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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Engrossing exploration of the dark heart of the 20th Century
This is less of a gripping page turner than some of McEwan's later books, and may suffer in comparison as a result. However, it rewards on other levels. As always in McEwan the characterisation is totally convincing, but it is the book's engagement with history that really compels. McEwan takes in war, revolution and the nature of evil, and the image of the black dogs...
Published on 11 July 2001

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading but not wholly enjoyable
Typically, as with much of McEwan's work we don't find out the true base of the story till right at the end.
Black Dogs revolves around the story of a honeymooning couple in France and their confrontation with two Black Dogs.
The book starts with the perspective in the first person, describing the narrators childhood and lack of family, then moves to...
Published on 11 May 1999


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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Engrossing exploration of the dark heart of the 20th Century, 11 July 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Black Dogs (Paperback)
This is less of a gripping page turner than some of McEwan's later books, and may suffer in comparison as a result. However, it rewards on other levels. As always in McEwan the characterisation is totally convincing, but it is the book's engagement with history that really compels. McEwan takes in war, revolution and the nature of evil, and the image of the black dogs haunted my imagination as it did the characters in the book. The scenes in Berlin as the wall comes down were also memorable, but more than anything I enjoyed this book because it made me think, and because it showed that the author himself had really grappled with the themes of the book without ever losing sight of the every day reality of being human.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Engrossing Reflection on the Thrills of Violence and the Redemptive Power of Love, 10 Oct 2008
By 
John Kwok (New York, NY USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Black Dogs (Paperback)
One of his great literary triumphs, Ian McEwan's "Black Dogs" is an engrossing reflection on the thrills of violence and the redemptive power of love, set largely amidst the collapse of the Berlin Wall and a mesmerizing look back at a memorable French summer one year after the end of World War II. McEwan's novel is a most vivid fictional exploration of a marriage torn apart by the diverging political beliefs of husband and wife, Bernard and June Tremaine, as seen by their young son-in-law Jeremy. By mere happenstance Jeremy stumbles upon the rise and fall of the Tremaine's marriage, when he is asked by June to write her memoirs, shortly before her death. A few years later he hears a compelling, quite different, account of that marriage from Bernard himself, as both take a last-minute journey to a jubilant Berlin, its citizenry transfixed by the Berlin Wall's collapse. Always a keen observer of the human condition, McEwan's sparse, descriptive, and quite lyrical, prose presents a compelling portrait of Jeremy, Bernard and June, closing, most memorably, during the bright dawn of the Tremaine's marriage. An idyllic French summer marred by an unexpectedly dark reminder of the recently concluded war's demonic fury.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The dogs of Europe, 5 Oct 2012
By 
Michael Farman (PALESTINE, TEXAS, US) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Black Dogs (Paperback)
"In the Nightmare of the dark/All the dogs of Europe bark".(W.H.Auden). The underlying philosophical idea of this book is the conflict between the rational and religious views of life, as personified in the characters of the parents-in-law of the narrator, irrevocably in love but totally unable to live in harmony with each other's world view or even agree on the details of their shared memories. The post-war incident in France with the black dogs is the trigger for June's epiphany; her confrontation with evil paradoxically causing her to experience in the moment a spiritual enlightenment, separating her for ever from the naive Communist view she had shared with her husband Bernard. He is unable to comprehend or share her insights and this leads to their lifelong separation.

I seemed to detect the shadow of Freud's "Wolf Man" case history in the author's concept of the black dogs, but anyway I think they are appropriate symbols for the assault on rational thinking engendered by the evils unleashed in World War 2.

As one would expect from McEwan, the book is fluently written and a compulsive read. It engages a serious subject without a trace of pretentiousness. It has the effect of really good writing: it lingers in the mind long after putting it down.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading but not wholly enjoyable, 11 May 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Black Dogs (Paperback)
Typically, as with much of McEwan's work we don't find out the true base of the story till right at the end.
Black Dogs revolves around the story of a honeymooning couple in France and their confrontation with two Black Dogs.
The book starts with the perspective in the first person, describing the narrators childhood and lack of family, then moves to switching between third and first person to describe the story of this couple and their subsequent lives after the encounter.
No Doubt a good plot and and an engrossing read the book will nevertheless dissapoint many McEwan fans because it does not reach the flow of 'Amsterdam' or 'Enduring Love'.
Worth reading but not wholly enjoyable
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Book, 18 Feb 2013
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This review is from: Black Dogs (Kindle Edition)
The genius strikes again! yes, it is different to other McEwans, but will entrance in a slightly different way. More lyrical and slower paced than many of his novels
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favourite books of all time, 14 July 2011
This review is from: Black Dogs (Paperback)
I love the way Ian McEwan splits people. He is one of my favourite writers but at times I could strangle him. I was bored to tears by the drawn-out and completely unbelievable 'Saturday' and disgusted by 'The Comfort of Strangers' (as well as some of his early short stories), but novels like 'Enduring Love', 'Atonement' and 'Black Dogs' make up for things in a big way.

Black Dogs is intense, fascinating and exciting. The characters are believable, intriguing and, as in a lot of McEwan novels, fairly loathsome! I've lent this book to some of my friends and it has split them too - some said they couldn't get into it at all whereas others were gripped from the first page, as I was. I'm sure Ian McEwan likes the split he generates - buying one of his books is like gambling, but I'm very glad I gambled on this one. I remember a shiver running down my spine the day after i finished it - when I walked past a bookies that had a big photo of two black dogs in the window. Gamble and read this - and if you don't like it, you'll probably love some of his other stuff...
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The sadness of love, 1 May 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Black Dogs (Paperback)
This time McEwan holds the tension between the opposites though his characters cannot (he doesn't kill them off as in Amsterdam). Brilliant insights into what keeps us apart, the wall that doesn't come down between a man and wife, even when there is love. The dogs are terrifying. I was held throughout. It gave me hope, and energy. A wonderful book.
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2.0 out of 5 stars I ploughed through it, 21 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Black Dogs (Kindle Edition)
This book was generally disappointing but for some reason I stuck with it. If felt as though i was reading it for an exam. Not really getting into it but enjoying some of the prose.
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5.0 out of 5 stars dark at times, 29 Dec 2013
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This review is from: Black Dogs (Paperback)
There is always a dark undertone to his books and this delivers that..for me his best up until Saturday was released.
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3.0 out of 5 stars So-so Book, 21 Oct 2011
This review is from: Black Dogs (Paperback)
Perhaps I didn't get the hidden meanings in this Ian McEwan story . I found that I had to be patient with it, which surprised me. His writing must have improved a lot since he wrote this book. I loved "Enduring Love", "Atonement" and in particular, "Saturday", although I wasn't too keen on "Solar". Glad I read it though.
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Black Dogs
Black Dogs by Ian McEwan
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