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4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Traitor's Gate (Traitors)
Format: Kindle Edition|Change

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 22 May 2017
A decent prewar thriller based in 1938 Germany. Fiction but based on a what might have been scenario in an attempted coup to get rid of Hitler. Will most definitely appeal to those with a deep interest in that period of history. Not bad at all.

Ray Smillie
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on 11 January 2014
Despite the complicated politics and the long German names and words, I did want to know the outcome of Conrad's story. I commend the author for his research and the fact that he took a different route with the plot to kill Hitler. I would recommend it to anyone studying European politics.
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on 12 September 2013
This book needs too continue with another one.
It's a great read, keeps you guessing until the end of the book.
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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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on 7 November 2014
There will be those of you out there who watched Valkyrie and loved it.

Traitor’s Gate does the same thing but better.

There will be those who hated Valkyrie.

Traitor’s Gate is more accurate and more tense. You will prefer it.

There will be those who’ve never seen Valkyrie.

Don’t bother. Read Traitor’s Gate!

I’m not an avid reader of the WW2 era, nor a student of the period, though I’ve delved here and there. I’ve watched a number of movies based on the period, including some from the German point of view, but it’s still far from my comfort zone.

To be honest, if a friend of mine had not raved at some point about how good the book was, I would never had picked it up on a whim, needing a change from Roman stuff, and read it.

I’m glad I did. Though early on, I realised that this is not strictly speaking a war book. This is a book about people and espionage and the hell that was the Third Reich before the war. This is a tale about a confused and dreadful time during which trust was hard to come by, and humanity even more so.

Though the direct protagonist and antagonist are fictional, the story introduces us early on as supporting characters to two key figures in the history of the 3rd Reich, both of whom were already familiar to me. Reinhard Heydrich is one. If you know anything about the period, that name should make you shudder. He was one of the architects of the Holocaust and one of the most brutal and unpleasant people during the war, running the Gestapo. The other is admiral Canaris, head of the German secret service, hero of mine and unsung hero of the war. To be honest, if I’d known it involved Canaris, I might have read it earlier.

Essentially, this story tells the dreadful tale of an Englishman in Berlin in 1938 battling with his family loyalties and his conscience in a world rapidly descending into hell. It is refreshing to see a tale that tells of high-powered and intelligent Germans, even in the party itself, understanding that Hitler was bad for Germany as well as for the rest of the world and beginning to put together a plan to remove the Fuhrer from power.

A lot of the story relies on secret negotiations between high level anti-Nazi Germans and peripheral members of the British government, arranging to carry out a coup against Hitler should the Fuhrer decide to invade Czechoslovakia despite British and French opposition.

Traitor’s Gate is a tremendously tense novel, building up with the crescendo of Nazi power in the days before the annexing of the Sudetenland. For those of you who’ve seen Valkyrie, it carries the tense moments of planning the coup in at least as stunning a manner – better, in fact. Despite the fact that even the least informed reader will go into the meat of the novel already aware of the fact that Hitler did not in fact die in 1938, and therefore we know that any plot failed, the novel is so well written that it is impossible not to be swept up in the tension and hope against hope that somehow the plot succeeds. Impressive, that.

In addition to the plot concerning a potential removal of Hitler from power, the story is cleverly interwoven with another thread involving a woman with Jewish ancestry (you can guess the direction that one’s taking.) This allows Ridpath not only to explore aspects of divisions in the higher ranks of the Third Reich and grand moral and political concerns, but also to investigate and reveal the deeper, more personal effects of the rise of Nazi power on the ordinary people of Germany. I gave to say that at least one anecdote told in relation to this thread will stay with me for a long time.

So… the characters are extremely well constructed and smoothly filtered in among real personages of the era, all of whom are excellently portrayed. The feel of the book is utterly atmospheric. It is like stepping into the page and finding yourself in just pre-war Berlin. The plot is tightly-constructed and builds continually to an impressively tense conclusion (especially given the foreknowledge that Hitler doesn’t die!) Clearly Ridpath’s research has been spot on and his storytelling is impeccable.

I simply cannot recommend this book highly enough. It is exactly the sort of book I would not have thought to read, and I would have missed out. Don’t make the same mistake. This will most definitely hit my top ten of the year.

Go get it and read it. You will NOT be disappointed.
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on 23 February 2014
Got this for my Kindle app ( I'm new to e-readers) and its a great read so far. I love the Bernie Gunther series by Philip Kerr and this is set in the same period in Germany in 1938 just before the war. A great read.
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on 30 October 2014
Good tale
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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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on 23 October 2017
I had never heard of Michael Ridpath until I heard him interviewed on the The Creative Penn podcast. I checked him out because I was interested in his spy thrillers and I'm very glad I did. Traitor's Gate is a meticulously researched novel about a German plot to overthrow Hitler in 1938. It is based on fact, with some fictional characters thrown in, and is an excellent history lesson in how the British government's policy of appeasement caused the plot to fail so that Hitler survived. It's a book that explores conscience and moral duty and the consequences of acting or not acting. The writing is strong and very polished and the plot moves at a crisp pace. I will definitely be reading the sequel.
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