Every Man Dies Alone

  • by Hans Fallada, Michael Hofman (translator)
  • Narrated by George Guidall
  • 20 hrs and 15 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Hans Fallada wrote this stunning novel in only 24 days—just after being released from a Nazi insane asylum. Based on a true story, Every Man Dies Alone tells of a German couple who try to start an uprising by distributing anti-fascist postcards during World War II. But their dream ultimately proves perilous under the tyranny that dominates every corner of Hitler’s Germany.


Audible Editor Reviews

On its first publication into English in 2009, Hans Fallada’s 1947 book instantly took its place amongst 20th-century classics, aided (with the exception of a few jarring choices) by Michael Hoffman’s clean and lively translation. This recording, dripping with character, should help spread the word of this modest masterpiece even further.
Essentially, the book shows how corruption, intimidation, and fear radiate outwards from a morally bankrupt political center to the furthest reaches of society — a world of fear where neighbors and strangers alike are on the make, not to be trusted. The effects of countless assaults on personal decency and integrity are pitilessly displayed as, like an unblinking camera, Fallada follows each plot line to its conclusion. The remorseless force of destiny that propels each event is no less harrowing for being inevitable.
George Guidall possesses an idiosyncratic voice — if you already love this book, no doubt each character is a vivid presence in the back of your mind, and it will take a while to acclimate to Guidall’s aged and vinegary voice. But it is also a surprisingly malleable instrument — Fallada’s rich cast of characters is wholly present as Guidall shifts between long-suffering, resolute, broken, wheedling, pleading, and avuncular.
Guidall’s performance brings life to Fallada’s achievement in combining the cat-and-mouse criminal investigation of Crime and Punishment with Balzac’s exploration of society’s lower orders: In his portrayal of the cynical and relentless Gestapo inspector Escherich, the voice drips with insinuation and corruption, while the simple proletarian couple at the heart of the book speak with long-suffering endurance and increasingly angry resistance.
Every Man Dies Alone is also striking in the depth and complexity of its female characters, and here, too, Guidall delivers a set of subtly shaded performances. And in the last chapters, where suffering and oppression are raised to a state of grace, the spoken and written word become indivisible as the dramatic power of Fallada’s redemptive vision is movingly delivered by Guidall. —Dafydd Phillips


What the Critics Say

"The book has the suspense of a John le Carré novel, and offers a visceral, chilling portrait of the distrust that permeated everyday German life during the war." (The New Yorker)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

a difficult masterpiece

for anyone who wants to know what it was like to live in world war 2 germany, this is probably the best place to learn. for me the book was at times humorous, at times heart breaking, at times astonishing. the level of characterization rivals balzac at his best, the layers of political plotting are as good as dostoeyvsky. the writer apparently loved dickens and it shows. even in their darkest hours, fallada s good characters cannot be anything but good. which is good because evil characters abound in the book as they did in nazi germany. you can read a book like Hitlers Willing Executioners and be stunned into belief, but in a book like this you live the life of the revolutionary character in a way that gets into your soul. these two characters could be your parents, or your grandparents. they are difficult and loveable, and to the very end of the book nothing matters as much as their fate.

I do not agree that any of the characters or their dialogue feel dated. rather it is the reading given by this narrator that makes it sound that way. he gives one character a whiny voice that was probably accurate, but in an audio book, with no face to go along with it, it did seem exaggerated, even cartoonish. there were a few times when i thought the book would have been served better by a less exciteable acting. but that is only my opinion, someone else might love it. the narrator did a fantastic job otherwise, and obviouslsy gave it his whole heart. it was convincing and passionate.

a note about the translator. if you like this book, you should check out his other translations, particularly the books of joseph roth whom i had never heard of until moving to germany many years ago. he is now one of my favorite writers, and that debt is owed to this translator who is a poet, and who has a fantastic way with words.

this book should be read by anyone who thinks torture is a good idea, at any time, for any reason.

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- Heimo

Powerful and Deeply Moving

This audio book may be as close to a masterpiece as it gets. I am just coming back from the journey and still reeling from the experience. The depiction of a range of simple, accessible characters finding surprising dimensions of themselves at moments of crisis and struggle; a degeneration of a society on a macro and an interpersonal level; a tapestry of images of humanity at its best and at its worst - I became hopeless immersed in the world of this novel. George Guidall brings the art of narration to a new level, bringing dozens of characters to life with a kind of subtlety of vocal gesture that serves the material perfectly. A beautiful, painful, piercing look into some of the darkest and most inspiring places in the human soul. It's going to take me some time to recover.
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- J. David Blazevich

Book Details

  • Release Date: 03-30-2010
  • Publisher: Recorded Books