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4.7 out of 5 stars
896
4.7 out of 5 stars
Two Brothers
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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 18 May 2013
This story drips historical accuracy clothed in an engaging tale about two brothers, one the real son of a Jewish Doctor and her Jazz playing husband, the other a boy born to a dead German gentile and adopted at birth. The two boys are raised as twins. It takes the reader through the tragedy of post WW1 Germany, the brief heyday of the Weimar Republic to the madness of the Nazi years. The general history is well known, but the detail is astonishing. Did the Nazi's really remove the telephones from Jewish homes? I had never considered it before, nor many of the other petty restrictions placed on the Jews living under an evil regime during the 1930's.

The story is told in flashback from the point of view of the surviving brother living in London in the 1950's, but its clearly signposted so there is little confusion about what is happening and when. It would take a heart of stone not to be moved, and one scene in particulalr (I won't spoil the story by revealing which scene) that moved a cynical old codger to tears.

Ben Elton is best known as a writer and performer of comedy, but in this book there are few laughs. Don't let this put you off. Its a wonderfull story extremely well told. We can only hope that history is never repeated and Ben never has cause to write a similar story set in the 21st century.
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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 5 September 2017
Ben Elton is both articulate nd sympathetic in his telling of the plight of a family of German Jews during the early days of the Nazi party and the atrocities that followed. The story moves on with pace and compeles the reader on to its conclusion. A great read.
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on 8 August 2017
WW2 history has always interested me, as have Ben's books over the years, so this book seemed like a no brainer.

It is incredibly interesting to read about what was broadly happening in Germany after WW1 and given that the family in the story and what happens to them is loosely based on Ben's own family history adds more weight and conviction to it

Horrific, sad, gripping, intriguing and astonishing to read, I will be recommending it to everyone I know
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on 17 October 2017
A well researched book outlining the series of historical events, through a story, that happened in Germany from after the first war till the start of the Cold War. The tale is a run of emotions, and, like most Elton novels, has a couple of twists. Truely a great writer. Sadly, his books are such compelling reading, you read them in a matter of hours or a day, and you're stuck what to read next.
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on 2 July 2017
A compelling, sad, frightening and captivating narration of a family and close friends caught up in the build up to the Second World War- beautifully written
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on 7 August 2017
This book takes you through the lives of a Jewish family in the early 1930's when Germany's leaders began their destruction of peoples lives.

I
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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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