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4.3 out of 5 stars30
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 10 October 2012
I've finally found a novel sadder than the saddest story of Ford Madox Ford's The Good Soldier. Warsaw left me with tears in my eyes after reading the final chapter and epilogue.
Although tragic the plot is far from predictable however and just when you think you can guess where the characters will end up the author alters your sympathies and the direction of the story.
Ironically, or perhaps deliberately, the most sympathetic character (and most virtuous/heroic) is the good German soldier, Thomas. Yet the tragedy, melancholy, of the ghetto even infects his noble soul.
In regards to some of the philosophical and sarcastic dialogue there's a fair bit of humour (one might call it Jewish humour) to alleviate the otherwise serious tone of the novel.
I could say a lot more about this book. Aside from perhaps the ending and a set piece chapter of a character's journey from the ghetto to the gas chambers Warsaw is not necessarily a page turner. It gives the reader far too much pause in places. But I urge you to read and persist with it.
A worthwhile read, for all sorts of reasons.
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on 11 October 2012
A good book can be so for all sorts of reasons; a happy ending, characters getting their just desserts, but I find that a memorable or successful book is often considered so because of the difficult or troubling scenes such as the ones that occur in Foreman's Warsaw. These are the scenes that affect the reader so much so that they have the power to make you want to close the book or turn the page - and (despite some apprehension) I was glad to have turned the page. I enjoyed reading the background to the main characters, which drew me further into the story and helped line up the tragic events that unfold. The author does a good job of exposing the bleakness of life and the good and bad extremes of humanity as well as including a realistic portrait of the ghetto and Treblinka.
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on 14 October 2012
I'm a fan of the author's Raffles books and I received a copy of Warsaw in advance of publication. Unlike the short, witty novellas in the Raffles series Warsaw is dark, philosophical and imbued with an all too potent realism.

The hero Adam Duritz is a descendant somewhat of Dostoyevsky's Raskolnikov, torn between despair and a desire for redemption. The author states in his end note how he wrote Warsaw partly in the tradition of the nineteenth century Russian novel. Both the reader and characters go on a religious journey in this book.

The novel does not always grip the reader throughout consistently, but one is never far away from a gripping episode (whether learning about Adam's back story, travelling to Treblinka, having Thomas fence at a party or being plunged into a shoot out on the streets of Warsaw) which jolts the reader's attention or sensibility.

Although centred upon the Jews and the ghetto Warsaw also devotes time to the History and psyches of German experiences of the war, mainly through the contrasting characters of Thomas and Christian (and the memorable and entertaining character of Walter the theatre critic towards the end of the book).

You may need to read a Raffles story to cheer yourself after reading Warsaw, but can recommend it.
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on 10 October 2012
I received an advance copy of this novel from the publishers. I thought I'd like this book - but in the end I loved it. Warsaw is an example of literature as a means of creating empathy and understanding history. The narrative follows Jewish and German characters in the Warsaw ghetto. Not all of the episodes make for comfortable reading, but this is a strength rather than weakness. Striking and insightful oxymorons are used to express the conflicting passions and principles of humanity - and the twist filled plot grips to the very last page. I do not wish to spoil the story but the ending is one of the most affecting and memorable I've come across in a long time.
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on 19 October 2012
What a wonderful story, which seemed to transport me to the Warsaw Ghetto. The story follows Jessica , Adam and Thomas who all try to survive the Ghetto even though they stand on different sides. While Jessica and Adam have to deal with fear of death everyday, Thomas is coping with trying to retain his self and humanity. In this setting Foreman works a surprising and touching love story. Between Warsaw and Treblinka there is still love and friendship is possible. Besides the story there's plenty of historical information about the Ghetto, which complimented the fiction. This haunting and beautiful story leaves you cold with images of what life would have been like, together with the feeling of strength of the jewish prisoners and those who managed to survive under such brutal oppression. A special book in many ways.
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on 29 October 2012
Richard Foreman's black and dry sense of humour turns into full blown melancholy in this serious but readable novel. Anyone expecting a Raffles story or something similar should not read this book.
Warsaw made me a little uncomfortable at times and also depressed me in places but I hope like me you will be compelled to read on. The lead characters are particularly strong and you may want to have a tissue or two ready at the end. The final two chapters are superb.
Warsaw seems by far to be the author's longest book (it could have been edited a tiny bit in placed). It's probably his most important or philosophical book too. The research and history seem sound, but Foreman never forgets he's writing a novel.
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on 19 October 2012
This strong and classy novel recounts the peculiar friendship between the Jewish Policeman Adam Duritz and the German soldier Thomas Abendroth in the Warsaw ghetto in 1942.

In this powerful story the horror of the events contrasts with the elegance of the images evoked by a fine writing that doesn't lose grip with reality. This book has a layers of being literary and philosophical, but it seldom forgets that at hert it should be a good story.
As well as being a good story though I strongly recommend this book for documenting an important part of world history.
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on 25 March 2013
It seems Hero of Our Time writer Richard Foreman has again picked up his evocative pen to introduce Warsaw, the engaging story trapped in occupied Poland in 1942. Rooted in the ever horrifying subject of the Holocaust, we witness the intricate relationship network within Warsaw's ghetto, delving into the corners of menacing and victimised characters alike. Foreman's sympathetic style, manifested in the protagonist Duritz, a Jewish policeman, evokes a sense of compassion inside the reader, where the constant scare of evacuation brings terrorised characters and the reader ever closer in battle against the Nazi forces. Foreman's narration is beautiful in its imagery; his occasionally fragmented style reflects unsure thoughts in characters, portrayed with a subtly sincere tone through lines full of imagery and evocative sorrow. Effectively married together is the fatal predicament of the Nazi's intentions with stimulating philosophical insights, featuring Kierkegaard and Dickensian comparisons, existentially questioning the events through Foreman's voice yet using the fictional story to sustain it. Do not just assume this a Holocaust story for somewhat paradoxical pleasure however, for it is a story loaded with educational value, with the amount of facts embedded to rival the Imperial War Museum. At a lengthy 26 chapters, with some heavier in violence than others but some more delicate in content- both as effective as the other in narrating the different lives- it's a comfortable e-read. The bitter-sweet interpretation of the 70-year-old tragedy in Warsaw shall remain, for me, an unforgettable episode in the history of mass genocide and also in the recent history of British literature. It seems Hero of Our Time writer Richard Foreman has again picked up his evocative pen to introduce Warsaw, the engaging story trapped in occupied Poland in 1942. Rooted in the ever horrifying subject of the Holocaust, we witness the intricate relationship network within Warsaw's ghetto, delving into the corners of menacing and victimised characters alike. Foreman's sympathetic style, manifested in the protagonist Duritz, a Jewish policeman, evokes a sense of compassion inside the reader, where the constant scare of evacuation brings terrorised characters and the reader ever closer in battle against the Nazi forces. Foreman's narration is beautiful in its imagery; his occasionally fragmented style reflects unsure thoughts in characters, portrayed with a subtly sincere tone through lines full of imagery and evocative sorrow. Effectively married together is the fatal predicament of the Nazi's intentions with stimulating philosophical insights, featuring Kierkegaard and Dickensian comparisons, existentially questioning the events through Foreman's voice yet using the fictional story to sustain it. Do not just assume this a Holocaust story for somewhat paradoxical pleasure however, for it is a story loaded with educational value, with the amount of facts embedded to rival the Imperial War Museum. At a lengthy 26 chapters, with some heavier in violence than others but some more delicate in content- both as effective as the other in narrating the different lives- it's a comfortable e-read. The bitter-sweet interpretation of the 70-year-old tragedy in Warsaw shall remain, for me, an unforgettable episode in the history of mass genocide and also in the recent history of British literature.
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on 12 November 2012
It may seem strange given the subject matter and the other reviews but I thought there was quite a bit of humour in this book, although it's subtle and dark. There are lots of literary nods to Russian literature and both the author and his characters provide a wry, Yiddish slant on things. That said, the book succeeds as a tragedy, one which will move people on an emotional as well as intellectual level. I have read a couple of the author's novellas, but this will do little to prepare you for how melancholy and raw Warsaw is. The reader will probably change their opinion of all the major characters whilst reading this book, particularly Adam and Jessica.
Although a serious and historically accurate novel Warsaw is always readable and compelling, partly because the author engages us with a stage full of colourful characters. Indeed such is the strong dialogue and tension that the book could almost serve as a play of screenplay too.
The book could be edited down a little and I would have liked a map of the ghetto and footnotes or an end note to highlight what was fact and what fiction in the book, but I urge anyone with a love of history or literature to find the time to read this novel.
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on 25 March 2013
Set in 1942, Warsaw explores life - and death - in the ghetto. Jewish policeman Adam Duritz battles depression and his survival instinct is often at war with the guilt he harbours due to the requirements of his position. The novel psychologically examines Duritz' fractured sense of self, losing his "strength" as he is compelled to sentence 5 Jews a day to death in order to protect his own life. Foreman explores the dehumanisation of humanity: "officers perhaps did not notice the blood on their hands through the ink stains from continuously writing down figures in appropriate boxes".

Foreman's characterisation often subverts more traditional archetypes of World War Two. The German soldier Thomas Abendroth represents a force of goodness in the text. Adam Duritz is a troubled character; abusing his position as a Jewish police-man he still eventually invites the reader's sympathy, admiration and curiousity in his struggle with life in the Warsaw ghetto.

Warsaw is an intelligent and sensitively written novel, yet the ending also reads like a thriller and, despite the authors research and dedication to capturing a sense of history, the book is ultimately a tragic love story.
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