Why is it that since the beginning of time there has always been a few obsessed with getting the power to control the many? Such is the central question of The East, a deeply probing work of historical fiction that tells the story of Germany's profound loss of innocence during World War II. Based on the personal experience of author Fritz H. Schroeder, this rare and gripping glimpse of occupied Germany casts somber light on the human condition in times of utter desperation. Anyone who is interested in the history that informs the contemporary western world has much to glean from this evocative, candid look at a country in its decline.
The narrator is a young boy growing up at the onset of the war, as life begins to take darker tones under Hitler's consuming passion for worldwide power. From the merry gossip of the women's daily kaffeklatsch to the awe-inspiring magic created by his best school friend Romm, the young protagonist paints an idyllic portrait of childhood, community, family tradition, and place that is marked by Christmas festivities, tending the garden, local romance, and more. At the same time, The East interweaves the historical timeline of World War II, advancing the growing dominance of nationalism at the same time as its characters become forever changed by their wartime circumstances. In their once peaceful town, the inhabitants soon reel from the aftermath of Germany's loss of the war, with the initial month-long occupation by the Americans, followed by the squalid conditions of their five years under Communist occupation. A love story embedded in tragedy, The East holds a mirror up to one of recent history's most complex conflicts to share the perspective of a few ordinary souls who must grapple with extraordinary, life-changing events. Beautifully crafted and soul stirring, The East is a must-listen for anyone who seeks to mine one country's troubled mind and heart.
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