Red Love: The Story of an East German Family (Demy Hardback) Hardcover – 12 Sep 2013
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'A wry and unheroic witness to the distorting impact ... that ideology has upon the daily life of the individual ...He describes these 'ordinary lies' ... with great clarity, humour and truthfulness...his personal memoir serves as an unofficial history of a country that no longer exists' --Julian Barnes
'In this winner of the European Book Prize, Leo not only produces a moving family memoir, but also a probing exploration of the human need to believe and belong'---Kirkus
Tender, acute and utterly absorbing. In fine portraits of his family members Leo takes us through three generations of his family, showing how they adopt, reject and survive the fierce, uplifting and ultimately catastrophic ideologies of 20th century Europe. We are taken on an intimate journey from the exhilaration and extreme courage of the French Resistance to the uncomfortable moral accommodations of passive resistance in the GDR. With wonderful insight Leo shows how the human need to believe and to belong to a cause greater than ourselves can inspire a person to acts of heroism, but can then ossify into loyalty to a cause that long ago betrayed its people. --Anna Funder, author of Stasiland
"Beautiful and supremely touching" Keith Lowe, Sunday Telegraph
"Compelling ... [Leo] is terrific at elucidating the slow, incremental steps by which people come to lie to themselves... Guile, guilt and disappointment drip from these pages and Red Love is all the more affecting for it" New Statesman
"Leo uses the intimate scope of his family to explore the turbulent political history of East Germany from a perspective that has not been seen before. The result is an absorbing and personal account that gives outsiders an insight into life in the GDR" Shortlist
"Affectionate, insightful... Red Love is a fascinating tale... beautifully written and translated" Bookoxygen
About the Author
Maxim Leo was born in 1970 in East Berlin. He studied Political Science at the Free University in Berlin and at the Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris. Since 1997 he is Editor of the Berliner Zeitung. In 2002 he was nominated for the Egon-Erwin-Kisch Prize, and in the same year won the German-French Journalism Prize. He won the Theodor Wolff Prize in 2006. He lives in Berlin.
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Top Customer Reviews
Whether you are interested in the decidedly unsexy history of the ex-GDR or not is to a large extent immaterial as regards reading this book. Leo's literary style and narration is second to none in weaving through his tumultuous family history from mainly the 1930s, through WW2, the post war reconstruction and up to the fall of the Berlin wall. It is about personal romantic dreams and betrayal between people and between people and society. It's about what happens when a whole population becomes subjected to a few visionaries' narrow and uncompromising dream from which nobody is expected to ever wake.
For someone whose experience of the liberal arts was a landslide of leftist theory and dewy eyes when thinking about the great Communist ideals and its demise, this read was a breath of fresh air. However, this in no way some crude gloating right-wing, socialist-bashing exercise. When finished it I felt refreshed and upbeat despite the smothered hopes and wishes of two generations of his family and broader GDR society. Leo's story offers inner reflection, doubt and confession. Leo's family saga could so easily have been that of most people reading it.
It should be required reading in school.
These people certainly lived through interesting times. The book is certainly readable. Some of the "memories" I suspect are, if not invented, then embellished. However, there are bigger issues. Firstly, where are the women? Wolf was brought up entirely by his mother, Sigrid, who gets a page or two only. She fares better than Gerhard's wife, Norah - who barely gets a mention. Anne is discussed almost entirely through her relationship with her father and his alter ego, the East German state. Secondly, as Maxim does admit, his parents were more privileged than most East Germans, his family not typical. When Anne resigns from her magazine she is funded [by the state!]to do a doctorate on Spanish trade unionism. It is painfully ironic that when Maxim is rejected for the Abitur, his mother is utterly distressed because her son is fated to be a worker. In Maxim's East Germany we notice the working class but fleetingly - sleep walking their way to the factories with pale faces and distant eyes. Thank God for the intelligentsia!!
The author retails familiar anecdotes [true/false/exaggerated?] set against a standard western view of East Germany - a grey landscape, populated by working class ghosts and the shadows of the informers.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
As a communist i found this book quite disturbing and lots of anti communist garbage. The Author who had a 1st class education under socialism becomes a rebellious teenager who... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Ryan Herrmann
Interesting snapshot of the effects of the division of Germany and the consequences for generations to come.Published 4 months ago by Pen Name
A unique book - the history of a single family through WWII and into the GDR / Cold War era.Published 7 months ago by j.c.thompson
I read this on holidays in August - found it difficult to put it down. As someone who is a history buff of the era and who has almost an elemental attachment to Berlin, the pen... Read morePublished 10 months ago by l'escargot
Told in clear, sparing language but huge underlying emotion, this is the story of Maxim, an East-German boy & his family. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Amazon Customer
An account of GDR in 1970s exactly as how I remember East German Living. The family was so similar to mine that it was uncanny, Especially the grandfather who later lost his power... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Fiona M
A really different angle to look at the former DDR. Illuminating.Published 11 months ago by Miss Claire Powell
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