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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.
29 of 29 people found this review helpful
Written in 1947, this novel is based on the true story of a working class couple who left anonymous post cards in and around Berlin during the Nazi regime. The subversive cards encouraged people to sabotage the Nazi war effort by slowing down work in any way possible. The real-life couple, as well as the novel's main characters, Otto and Anna Quangel, were eventually captured and executed. There are also several subplots involving neighbors and relatives of the Quangels, including an elderly Jewish woman whose husband was taken away by the Nazis, an SS officer, a young thug making his way up the ranks of the Hitler youth, a female postal worker and her long-philandering husband, and others. Like most stories about Nazi Germany, this is the story of common people struggling just to survive and, sometimes, taking extraordinary risks along the way.
I found [Every Man Dies Alone] difficult to read because of its relentless tension and the relentless cruelty and manipulations of the Nazis and their sympathizers. I'm sure that is exactly the effect that the author had hoped for, but: 1) I felt that I had suffered through similar books before, so there were few surprises; and 2) I just kept wishing that it would be over, since the unhappy ending was inevitable. These comments aren't meant to be disparaging; they just express the emotional impact that the book had on me personally. Would I recommend it? Yes, with the caution that it is far from a light summer read. If you 'appreciated' (I can't say 'enjoyed') books like Night or Schindler's List, you might want to put Every Man Dies Alone on your wish list--but don't expect heroism, suffering, and endurance to be rewarded here, nor the evil to be punished.
13 of 13 people found this review helpful