5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
I originally heard about this book from a publisher and whilst I was a little wary in regard to the subject matter, I thought that it would be more than interesting to see what could occur in an alternate history timeline especially with the modern advances in technology.
What this book is, and the reader has to remember, is that it’s a satire, which whilst it may not always come across as such with the translation, is something that can and will at times scare the reader as they can see how things that we take as every day now can be turned to further a cause as well as a get a message across.
The Hitler within the pages is a person that the reader will find fascinating, the way he has to adapt to our world, the way he see’s modern problems and the way in which a mind can twist words to play not only to the reader but also to the other cast members within. All round, it’s a book that is quite easy to read multiple pages of, has what feels like a firm hand on the modern world and all round gives the reader something to not only think about but to question which overall is perhaps the main point of a satire.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I cant think when I've enjoyed a popular paper back quite as much as I have this book and therefore I heartily recommend it.
There are some of the staples of time travel science fiction here, the protagonist, in this case Hitler with his unique perspective, encounters all the modern or interim innovations and developments responding to them as someone of his own earlier and different age. Its humorous, and that's the main point often in science fiction time travel fiction, but it also gives you occasion to think about the mundane or ordinary that is presented in this way. This was one of the great things about Terry Pratchett's Discworld series.
Vermes starts out simple enough, Hitler has been transposed from his more immediate setting in the middle of the war, the dress and behaviour of young people who meet him bewilders him as a consequence, their dress and skateboards but slowly, and I think the pace is excellent, one mod con after another is introduced, ring tones, mobile phones, "the mouse", the internetwork, wikipedia.
The political aspect of the humour and satire is done well too, for instance Hitler's thinking about the turks from his being taken in by a turkish news stand operator through his rise to youtube and television personality, to his meeting with modern day "nationalists", ie nazis and their response to him. This was something which had been done already to a certain extent by satirical political humourists like the team behind Iron Sky which had "moon nazis" visiting earth and beating up present day represenatives of thuggish fascism.
I dont believe that this book is particularly courting controversy, Hitler is not just any figure for history and that's understandable but this to me is no more contentious in its use of Hitler than Benny Hill sketches or Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator. If anything fascism and staples of fascism such as the Furher Principle appear as ludicrous as they were in practice, sometimes Hitler criticises in others the behaviour which was typical of himself during the war.
However, just as there are repeated misunderstandings as to meanings between Hitler and his TV production team, the press and those viewing his material, such as the repeated "the jews are no laughing matter" idea, it is not hard to see how some pretty serious, dangerous thinking was then and now easily misinterpreted as being more innocuous than they really were/are.
So for a popular read is proves almost as thought provoking as it is amusing and entertaining. Recommended.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 9 April 2015
A supremely well observed indictment of our superficial, novelty-obsessed and politically-correct culture - cuts very close to the bone, which is probably why various reviewers here couldn't deal with it. Well informed about history, it doesn't rely on cheap laughs but sets up the various incidents in a brilliantly (and chillingly) believable manner. Extremely well written and translated - half of the fun is the use language, both Hitler's and 'ours' - this turns out to be a book one can't put down, as one observes with a perfect mix of delight (because it's so well written) & horror (because of what it actually means) the steady rise of this revenant... A triumph.
88 of 99 people found the following review helpful
I can guess what you're thinking: "That cover.... is that .... ?" And then, "But it says it's funny....?!"
I can see from some other reviews and comments around that this is appalling to some, that the concept of a comedic book about one of the most evil men who ever lived is abhorrent. I can understand that. But I also think that comedy, and satire in particular has a great deal of value in making us think about situations and people in ways we might not have before.
I imagine a few people (like me) will consider themselves irreverent and try this because of the 'shock' value. I know I saw the fantastically simple but instantly recognisable cover and was sold. Thing is, this isn't written for its shock value. At least, I don't think that's it's major point. It's not disrespectful. It's certainly not cheap laughs and stereotypes. This is a well-thought-out, witty and very relevant satire on modern life, on the media, on our own sense of humour. At times it's frightening how like sheep people can be, were then, still are.
We have to take one giant leap for it to work - Adolf Hitler from 1945 suddenly wakes up in modern-day Germany. We never find out how, even he doesn't spend too long questioning. To immerse yourself in what happens after, you just have to accept it. Initially disorientated, he doesn't let his unfamiliar surroundings faze him for long. A kind-hearted newspaper seller takes him under his wing and is the first of many to see the Führer as a fully-in-character comedy impersonator. Soon TV producers come calling and a slot on a comedy show beckons. What was once a hypnotic despot is now a hypnotic comedy performer. Is this the point? That we can only laugh at the ravings of a madman now, now that our society would not take him seriously?
However much the Führer rants, raves and talks politics, his new contemporaries applaud his brave comedic insights into the current world climate and his 'witty' outlook of Germany's past. It's something you think you might find appalling. After all, this is Adolf Hitler. But even the 'Jewish question' is well handled. I was worried about that. Of course racist sentiments are spouted by our protagonist, and we never ever feel sympathy for him, but with the first-person perspective and everyone constantly reminding him that as a comedy topic "the Jews are no laughing matter" and Hitler agreeing that they are "absolutely right", the author gets away without making his lead overly repellent (as a fictional Führer), you do keep wanting to see what will happen.
The modern world finding Hitler a comedy genius is itself pretty funny, as we are meant to find it: in some ways it is frightening - can we not see Evil in front of our faces? It does say a lot about the world today that we would very likely find this kind of thing 'post-modern', ironic, and think ourselves very witty for declaring it so. How clever are we that can laugh at his comedic genius? In many ways this makes us no different to the many who followed blindly back in the 20s and 30s. Which of course makes it all the funnier in the book. Hitler's speeches are hilarious at times - his old, trademark style of speechmaking, his old speeches and phrases themselves used but to a vastly different audience. But maybe not such a different one in many respects. Gullible in a different way? I did think reading this: if a man appeared claiming to be Hitler, looked like him, dressed like him, orated like him - he would either end up in a mental hospital or on YouTube. I had a chill in one scene when Hitler gives a speech (though I'm not certain, I believe it's a direct copy of a real one he gave) in which he spouts about blood and sacrifice - truly horrific - but his TV crew interpret it as an elegy for a recently deceased colleague. While it's funny, it's also an indictment of our sensibilities. You want him locked away, yet you want to see what other honours this society will laud him with.
My favourite sections of the book were those that introduced the Führer to modern technology, the more traditional 'comedy' segments. His views on TV shopping channels and cookery shows had me in stitches, for example: "My jaw dropped. Providence had presented the German Volk with the wonderful, magnificent opportunity for propaganda, and it was being squandered on the production of leek rings." He discovers 'Vikipedia', discusses with us his views on the 20th-century history that he missed, and smugly compares his own YouTube viewing figures to that of Chaplin's 'The Great Dictator'. Again though, we are not allowed to forget who this is - every technological advance he sees only as a potential tool for creating a new Reich. Humour with real bite.
How people react to him is fascinating - most find the 'Heil Hitler' amusing, his refusal to get out of character admirable, his improvisation astounding. And all that is funny. Yet the author also touches on the tragic - the elderly Jewish woman who cannot CANNOT find this national sensation funny, remembering the atrocities he (or the person he is impersonating) committed, the Nazi-haters who don't see satire but die-hard National Socialism. The National Socialists for whom he is TOO extreme. It is the masses, as usual who are 'led' en masse to one opinion of him.
I loved this. The translation from the German is excellent, and the only reason I haven't given this 5 stars is because there are references to modern-day Germany that I didn't follow (references to contemporary political figures and situations), and I also found a few of the Führer's speeches and thoughts bordered on overlong. Only a few though. Most of this is perfectly-paced and wittily-written.
You'll never read another book like it. I'm Jewish myself and found it original, hilarious and far from shallow. Very scary too. It treads the path of satire carefully. With fewer and fewer people around who can remind us in person of what Adolf Hitler did to so many, it is vitally important that this is a topic that never dies. Satire is one way of keeping his revolting ideology in the public consciousness - we must never be deluded into adulation of such a creature. A new generation can enjoy and ponder on this book, and not let the past die.
Review of a Netgalley advance copy.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 22 March 2015
It can't be easy to translate humour - particularly one which has so much to say about contemporary German culture - but this was absolutely hilarious and very accessible. An excellent translation. I did love the very acerbic digs at 'ironic' racist humour - Hitler's being very sincere, but people take it as ironic. Some hilarious speeches, neatly capturing the tone of Hitler's self-aggrandising style. An excellent book which really made me explore my assumptions about modern media.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Adolf Hitler wakes up in modern day Berlin and people think he’s a satirical impersonator who never breaks character. In fact, he’s so good at being Hitler the media give him a platform. So the delusional Hitler plans his comeback whilst the public can’t get enough of this new celebrity.
Some may see Look who’s back as an example of poor taste due to the subject matter, however I think having Hitler as the protagonist is an interesting choice for highlighting the moral of the story being told. There are many subtle comparisons between how Hitler used the media for propaganda during his rise to power in the 20s and how the book unfolds, while the story evolves around Hitler, the underlying message if anything the shows the power of so called Numedia.
A thought provoking, scary tale full of humour and satire, and easy book to recommend that is more likely to offend fans of Z list celebrity-dom than any ethnic or religious groups.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 20 July 2015
I really liked the idea behind this book as its really original (Hitler wakes up on some wasteland in modern day Germany). I also liked the very perceptive way that Hitler comments on modern society at the beginning of the book. the beginning of the book was amusing and entertaining, but as the story progressed I increasingly felt like the 'jokes' were forced and became increasingly shocking to the point where they were no longer funny but just offensive (I know this was probably the point) rather than satirical.
I think the book lacked substance and consequently was really drawn out and repetitive and the plot failed to maintain the originality that it started out with. there's not really much plot and I ended up getting frustrated that the author just wasn't getting on and telling the story, which became increasingly farcical as the book progressed.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 7 May 2014
A brilliant idea, but rather ponderously written.
I lost it half way through as I started not really to care ....
This could be because of the translation.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 1 June 2015
AN EXCELLENT READ. Suspend your moral disgust at the 'anti hero' of this book and settle in for a ripping yarn of political incorrectness and a comment on our shallow society of today. Some of the one liners really hurt, caused my German partner to squirm visibly, and I could not write them here without causing offence to someone somewhere. But they are just great. The irony of the Fuhrer being beaten up for being a Jewish imposter is just great. But don't let me spoil it for you........
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 16 May 2014
Leap of imagination. Hitler wakes up in modern day Berlin. That’s the premise of this book.
An excellent, and at times very funny, satire on the press, media and celebrity intelligently put together. By the end you begin to see how celebrity and the media can be manipulated and the rather sinister undertones of what can happen…a warning if you like.
It helps if you have some very basic knowledge of Germany but there is a good appendix telling you who all the names who are mentioned are. Therefore read this first as a refresher/catch up.
Thoroughly recommended if you like satire, or even if you didn’t know you did, and leave alone if you are bereft of imagination. I can’t give four and a half stars so five it will be.