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Every Man Dies Alone Hardcover – Mar 3 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 450 pages
  • Publisher: Melville House; 1 edition (March 3 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933633638
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933633633
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 15 x 4.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 907 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #158,732 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful By David on March 23 2009
Format: Hardcover
I took a chance on this book after seeing it mentioned in a recent Wall Street Journal Magazine I picked up by chance. The concept intrigued me and so I hunted it down. Initially I was a bit put off by the almost 600 pages in hardback form (I read when I travel and so I like my books to be portable!)

A few minutes reading the first couple of pages in the bookstore and I was hooked. Not only is the style so completely engaging, the pace - in which the various inter-weaving tales of ordinary Berliners is told over a backdrop of one of the most disturbing times in world history - made it hard to put the book down. As it happened, I read it from cover to cover in about 4 sessions over as many days while on vacation. It wasn't until I read the afterword and the other supplementary sections at the end of the main novel that I realized the story was based on the true lives of a "working-class couple living in Berlin" (Otto & Elise Hampel). They undertook a silent 3 year anti-Nazi propaganda campaign by writing simple statements urging civil disobedience and sabotage on postcards and leaving them in noticeable places around Berlin. Their efforts kept the Berlin police and Gestapo baffled and enraged the whole time.

"Every Man Dies Alone" turns out to be a masterpiece of a novel based on that true story, while also exploring the lives of many people - family, friends and strangers - that come into contact with the two protagonists over that 3 year period. It's a real roller-coaster read. I just couldn't help thinking that because this novel was written just over a year after the end of the war, the many examples of what life was like in wartime Berlin, and the way people behaved (treachery/loyalty, cowardice/bravery, cruelty/kindness, blackmail/generosity, suspicion/trust, etc.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Friederike Knabe TOP 50 REVIEWER on Feb. 19 2010
Format: Hardcover
It is difficult to imagine the impact of Hans Fallada's novel on his German contemporaries in 1947. In the years immediately following World War II, hardly any fiction authors who had remained in the country throughout the Nazi regime were even considering the raw topics of the very recent past because they were more concerned with the shaping of the "new" Germany. Yet Fallada, in his characteristic way of observing and writing about the "little people" *), for which he had been widely read before the war, was bursting with everyday stories of the struggles of working class people of the early forties. For him, writing was like an addiction that enabled him to pen the novel in a mere 24 days.

In the fall of 1945, the author came upon a thin Gestapo file on the case of an elderly working class couple and their private futile attempt at stirring resistance against the regime. To honour their memory and to ensure that their suffering was not in vain, Fallada placed Anna and Otto Quangel, as he called them, into the centre of his novel about the struggle for survival of the "little people" during the early war years. He surrounded his heroes with a small, yet diverse and representative group of Berliners, centred around an apartment block in Berlin's working class north. Creating believable characters and vivid scenarios, he conveyed a series of reality snapshots of the social and political conditions of the time. There was the misery of poverty and the constant fear of being denounced, conscripted to the army or sent to a concentration camp for not obeying the orders that controlled people's daily lives.
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Format: Hardcover
I was lucky and got this as a galley before publication because a friend works for Melville House's distributer in Canada and thought. I read the short Fallada bio the publisher uses that claims Fallada wrote this book in a number of days, not years or even months. And that he was inspired to do so by a Gestapo file outlining the resistance of a couple of ordinary Germans. The resistance of an ordinary couple in Fallada's novel is aroused because the two are middle-aged and heart-broken because their only child has been killed in this war. They had never participated in anything political. They lived, mom, dad and their boy, to support each other in their rather quiet ride through daily life, but now that he has been killed, they have nothing to live for except this act of resistance that is also about justice for their son. I couldn't put it down. It would be inevitable that the Nazis would find out about them. Wouldn't it? Oh my, must stop before I have to issue a spoiler alert. A great read.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am so grateful that this authors work has finally been translated into English. The story is of an ordinary German family, going about life in an extraordinary period of history. It tells of their moral, physical and intellectual turmoils in dealing with life in Nazi Germany. It is an honest look at what can happen and the choices and responses people make. It is a page turner that left me wondering and thinking about myself and how I would or if I would be able to have the strength of my moral convictions.
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