis found themselves reborn. A young Jew wanting to join the hunters finds himself witness to the plans of a Nazi cell down in the Amazon. Before he is dispatched by burly Nazis, he manages to place a call to renowned Nazi Hunter Yakov Liebermann, who is at a loss to explain what he heard.
Much of the novel is devoted to the declining fortunes of the hunters. What was previously a well-funded organisation is now losing it's backers. After all, there are only so many Nazis to catch. Liebermann believes he is on the trail of Josef Mengele, Angel of Death in Hitler's most trusted circle. An intelligent, yet wholly evil individual devoted to experimentation on children to prolong the Aryan genes. As Liebermann tries to unravel the mystery, 65 year old men suddenly start dropping dead in apparently unconnected circumstances.
Levin brings his characters to life brilliantly. I loved the way he describes Mengele's thoughts - you can feel the hate for the Jews coming off the page/screen, and also his intense dislike for anyone or anything which does not fit the Aryan ideal. There is also a moral issue inherent with the 'new Jews' who would rather kill the Nazis than bring them to trial, and this presents a huge dilemma for Liebermann - does he continue to parade the actions of the Nazis in front of the world so the globe can see what they did must never be repeated? Or does he take a swifter justice?
A tremendous read which zipped along for me far too quickly. I read it in 2 sittings as I couldn't put the damn thing down!
on 3 November 2013
This was a very quick and easy read, which is only really resolved in the last half of the book. You don't really know why men are being killed off by Nazi's especially when they have no affiliation to any Nazi party. However you can begin to make assumptions if you have any idea about Mengeles and the high proportions of blonde, blue eyed children in parts of South America born after the collapse of the Nazi regime. What I found most scary about the book (and it was written almost 40 years ago), is how people stick to their beliefs of how some groups are not worthy to live and should be exterminated, and this is still going on today. The biggest issue I had about the book was the ending. While it was fiction, using real people gives and emphasis of reality and the ending didn't stick to this. Overall an enjoyable thriller which made me want to research more about what I already knew about the `Angel of Auschwitz' and the atrocities he undertook.