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Fatherland by Robert Harris

Fatherland (original 1992; edition 2010)

by Robert Harris, Hubert Galle (Traducteur)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,971621,927 (3.8)96
Authors:Robert Harris
Other authors:Hubert Galle (Traducteur)
Info:Pocket (2010), Mass Market Paperback, 424 pages
Collections:Your library, Lus par moi, Lu2012
Tags:CC, Fiction, Nazisme, Question juive, Roman, Suspense, Uchronie, Lu2012, Lu

Work details

Fatherland by Robert Harris (1992)

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» See also 96 mentions

English (52)  French (5)  Italian (2)  Finnish (1)  German (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (62)
Showing 1-5 of 52 (next | show all)
First Read in 1993. Engaging thriller set in 1964 Germany - post WWII in a world where the Nazis have won. ( )
  starkravingmad | Oct 19, 2014 |
This one is hyped up massively. But there really are no real surprises here in this by the book detective thriller. Does it get the rave reviews because of the weird fascination felt by people for the nazis? Perhaps. It won't blow you away, and if it does, you really need to read more. ( )
  polarbear123 | Oct 12, 2014 |
Harris writes one of the most convincing accounts of an Axis victory in World War Two, and its global aftermath; yet at the same time it is a first-rate detective story, as one man uncovers an old secret that could threaten the Reich that would last one thousand years. Harris weaves real history with his fiction to create a fully believable account which is tinged just rightly with Nazi propaganda.

An excellent historical thriller that stands as one of the best alternative history works yet. ( )
  xuebi | May 30, 2014 |
Fatherland was, it seems, first published 1992. The paperback I have, came out in 1993. How I have managed to avoid this one for so long? As The Who once said; 'I can't explain.'

It is a really compulsive thriller, a detective story - but one with a difference. A huge difference. It is 1964. just before Adolf Hitler's 75th birthday. The Queen lives in Canada, as does Winston Churchill. Though, not together, I don't think. A US President is on his way for a summit with the Fuhrer visit Berlin. Kennedy is his name. Not the one you're thinking. Or that one. I guarantee. So, we are in a bleak, alternative world where the Nazis weren't beaten by the Allies. Russia didn't push the German army back from Moscow and were themselves pushed back eastwards. The war in the east is still going on, still claiming lives and still unresolved. Most of the rest of Europe is now either under German rule or effectively a puppet state for the new Germany the Nazis have created in their image, to more or less do with what they will.

Thankfully, this is just fiction. The more you read, the more thankfully you'll be. I read parts of it and was sometimes glad I could look away and put it down. We owe it to the people who aren't with us, who can't put it down and look away, to continue reading. And remembering the reality.

A body is found floating in a lake near Berlin. Detective Xavier March takes the call and the case, though he knows, even at the outset, he really shouldn't have. He's right. Whilst being a reasonably successful detective and a seeming pillar of the Nazi community as such, March turns out to be actually not all that enamoured with life in the New Reich. But he is in no way prepared for how bad he finds it actually is, under the surface. The tension builds, turns are twisted, suspicion breeds and secrets slowly teased out and exposed. A conspiracy is uncovered and begins to claim its victims.

Fatherland is a thriller on the face of it. Though because of the quality of the writing and the execution and delivery of the ingenious plot, it is much more. And thought-provokingly chilling. Because it easily could have been. Harris calmly and assuredly builds his characters, his plot and themes begin to seem normal and so the book's tension mounts. Almost without you realising. It is really an inspiring master class of writing, that raises the thriller far above its usual semi-disposability. You're not going to forget this in a hurry. Nor should you.

In the end, stepping back, what I think Harris is saying is that we're (still) in essence dealing with common criminals covering their tracks. March says at one point: "'What do you do...if you devote your life to discovering criminals, and it gradually occurs to you that the real criminals are the people you work for?" They weren't supermen, they were little, frustrated men, given the opportunity to do what they wanted without fear of reprisal. Pride refused to countenance an alternative or an end to their twisted Utopia. When reality returned, they merely scurried to cover their tracks.

OK, this sort of 'what if Germany had won?', story-line had been done a few times before Harris - Len Deighton's SSGB springs instantly to my mind, for example. But I doubt very much it has been done any better than this. I'm sure I found the roots of other writers' work here. Surely Philip Kerr and David Downing read this before starting writing their - equally good - stories? I don't know if they did, it's just a maybe. See what you think.

A haunting and moving book. With a finale as affecting as anything I've read in many a long year. ( )
  Speesh | Mar 29, 2014 |
Berlin, 1964. In the days leading up to Adolf Hitler's 75th birthday celebrations, a body with its foot cut off is fished out of a lake. The case is assigned to Xavier March, a senior investigator in the Kripo police force, and his bumbling partner Max Jaeger.

This is not, as you might have guessed already, the Berlin of 50 years ago as you might remember it, for in Fatherland, which Harris debuted with in 1992, the Nazis emerged victorious from the Second World War. The Greater German Reich now extends from Spain to Russia, with the Soviet Union a fraction of its true size. The Germans are locked in a Cold War with the United States but, in a major diplomatic coup, the incumbent US President Joesph Kennedy (JFK's father) is about to visit Berlin.

The case proves to be politically sensitive. The body is that of Josef Buhler, who proves to have links to several other recent deaths of senior Nazis. Consequently, the Gestapo become interested and a turf war between they and the Kripo ensues. March, not a good Party man, is distrusted even by his 10-year old son and Hitler Youth member Pili.

Initially, Buhler seems to have been involved in fraud with the other dead men, siphoning money into a Swiss bank account - the Swiss have retained their neutrality in this world - and March is, with some reluctance by his bosses, granted permission to travel to Zurich to investigate, alongside American investigative journalist Charlotte "Charlie" Maguire. As both investigate, the fraud appears to be a cover for something much darker which I won't tell you about here or I will spoil the novel's climax.

Harris has meticulously realized his alternate world, but manages to keep the story moving swiftly along without becoming bogged down in describing it. This is a Germany obsessed with paranoia and rank where you are nobody without a uniform and justice is meted out brutally and arbitrarily, not least to March himself. It has, of course, been racially purified as the Nazis would have wished. March discovers the photo of a Jewish family who had previously owned his apartment but all he knows of them and their fellow Jews is that they have been "shipped East".

All in all, this is a highly efficient and readable thriller, although the concept behind it is hardly a novel one - sci-fi writer Philip K. Dick's excellent The Man in the High Castle covered similar ground almost 50 years ago, as, more recently, has CJ Sansom's Dominion. ( )
  Grammath | Mar 5, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (17 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Robert Harrisprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Galle, HubertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lindholm, JuhaniTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rambelli, RobertaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The hundred million self-confident German masters were to be brutally installed in Europe, and secured in power by a monopoly of technical civilisation and the slave-labour of a dwindling native population of neglected, diseased, illiterate cretins, in order that they might have the leisure to buzz along infinite Autobahnen, admire the Strength-Through-Joy Hostel, the Party headquarters, the Military Museum and the Planetarium which their Führer would have built in Linz (his new Hitleropolis), trot round local picture-galleries, and listen over their cream buns to endless recordings of The Merry Widow. This was to be the German Millenium, from which even the imagination was to have no means of escape.
Hugh Trevor-Roper
The Mind of Adolf Hitler
People sometimes say to me: 'Be careful! You will have twenty years of guerilla warfare on your hands!' I am delighted at the prospect ... Germany will remain in a state of perpetual alertness.
Adolf Hitler
29 August 1942
To Gill
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Thick cloud had pressed down on Berlin all night, and now it was lingering into what passed for the morning.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0061006629, Mass Market Paperback)

It is twenty years after Nazi Germany's triumphant victory in World War II and the entire country is preparing for the grand celebration of the FÜhrer's seventy-fifth birthday, as well as the imminent peacemaking visit from President Kennedy.

Meanwhile, Berlin Detective Xavier March -- a disillusioned but talented investigation of a corpse washed up on the shore of a lake. When a dead man turns out to be a high-ranking Nazi commander, the Gestapo orders March off the case immediately. Suddenly other unrelated deaths are anything but routine.

Now obsessed by the case, March teams up with a beautiful, young American journalist and starts asking questions...dangerous questions. What they uncover is a terrifying and long-concealed conspiracy of such astonding and mind-numbing terror that is it certain to spell the end of the Third Reich -- if they can live long enough to tell the world about it.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:35:37 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Unveils the living nightmare of a world planned by the Nazis in reality, but never achieved. It illuminates the trail taken by the loner March, leading him to the discoveries of wartime corruption, Swiss bank vaults, love, danger, and - most terrifying of all - the black heart of the Nazi state.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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