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Heroes Like Us Paperback – 21 Aug 1997

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: The Harvill Press (21 Aug. 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1860464033
  • ISBN-13: 978-1860464034
  • Product Dimensions: 21.2 x 13.4 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 415,520 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

John Brownjohn is an award-winning translator. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Format: Paperback
The book (and the film with the same title) are so funny you will laugh your head off. Starting with the Russian march into Prague (and the birth of the protagonist)it describes his life and the outstanding role he (and a certain part of his body) played in German reunification. It was a bestseller in Germany, and a must-read ;-))
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By A Customer on 14 Sept. 2003
Format: Paperback
This book on the German reunification is excellent, the ununsual story of Karl Uhltschzt from his bizarre birth to his coming of age. He has a thoroughly male obsession with a certain body part, which has a tendency to preoccupy his thoughts and becomes more significant(!) towards the end of the book. This book is a joy to read from start to finish, a bestseller in Germany and it's funny enough to make you laugh out loud, i would definitely recommend it. Many English readers will probably never have heard of this book but if you do stumble across it i can guarantee u will like it.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9007c0cc) out of 5 stars 10 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8f3f2dbc) out of 5 stars Must-Read for Cold-Warriors 16 Feb. 2012
By MGEMM - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Brussig's Heroes Like Us is hugely entertaining as a novel and it is also highly educational: it throws open a gigantic picture window on a culture that we "cold-warriors" largely had to imagine for ourselves. East Berlin, East Germany, the Stasi. So many secrets, so much mystery, so much inhumanity. But as we might have guessed, the Stasi was so big and pervasive that it was ripe for lampooning, especially now that the wall has fallen and the Stasi is no longer a threat. In terms of per-capita employment it was the largest secret police force the world has ever seen and it influenced everyone's life on both sides of the Wall. An East German Portnoy*, Klaus Uhltzscht is the son of a mid-level Stasi functionary and a public health engineer mother. Klaus tells his story to a reporter from the New York Times (rather than to a psychiatrist) and we spend the entire novel trying to figure out how Klaus can lay claim to having caused the fall of the Berlin Wall. The journey is fascinating and fun; it is also irreverent and obscene. For so many of us there was only the spy-novel image of a captive and oppressed people, living in a black and white city where it is always night and there is no traffic. It's an entirely new perspective on late-GDR East Berlin and its inhabitants, who in the end are just... heroes like us. The translator gets a lot of credit and his job was so obviously difficult that I will try to find the original in German** and compare notes. I haven't read much German since college, but I think this will be worth the effort.
* Portnoy's Complaint
** Helden wie wir
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8f3f2e10) out of 5 stars reading this book you cannot stop laughing 16 Sept. 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Originally I gave "Heroes like us" to my stepfather, because I thought it was about the term of history he has lived in, and so he would be interested in a witty story about East Germany. But when he read he was so enthusiastic about it that he could not give it away. I immediately took the book and did not wonder any more about his reaction. The slightly ironic style of Thomas Brussig took possession of me. The action mainly takes place in the area where I was born and so I could comprehend how "hero" Klaus experiences his surroundings. But I think for any other reader this book will also bring perfect entertainment and better understanding of "life in the DDR".
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8f3f7084) out of 5 stars Portnoy in Berlin 19 Oct. 2012
By Roger Brunyate - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
"The story of the Wall's end is the story of my penis" proclaims the hero of this ribald satire on the third page, giving readers a very clear idea of what they are in for. On the one hand, a brilliant and often hilarious alternative history of life in East Germany in the years preceding the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. On the other hand, a Bildungsroman starring a very unlikely hero, Klaus Uhltzscht (wonderful name!), a mama's boy with an obsessive interest in his sexual apparatus. How the surprise transformation of that apparatus from pathetically inadequate to gigantic led to the reunification of Germany is the story line of the novel, which is a kind of cross between Günther Grass' THE TIN DRUM and Philip Roth's PORTNOY'S COMPLAINT, but still very much its own thing.

Perhaps I should add Joseph Heller's CATCH-22 to that list. By far the funniest section of the book is the middle, when Klaus has joined the Stasi (the infamous secret police of the DDR) as an officer cadet. At least he thinks it is the Stasi. All he can get from his superiors are cryptic reminders that "You know what kind of outfit you are in." But is his group the official Stasi, or a counter-Stasi, or a Stasi plant to distract attention from the real Stasi? All he knows is that their function is "the negation of negation," whatever that means. One of his superiors, who had once taken a course in philosophy, has a habit of illustrating his points with totally irrelevant analogies. Another breaks all his sentences into numbered sub-headings: "We always have pretzels here. It is (a) everyone's responsibility to (b) ensure that we never run out of pretzels." Most of Klaus' work consists of mounting months-long surveillance on apparently random locations, on the principle that "the criminal always revisits the scene of the crime."

As a teenager, Klaus goes to great lengths to obtain a copy of the East German sex manual, MANN UND FRAU INTIM. He does not have much success with its, shall we say, interactive sections, but he rivals Roth's Portnoy in the matter of self-gratification, and is soon exploring some of the practices in the book's final chapter on perversions, and even going beyond it. Indeed, Klaus, who once saw himself as a future Nobel Prizewinner, now sees himself as a sexual pioneer adding to the glory of the Socialist Ideal. I have to say that some of this writing becomes rather tiresome, but take away its more lurid aspects and there is a great deal of truth there. Anyone who has grown up as a rather nerdish boy in a restrictive atmosphere, simultaneously curious and ashamed, feeling the odd-man-out in any group of his peers, will see something of himself in poor Klaus.

No, where I found I lost company with Klaus was in the political aspects of the book. It was a huge success on its publication in Germany in 1995, and you can see why. Brüssig's satire would surely have hit very specific targets with those who had lived through recent history, whereas for non-German readers it is funny enough but somewhat generic. In particular the end of the book, dealing with the Alexanderplatz demonstration and the breech of the Wall, depends a lot on references to the work of an East German writer called Christa Wolff, a name unknown to me. So just at the point where fact and fancy should have met, the book largely lost me. A pity -- but the rest of it was unique and great fun.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8f3f76b4) out of 5 stars An excellent story of East Germany, the falling of the Wall 28 July 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
For anyone interested in life on a day to day basis in the DDR, this is the book. An insight into the working of the infamous Stasi, in a very humorous tone.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8f80db28) out of 5 stars Oustandingly funny and brilliant! 11 Dec. 1998
By jcooney@mail.colgate.edu - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I laughed from page 2 to the last. Brussig is an imaginative and talented writer that truly knows the meaning of satire. If you like dark humor and cynicism, then this book is for you.
Be aware that if you can't handle "penis talk" then you definitely should not read this. The German version is equally as good, and likewise the translation is quite accurate.
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