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on 1 July 2013
This is historical fiction of a very high order, with fact and fiction so closely and skilfully blended and intertwined that it is never easy to be quite sure where one begins and the other ends: the author's note at the end of the book does give considerable help in this regard, but I would urge you not to look at it until you have read the book itself - just dive in and enjoy it first at the basic level of a gripping thriller.

That done, though, this is a book with higher levels too; it is almost documentary at times, and as you go on you may be surprised to learn just how much of it is either recorded historical fact, or at least closely based on fact with just a few tweaks. It is valuable too for highlighting the existence and extent of resistance to Hitler and National Socialism within Germany itself, and even in the years before the outbreak of war in September 1939 - although it did not of course end then. That is a story which deserves to be far more widely known and told, and the fact that the resistance was ultimately unsuccessful (partly due for whatever reason to lack of outside support, it has to be said) in no way detracts from its intrinsic worth, or from the vision, courage and self-sacrifice of those involved with it. This book goes some small way towards redressing the balance.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 5 August 2013
What a cracking story! I've enjoyed Mr Ridpath's Iceland series and was unsure whether a book set in Nazi Germany, on the brink of war, would be credible and engaging.

The characters rang true; their language, attitudes, backgrounds and their interplay all went to give them depth and make their conflicts and motivation plausible. The period detail was significant and informed. I felt as if I was in Berlin, with the central characters, sharing their fears and hopes. The difficulties of being Jewish were explored with sensitivity and compassion. The plot was sufficiently complicated to be intriguing. Set in the context of Hitler's proposed invasion of Czechoslovakia, and a secret plan to depose the nasty Nazi, it presents a clever meld of fact and fiction. I found the period detail rich and could visualise buildings and their setting, without feeling overwhelmed by extraneous information. A clever and interesting take on what might have been and why. Informed and entertaining, I really enjoyed it.
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on 19 December 2013
I should have enjoyed this book more than I did. I'm very interested in this period of German history and I enjoy thrillers. The benchmark for this type of novel was and remains 'The Day of the Jackal.' This book, unfortunately, comes nowhere close.

On the plus side, the sense of time and place - Germany and, in particular, Berlin, in 1938 - is impressive. The author has clearly done his research well, and that includes the real people involved in tentative anti-Hitler activities. Regrettably, though, the fictional characters come over as tediously two-dimensional. The reader feels little involvement in the lives and fate of the cardboard cut-out protagonists. There is little in the way of character development and not much credibility in their barely displayed thoughts and emotions.

This is a pity as there is a strong story to be told here. It just isn't in this novel.
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VINE VOICEon 11 December 2014
Dennis Wheatley wrote a book called "Traitor's Gate" - one of his Gregory Sallust novels set in WW2, and although this is completely different, Ridpath does show some similarities in his handling of Nazi-related material to produce an almost swashbuckling thriller that combines both a period feel and throwback to simpler, more direct storytelling times.

The bulk of the action centres around a possible plot to get rid of Hitler as Europe approached the 1938 crisis around the possible German invasion of Czechoslovakia, and the political and diplomatic posturing around the rights of the Sudeten Germans. Ridpath has clearly done his homework on the period, and combines interesting detail and real characters with some typically fast and furious action sequences. It's certainly in the mould of Jack Higgins in terms of style and ease of reading.

The second half of the book feels a tiny bit laboured, with Ridpath having the explain the diplomacy behind the scenes in some depth in order to give context to the situations his fictional characters then operate in, but that said, it's still pacy enough.

Unlikely to trouble the likes of Philip Kerr and David Downing in terms of becoming an authorative fictional voice with books set in this period, it is nevertheless entertaining enough, even though it doesn't offer much that is new.
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on 2 May 2014
A pre war Berlin tale of intrigue. In my opinion there are better tales, better characters in other books that use this period of history as a back drop. Check out Bernie Guenther or pick up the Station series before settling for this one.
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on 24 March 2014
I think once you have enjoyed the writings of Phillip Kerr and Alan Furst any other World War Two book centering on German politics tends to pale by comparison. Ridpath is a good writer but this book tends to drag a bit as you know pretty well what the outcome will be. I wouldnt waste my time with this one although I have to say it's OK but nothing more.
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on 18 July 2013
Finally, Traitors Gate proved a huge disappointment to me - it is not so much that it is badly written, although it is ineptly and casually edited. It is also hugely overstuffed with semi-relevant facts, many painstakingly and unnecessarily woven into the story to offer a reality. For instance, I suspect there may well have been a fountain in the reception of the British Embassy in Berlin in 1938 and the condition of the embassy was somewhat dilapidated - but it is unimportant and I didn't care (although I was, and remain, impressed by the length and breadth of the author's research.

Having tried my hand, and failed, at a novel set in Berlin in 1934, I am aware just how difficult, how complex, the task is to weld reality and fiction, plot and actuality into a worthwhile manuscript about Germany in the Period of Hitler's Chancellorship. The reality often seems a bizarre fiction all of its own.

The fact is that Philip Kerr sets an almost impossibly high bar in recreating Nazi Germany in sharply rendered fiction. And I feel I must compare. So, sub Kerr must be my description of the work. For whilst Kerr portrays the Third Reich, its people, Berlin, situations and other locations with a feeling of reality in Traitor's Gate to much seems to betray shoehorning in of the author's extensive research.

The mix of fictional and real characters, their view and observations finally fail to convince. Finally, and sadly, the plot becomes hugely unbelievable and the players flawed ciphers about whose life, loves and future I cared little
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on 8 September 2013
When I started this book I thought it was going to be a bit heavy going but once I was into it I couldn't put it down. I studied WW2 history man years ago at school but didn't learn much about the events leading up to the war. This book kept me on the edge of my seat with the dramas unfolding around the central characters and also opened my eyes to the attitudes and failings of the British government at the time. I think too many generations have been brought up with an "us and them" attitude, whether it's us versus the Germans, us versus the Russians and of course us versus the whoever-the-hell-our-government-is-at-war-with at any given time. Therefore books such as this serve to show the reader that many decent people lived and died trying to do the right thing in these countries, which we may perceive as the "bad guys".
At the end of the book I'll admit that I was so caught up in the excitement that I found myself hoping for a result that I knew historically didn't happen :)
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on 29 June 2013
Amid colourful and well-drawn characters, Michael Ridpath dissects divisions within the British and German governments in 1938 as war looms over Europe. As Traitor's Gate unfolds we see the blur and conflict of loyalty to country, friends, family, institution and personal values. None is clear. The conversation between Conrad de Lancey and the British ambassador to Berlin, Sir Nevile Henderson is enough to raise the hairs on the back of your neck in fury. This masterful novel is drawn from fact -- not least that in September 1938 Hitler was hours away from being ousted in a coup. But it never happened because Neville Chamberlain sued for peace.
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on 5 February 2014
I do read a lot, so maybe I'm a bit fussy and this may deserve more than 3 stars, but I got a bit bogged down with what can only be described as quite an original book for the genre, but was one of those books where, without giving spoilers, you seem to know when the central characters are going to face obstacles, a bit predicatable. Good use of historical figures and settings, but was not a real page turner for me, kept looking at my status bar to see how much left, not a great sign!
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