Every Man Dies Alone: A Novel Paperback – Mar 30 2010
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A New York Times Book Review Notable Book of the Year
“The greatest book ever written about the German resistance to the Nazis.” —Primo Levi
“One of the most extraordinary and compelling novels ever written about World War II. Ever.... Please, do not miss this.” —Alan Furst
"It has something of the horror of Conrad, the madness of Dostoyevsky and the chilling menace of Capote’s In Cold Blood.... In the quiet Quangels, Fallada has created an immortal symbol of those who fight back against 'the vile beyond all vileness' and so redeem us all." —Roger Cohen, The New York Times
“An unrivalled and vivid portrait of life in wartime Berlin.” —Philip Kerr, author of the "Berlin Noir" novels
“Has the suspense of a John le Carré novel … visceral, chilling.” —The New Yorker
“One of the most extraordinarily ambitious literary resurrections in recent memory.” —The Los Angeles Times
“A one-of-a-kind novel … Fallada can be seen as a hero, a writer-hero who survived just long enough to strike back at his oppressors.” —The Globe and Mail
“Stunningly vivid characters … gets you inside Nazi Germany like no other novel.” —The San Francisco Chronicle
“Essential, thrilling.” —The St. Petersburg Times
“This is a novel that is so powerful, so intense, that it almost hums with electricity." —Minneapolis Star-Tribune
About the Author
Before WWII , German writer Hans Fallada’s novels were international bestsellers, on a par with those of his countrymen Thomas Mann and Herman Hesse. In America, Hollywood even turned his first big novel, Little Man, What Now? into a major motion picture.
Learning the movie was made by a Jewish producer, however, Hitler decreed Fallada’s work could no longer be sold outside Germany, and the rising Nazis began to pay him closer attention. When he refused to join the Nazi party he was arrested by the Gestapo—who eventually released him, but thereafter regularly summoned him for “discussions” of his work.
However, unlike Mann, Hesse, and others, Fallada refused to flee to safety, even when his British publisher, George Putnam, sent a private boat to rescue him. The pressure took its toll on Fallada, and he resorted increasingly to drugs and alcohol for relief. After Goebbels ordered him to write an anti-Semitic novel, he snapped and found himself imprisoned in an asylum for the “criminally insane”—considered a death sentence under Nazi rule. To forestall the inevitable, he pretended to write the assignment for Goebbels, while actually composing three encrypted books—including his tour de force novel The Drinker—in such dense code that they were not deciphered until long after his death.
Fallada outlasted the Reich and was freed at war’s end. But he was a shattered man. To help him recover by putting him to work, Fallada’s publisher gave him the Gestapo file of a simple, working-class couple who had resisted the Nazis. Inspired, Fallada completed Every Man Dies Alone in just twenty-four days.
He died in February 1947, just weeks before the book’s publication.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
This is a thriller but a lot more than a thriller; it is a description of a society dominated by violence where it required a lot of courage to remain human. I cannot understand why it took so long for this book to be translated in English. With Vassili Grossman's "Life and Fate" this is one of the very few great novels inspired by World War II. To quote Primo Levi: "The greatest book ever written about German resistance to the Nazis".
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.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
This is an amazing book and a disturbing but interesting story. Well written and descriptions are vivid and the characters very human. I would highly recommend the book.Published 6 months ago by Saskanna
Intense read...a perspective that I had not experienced before. Gripping
and disturbing story that I couldn't put down.
I was lucky and got this as a galley before publication because a friend works for Melville House's distributer in Canada and thought. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Olivia Jennings
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... Read morePublished on Dec 5 2013 by Michal
It was the author's history and circumstance that prompted me to read this novel. As well, the idea that a dissident German who suffered under Nazi rule sought to reveal life... Read morePublished on June 17 2012 by Jeffrey Swystun
Not only is this novel based on the actions of a Berlin couple who naively dropped off self-authored anti-Nazi postcards in public building all over Berlin, but it is grounded in... Read morePublished on July 15 2011 by Sverre Svendsen
Every Man Dies Alone comes in a new, and very good, translation by Michael Hoffman (disastrously retitled Alone In Berlin in Britain). Read morePublished on June 12 2010 by Philippe Ranger
Hans Fallada has twisted knots and threads of paranoia together to portray the dense complexities of wartime Berlin. Read morePublished on Nov. 13 2009 by J. Peters
This book gives a strong account of how life in Nazi Germany was, and how difficult it was to mount any counter offensive against the State and its objectives. Read morePublished on Sept. 20 2009 by Mark 64