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4.5 out of 5 stars126
4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 22 April 2013
I read the first five books in the Station series (Zoo, Silesian, Stettin, Potsdam, Lehrter) in sequence and without interruption and they make for an excellent, well paced tale of how two uncommitted people (a cynical journalist and a hedonistic film star) are moulded by what is going on around them and what is being done to them, until they become totally committed and prepared to take enormous risks and put themselves in great danger.
The series also paints a credible picture of life in Nazi Germany and in the immediate post war Germany.
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on 12 August 2013
This is the second book I have read from this author. A very good blend of fact an fiction put to good effect to bring this tale to life. I went to the trouble of looking at a 1935 map of Germany and a 1947 stadtplan of Berlin. The map of Germany was helpful but Berlin stadtplan was even then dividing the city into east and west Berlin. But I did manage to find about by of the places mentioned and this added to the enjoyment of the book.
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on 7 October 2013
This is the first novel I have read by David Downing but it will not be my last. The plot, characters and mores of the Germany just before the start of the 2nd World War were all well described. I partcularly liked the descriptions of the travel methods pertaining at the time especially rail travel. I felt that was well researched and faithful to its time. The plot was intriguing and entertaining throughout the book. An excellent read.
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on 1 August 2014
it is difficult to see why this series is so popular. altho well researched and decently plotted, DD simply cannot write. it is one long list of street-map descriptions, train schedules, and menu choices-- usually potato soup & sausage. no characterization, wooden dialog, even the intrinsically exciting bits are so flatly described they don't raise a pulse. this was my first in the series and will be my last.
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on 11 July 2012
There's a lot to like about Silesian Station and it's a step up from the first book in the series, Zoo Station. The characterization is richer and more keenly observed, and the plotting is excellent, interweaving a number of strands that collectively keep the dramatic tension high throughout the story. The historical context is well realised, both in relation to the larger macro-politics across the continent in the lead up to the start of hostilities, but also the everyday realities with respect to the diverse circumstances and views of people within communities, and how politics and communal relations played out in different locales (Berlin, the Polish border, Moscow, Prague and so on). Whilst the prose is quite workman-like, Downing nevertheless captures the sights and sounds, the cinema and cafes, the streets and apartment living, the fashions and pastimes, and the hopes and fears of people in difficult situations. The result is a rich, rewarding and entertaining read that steadily builds in tension and is satisfyingly resolved.
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on 26 September 2013
I read this on holiday on my Kindle. I kept waiting for something to happen and frankly it never did. There are endless descriptions of train journeys and the stations the main character uses which to those of us not totally familiar with the Berlin rail system mean nothing.
I found this book dull and having finished it, I wonder why I bothered.
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on 16 May 2013
I read Zoo Station first and couldn't wait to order this one, and I'm now reading Stettin Station. I particularly like Downing's style of writing. He injects humour into a story set in a time when there wasn't much to laugh about. I'm fascinated with the history of berlin pre- and during the war, and he relates this in a very interesting way.
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on 31 March 2013
Covering the days leading up to the outbreak of war on 1 September 1939, this second outing with the journalist and double-double agent, John Russell, has a multi-layered story that still works. Elements are the rapidly worsening situation of the Jews, the lead-up to the Nazi-Soviet non-aggression pact, Nazi schemes to destroy Poland coupled with Polish obstinacy and Franco-British attempts to avoid their Polish guarantee, and the antiwar sentiments but passive fatalism of most ordinary Germans. Russell is in the thick of the action but what lifts the book above many of its rivals is the characterisation. With this volume, there is an even more nuanced picture of his girlfriend Effi and fine portrayal of the other players. Moreover, now I am confident that we can expect a coherent, wartime saga with teeth. My only regret is that I can see that the next volume in the series takes place in late 1941. A lot of interesting life (and death) will have been skipped in the interval.
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on 3 April 2011
The book starts with a young Jewish girl making a journey to Berlin.

The mystery of what happened to her, and why she never arrived, runs through the book, as John Russell investigates with his girlfriend Effi.

The book describes his travels and experiences, in Berlin and Eastern Europe, as a journalist in the weeks before war breaks out, and how this affects him and Effi. He is recruited as an agent by the German SD, the US and the Soviets, and walks a fine line between his principles and their demands and threats.

The different threads of the story entwine together until a nail-biting climax is reached in the last few pages, just as war is declared.

As well as being an excellent thriller, this book evokes the feelings and atmosphere of a country and a people being inexorably drawn into a war by their leaders, and the last weeks of peacetime life in Berlin. After reading this book you will never again believe that Hitler made the trains run on time!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 17 October 2013
I prefer a good crime novel but having read Zoo Station I decided to buy the others in the series when they were on special. Silesian Station covers events in Berlin in the summer of 1939. John Russell, the protagonist, is caught up in the intelligence business - blackmailed by the Nazis into giving the Russians false intelligence reports but doing a little side work for the Americans. There is also a subplot about a missing Jewish girl but that I found less than convincing. What I like about these books is that John Russell willingly works for the Russians. This is a novel approach and probably more realistic than just spying for the Brits. It highlights the "anybody but the Nazis" approach that I suspect many thinking people adopted. The atmospheric detail is very good. I felt that I was in pre war Berlin and Eastern Europe with all it's inconveniences and sense of threat.
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