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Munich Paperback – 14 Jun 2018
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"Grips from start to finish . . . Munich captures the mood of the times: the suspicion and the fear, the political intrigue, the swagger of the Nazi machine and the widespread elation at the mistaken belief that war has been averted. Superb." (Simon Humphreys Mail on Sunday)
"Harris’s cleverness, judgment and eye for detail are second to none . . . his research is so impeccable that he could have cut all the spy stuff and published Munich as a history book. Harris’s treatment of Britain’s most maligned prime minister is so powerful, so persuasive, that it ranks among the most moving fictional portraits of a politician that I have ever read" (Dominic Sandbrook Sunday Times)
"An intelligent thriller . . . with exacting attention to historical detail" (The Times, BOOKS OF THE YEAR)
"Atmospheric and fast-paced literary thriller . . . [it] grips from start to finish . . . Superb" (Mail on Sunday)
"Unputdownable to the point of being dangerous: the house could have been on fire while I was reading and I wouldn’t have noticed" (Jake Kerridge Sunday Express)
About the Author
Robert Harris is the author of twelve bestselling novels: the Cicero Trilogy - Imperium, Lustrum and Dictator - Fatherland, Enigma, Archangel, Pompeii, The Ghost, The Fear Index, An Officer and a Spy, which won four prizes including the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction, Conclave and most recently, Munich. Several of his books have been filmed, including The Ghost, which was directed by Roman Polanski. His work has been translated into thirty-seven languages and he is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He lives in West Berkshire with his wife, Gill Hornby.
From the Publisher
Munich, September 1938
Hitler is determined to start a war. Chamberlain is desperate to preserve peace. As Europe's darkest hour approaches, the fate of millions hangs in the balance.
Scroll through the images below to discover more about the sequence of events at the Munich Conference, which forms the historical backdrop of this spy novel.
22nd September 1938
24th September 1938
29th September 1938
30th September 1938
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The novel focusses on two mid-ranking diplomats, one on the German side and one British, and is set over just a few days. This gives insight into the happenings on both sides. Both characters are unobjectionable, but neither is really loveable. I didn't feel a strong connection to either and both seemed quite bland. The supporting characters, both real and imagined, aren't any better. The character I found most interesting was Chamberlain, who gets a sympathetic portrayal. History has often portrayed him as a moral coward, but in this day and age I'm pretty sure we'd be applauding his efforts to avoid a war.
One of the difficulties faced by Harris is that readers know the outcome in advance. You don't need to know much about history (and I know very little myself) to know World War II started in 1939. So there's never any doubt for the reader that war will be averted. This takes away a lot of the possible tension. I'd expected more peril for the characters, but there's not even that. For a spy novel, there's little spying, and for a thriller, there are few thrills. You never get the sense of the characters being in real, immediate danger. There's no heart stopping tension or compulsion to read all night.
Overall, it's a decent historical novel which I found interesting as it covers a piece of history that is often overlooked by the casual person (like me, who gave up history aged 13). Unlike most of Harris' novels, it doesn't function well as a thriller (political or otherwise) and lacks the tension that most of his novels have in spades. Read it if you're interested in the period and want to know more, but otherwise it's probably not worth it.
However as usual the novel appears to be thoroughly well researched ,as far as I'm capable of judging, and as usual well written so don't let my prejudices put anyone off reading a very good novel.