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4.7 out of 5 stars
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4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 1 April 2017
I've read all of Ben Elton's books and for me this one seemed atypical in that it didn't have some obvious hook (time travel, the environment, celebrity culture) to pique my interest. However the other excellent reviews and the fact that I needed a holiday book persuaded me to buy it.
It is the story of two boys growing up in Nazi Germany and beyond. Needless to say this isn't a bundle of laughs! In fact at times I found the book utterly sad and depressing, nearly to the point of wanting to stop reading. However I persevered and overall it is a very rewarding and engaging story. All the characters are likable and you really do care what happens to them in the clever storyline.
My personal knowledge of that time is mainly limited to Hollywood movies and TV documentaries. I will state categorically that this book drove home the horror of that period more than any of my previous exposure... imagine Schindler's List times 10! My father was a truck driver in WW2 and was at the liberation of some of the camps. However he would never talk about it. I think perhaps now I finally understand why.
I also loved that the book was full of historical detail that I felt was educational and rewarding and in no way detracts from the story. A fine book and I am glad that I have read it. However I do hope that his next book is something a little more light-hearted!
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on 3 April 2017
A great deal of research - and as it turns out family history - has gone into this book. I rarely cry when reading a story, but this book moved me to tears. I could hardly bear to put it down and am lost now I`'ve finished it. What Ben Elton book shall I choose next???
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on 22 January 2013
Based on his own family history Ben Elton has created a novel that engages, entertains, disturbs and informs all at once. The book spans 25 years as it flicks between cold war Britain of the mid 50s and Berlin from the Weimar republic to the fall of the Nazis. He tells the story of two boys growing up together, one an adopted non-Jew the other the natural son of their Jewish parents. As far as they are concerned they are brothers. When the Nazis achieve power this becomes increasingly untenable forcing a series of decisions upon them that will reshape their lives. This is also about the decadence of Berlin in the 1920s, young love, human dignity and the will to survive against all the odds. In telling this story Ben Elton uses humour and sparkling dialogue to create a vivid sense of reality and the shear helplessness of people in the face of a monstrous regime. Each time life is made more impossible for Jews (and others) Elton expresses their bewilderment with the mantra 'well what more can they do to us?'

There is a good deal of personal family history in this book. More than once Elton expresses his feelings for Britain and the British through his characters as they avow their love for a country that has taken them in and given them new lives. He also has a powerful message, also delivered through his characters, hate thrives because of what people fail to do in the face of it rather than the actions of those who harbour it. It may make you less tolerant of people who think racism of any sort can be acceptable.
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on 2 January 2013
I love this book. As an avid fan of Ben Elton previous novels, I really looked forward to this book. In true Elton style this is outstanding. Without giving too much away, the characters are lovable and the storyline, while being set in Germany surrounded by the atrocities of war is a beautifully written love between twins and one girl.

I was sad to reach the end of the book, but it had to and did so well. It was also sad to read Ben Elton's comments at the end that said many of the characters in the book were based on members of his own family.

5 stars well deserved, perfectly written. Humour amid atrocity. Blackadder Goes Forth proved that Elton can write comedy elements inside a serious subject while maintaining the dignity and respect it deserves, this book is further proof to that.
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on 14 April 2014
Felt this was a story with impressive ambition, let down by poor characterisation and prose. I felt little empathy with the main characters and some of the emotions and politics seemed heavy-handed and stereotyped.Like a number of other reviewers, I was a little more sympathetic to the authors motives once I read the epilogue, which raised my review by a star.
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on 3 March 2017
I really enjoyed this novel this subject has been covered in countless books but this one had something about it that I enjoyed.
Its worth a read
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on 10 June 2017
Read it for the 2nd time after a 5 year gap and enjoyed it just as much. Well researched and gripping, all of the characters have depth and you end up caring about them. Very sad in some places but it also brings home the sheer horror of what happened in a way 100 documentaries never could. But it is also a very uplifting story of unconditional love and loyalty. I am sad to have finished it and would thoroughly recommend it.
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on 27 April 2017
A good, sometimes tragic story, I'm not sure I wholly appreciateBen Eltons writing but I'm pleased to have read/ listened to this book
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on 8 May 2017
This is truly a fantastic book. It combines what you expect to be a sad tale with humour in only a way Ben elton can do. Having read many of his books in the past- you always know what you are getting with his books- and that's a well written, researched novel with lots of twists and turns so the plot is never as expected.
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on 25 May 2017
another great book,cant wait for the next one.Let me know;
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