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Every Man Dies Alone Hardcover – Mar 3 2009

4.3 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Melville House; 1 edition (March 3 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933633638
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933633633
  • Product Dimensions: 16 x 4.5 x 23.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 907 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #358,083 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"The greatest book ever written about German resistance to the Nazis."
--Primo Levi

"Hans Fallada's Every Man Dies Alone is one of the most extraordinary and compelling novels ever written about World War II. Ever. Fallada lived through the Nazi hell, so every word rings true–this is who they really were: the Gestapo monsters, the petty informers, the few who dared to resist. Please, do not miss this."
--Alan Furst

"A signal literary event of 2009 has occurred. Rescued from the grave, from decades of forgetting, [Every Man Dies Alone] testifies to the lasting value of an intact, if battered, conscience. In a publishing hat trick, Melville House allows English-language readers to sample Fallada's vetiginous variety [and] the keen vision of a troubled man in troubled times, with more breadth, detail, and understanding than most other chroniclers of the era have delivered. To read Every Man Dies Alone, Fallada's testament to the darkest years of the 20th century, is to be accompanied by a wise, somber ghost who grips your arm and whispers in your ear: 'This is how it was. This is what happened.'"
-- New York Times Book Review

"Every Man Dies Alone...deserves a place among the 20th century's best novels of political witness."
--Sam Munson, The National

"Every Man Dies Alone [is] a suspense-driven"
--Alan Furst, Toronto Globe and Mail

"Every Man Dies Alone [is] one of the most immediate and authentic fictional accounts of life during the long nightmare of Nazi rule."
--The New York Observer

"Primo Levi…called this "the greatest book ever written about the German resistance to the Nazis." It is, in retrospect, an understatement. This is a novel that is so powerful, so intense, that it almost hums with electricity."
--Minneapolis Star-Tribune

" [Every Man Dies Alone] has the suspense of a John le Carré novel, and offers a visceral, chilling portrait of the distrust that permeated everyday German life during the war."
--The New Yorker

"[A]t once a riveting page turner and a memorable portrait of wartime Berlin...With its vivid cast of characters and pervasive sense of menace, Every Man Dies Alone is an exciting book."
—John Powers for Fresh Air / NPR Books We Like

Top "Summer Read" pick
—On Point Raido, WBUR

"...a belated revelation."
San Francisco Chronicle

"...necessary and gripping."
The Oregonian

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.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Hardcover
This is an extraordinary book. I always wondered what the daily life could have been in Nazi Germany during the war. This novel was written by a well known German writer who survived the Hitler regime and its collapse. It was written just after the end of the war and describes with chilling realism, but also with a deep sense of humanity, what life was like in Berlin during those years. The book tells the true story of an old German couple, the Quangels who, after the death of their son, try to resist the Nazis. They drop anti Nazi cards over Berlin until the Gestapo catches them and they meet their fate. But around this plot, all kinds of characters revolve: police and Gestapo officers, party thugs, small time crooks, and a few people who try to remain decent in a world of violence and fear.
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".
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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: Hardcover
Having been brought up in working class England during and after the war, it was refreshing to read a story portraying such courage and fortitude of ordinary German citizens during the gloom, despair and terror of World War Two. We were all brainwashed then to consider all Germans as the enemy. To capture a slice of German life under such a brutal regime without rhetoric and masculine bravado was entrancing and a relief that some at least were thinking of humanity after all.
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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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