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Berlin, 1948. Almost four years after the war's end, the city is still in ruins, a physical wasteland and a political symbol about to rupture. In the West a defiant, blockaded city is barely surviving on airlifted supplies; in the East the heady early days of political reconstruction are being undermined by the murky compromises of the Cold War. Espionage, like the black market, is a fact of life. Even culture has become a battleground, with German intellectuals being lured back from exile to add credibility to the competing sectors.
Alex Meier, a young Jewish writer, fled the Nazis for America before the war. But the politics of his youth have now put him in the crosshairs of the McCarthy witch hunts. Faced with deportation and the loss of his family, he makes a desperate bargain with the fledgling CIA: He will earn his way back to America by acting as their agent in his native Berlin. But almost from the start things go fatally wrong. A kidnapping misfires, an East German agent is killed, and Alex finds himself a wanted man. Worse, he discovers his real assignment: to spy on the woman he left behind, the only woman he has ever loved. Changing sides in Berlin is as easy as crossing a sector border. But where do we draw the lines of our moral boundaries? Betrayal? Survival? Murder?
Filled with intrigue and the moral ambiguity of conflicted loyalties, Joseph Kanon's new novel is a compelling thriller and a love story that brings a shadowy period of history vividly to life.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Stevon on 07-19-15
good spy novel
Set in Berlin in 1948 and it seems like the war is still ongoing. This was the time of the McCarthy communist purge in the US and many Americans that were communist or at least sympathetic were returning or going to East Berlin and the Soviet sector. I believe a lot of them found out that it was one thing to be an intellectual communist living in the US and another to live under the yoke of Soviet communism. But there were all kinds of people returning to Germany trying to find relatives, friends and an old way of life. The wall wasn't yet built and many Germans were hoping the Russians would go home. There were lots of cross currents. The protagonist was half Jewish, whose parents died in a concentration camp, but he was able to get out of Germany in 1933. He felt like he owed a debt to the person who helped him get out and he wanted to see if he could help that family. The author wrote a pretty good thriller. I saw author Greg Iles at a book signing and he said this author, Joseph Kanon, is one of his favorites and that's why I bought this book. Glad I did.
11 of 11 people found this review helpful
By Sara on 01-04-16
Espionage In Berlin 1948
My favorite aspect of this novel was the atmosphere captured by the author. Kanon was able to paint each scene with just the right amount of detail so that it all felt real and alive. In addition, the complex dialogue and the glimpses of memories from the main character Alex added depth and texture to this spy thriller.
Fast paced, dark, remote, convoluted and risky. The book teemed with so many different groups at odds, so much hidden threat and who to trust and who not to trust. At times it was hard to keep all the threads straight. Still, I was swept along by it all and thought it was a good story. Worth a listen if you are interested in early Cold War Berlin.
35 of 39 people found this review helpful