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The Good German by Joseph Kanon
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The Good German (original 2001; edition 2004)

by Joseph Kanon

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1,080307,731 (3.59)54
Member:gaskella
Title:The Good German
Authors:Joseph Kanon
Info:Time Warner Paperbacks (2004), Paperback
Collections:Your library, To read
Rating:
Tags:Fiction, TBR

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The Good German by Joseph Kanon (2001)

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English (29)  German (1)  All languages (30)
Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
My reading habits do not usually extend to novels, but this book, "the Good German" by Joseph Kanon, came to me as a gift in recognisiton of the fact that I lived in Berlin for 30 months from July 1961 through December 1963, and was witness to the Berlin Wall being built, President Kennedy's "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech, the Cuban Missle Crisis and so on. I have also been back to Berlin on other occasions since then, the most recent about seven years ago.

If one can ignore what I refer to as the OSS (obligatory sex scenes) that have become to modern literature what the ballet was to French opera in the 1800s, the book is interesting both as an unusual twist on the murder mystery genre, but also as an insight into what the Germans call die unverwandtliche Vergangenheit - the past that will never cease to be: i.e, the atrocities carried out under the National Socialist regime of Adolf Hitler.

But my own personal familiarity with Berlin added to the interest in, and the enjoyment I had from, the novel. I walked many of the streets indicated in the novel, visited East Berlin several times before and after the Wall went up, and found the author's placement of the action of the novel to be unerring in capturing the city as it was shortly after World War II. The title is an invitation to the reader to determine of his or her own accord what "The Good German" really was following the war. ( )
  BlaueBlume | May 25, 2016 |
On reading The Good German a couple of years ago, I loved it (see my earlier review at LibraryThing). Thus, I was eager to experience this book in an audio format. In my opinion, this book works well as an audio book. The narrator is excellent, and does each of the voices of the large cast of characters in distinctive styles, with accents appropriate to their nationalities (German, British, American). I found the narrated story to be every bit as engrossing as in print. The plot is intricate, with unexpected twists and perplexing mysteries, and at its heart, difficult questions about the sacrifice of moral principles for the sake of selfish and national interests. The abridgement is done skillfully, but someone less familiar with the story might find a few aspects hard to follow. Nevertheless, I came away from this audiobook impressed once again with Joseph Kanon's work, and eager to try more of his novels. ( )
  danielx | Jan 7, 2016 |
Recommended by [a: Lavie Tidhar|572738|Lavie Tidhar|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1369652429p2/572738.jpg]
  supercoldd | Aug 27, 2015 |
An American reporter who lived in Berlin before WW2, returns in its immediate aftermath, to cover the Postdam conference and to find the woman he left behind.
The portrait of a bomb-ravaged Berlin, the people and the landscape, in the weeks after the Nazi surrender, is quite remarkable.
I watched the movie after reading the book. Skip it. They've changed the story in horrible fashion. It's awful. ( )
  BillPilgrim | Jul 14, 2015 |
I don't generally read spy novels or suspense thrillers these days, but I do have an enduring admiration for the work of John LeCarre, having read several of his books in years past. And Joseph Kanon's work has been justifiably compared to LeCarre's, and also to Graham Greene's, although the latter comparison is, I think, a bit of a stretch. But there is absolutely no doubt that Kanon knows how to grab a reader and spin a yarn and keep you turning pages late into the night. And all these things are certainly true of THE GOOD GERMAN, which I just finished whipping my way through. The characters in Kanon's books are, it seems to me, less important than the plot, in this case a murder mystery, and this was also true of LOS ALAMOS, the only other Kanon book I've read, that one set against the secrets and intrigues of the Manhattan Project. This time Kanon uses the Potsdam Conference as a backdrop, with seasoned journalist and war correspondent Jake Geismar, who has returned to a shattered Berlin after Germany has surrendered to find Lena Brandt, his married lover from before the war. He suddenly finds himself embroiled in a web of intrigue as he attempts to unravel the murder of an American officer. There is much here about the already ongoing competition and mistrust between the Americans and the Russians as both sides scramble to harvest the scientific knowledge of German technology and rocket science. But what comes through strongest of all is the immense suffering endured during the war, by both its innocent victims - the Jews - and also by the German people themselves, and the question that continually emerges is who will bear the responsibility for all the death and misery. Is there, in the awful aftermath of accusations and trials, even such a thing as a "good German."

There is a kind of breakneck pace to the story, as Jake tries to stay one pace ahead of the Russians and maybe some rotten Americans too. One of the more interesting characters is an alcoholic German policeman who Jake enlists to help him solve the ever more complex murder case. There are some rather steamy sex scenes when Jake and Lena reunite, as well as some shoot-em-up gun battles and even car chases and crashes - everything that would contribute to a successful film adaptation. And of course there was a film, which I have not seen, but I'll bet it's a damn good one.

This is a good book. Not great literature, but good solid writing and fine nail-biting, page-turning entertainment. Recommended. ( )
  TimBazzett | Nov 4, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0312426089, Paperback)

This compelling thriller is both a touching love story and a masterful portrayal of the struggle for geopolitical control of postwar Germany. Network correspondent Jake Geismar, who covered Berlin before the war, has returned to the devastated city, ostensibly to cover the Potsdam Conference but actually to find the woman he loves. Miraculously, Lena Brandt, Jake's wartime mistress, has survived. However, her mathematician husband is missing, and both the American and Russian intelligence services are hunting him. When the bullet-ridden body of an American soldier washes up on the shores of Potsdam in front of Jake's eyes just as Truman, Churchill, and Stalin convene the first postwar conference, Jake is plunged into a maelstrom of intrigue, corruption, and betrayal.

A brilliantly evoked portrait of a unique moment in history (the end of one war and the beginning of another), The Good German amply fulfills the promise shown by Joseph Kanon in his two earlier novels, Los Alamos and The Prodigal Spy. --Jane Adams

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:56 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

This compelling thriller is both a touching love story and a masterful portrayal of the struggle for geopolitical control of postwar Germany. Network correspondent Jake Geismar, who covered Berlin before the war, has returned to the devastated city, ostensibly to cover the Potsdam Conference but actually to find the woman he loves. When the bullet-ridden body of an American soldier washes up on the shores of Potsdam, Jake is plunged into a maelstrom of intrigue, corruption, and betrayal.… (more)

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