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SS-GB: Nazi-occupied Britain, 1941 by Len…

SS-GB: Nazi-occupied Britain, 1941 (original 1978; edition 1979)

by Len Deighton

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8591910,397 (3.62)40
Title:SS-GB: Nazi-occupied Britain, 1941
Authors:Len Deighton
Info:Triad Books (1979), Edition: New Ed, Paperback, 464 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

SS-GB by Len Deighton (1978)

  1. 50
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  2. 00
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  3. 00
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  4. 00
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English (16)  French (2)  Danish (1)  All (19)
Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
This is a re-read, occasioned by watching the BBC adaptation of it that finished last weekend. When I read the novel in 2008, I felt somewhat ambiguous about it; seeing the adaptation and having its imagery fresh in my mind certainly enhanced my appreciation of the characters in particular. However, I still feel that the plot is too convoluted and in places difficult to follow. The moral ambiguity of many of the characters is mostly welcome though, again, at times annoying (re Mayhew in particular). The novel is well written and the grimy and oppressive reality of a Britain in late 1941 where the Nazis successfully invaded earlier that year and have taken over the country and all its institutions in the space of a few short months, is chillingly stark in its presentation. The atmosphere is just sometimes let down by the details of the actual plot. ( )
  john257hopper | Mar 24, 2017 |
After losing the Battle of Britain, Britain is now an occupied country, with the Germans assuming superior roles in all offices of influence, including the police. Detective Inspector Douglas Archer of Scotland Yard is not happy with the state of affairs but he keeps his head down, only wanting to do his job, which causes some of his colleagues to accuse him of being a collaborator. One day he is called to investigate the shooting of an art dealer in Shepherd Market, which at first looks like a routine murder inquiry but quickly turns into anything but. When the Resistance begins to take an interest in Archer, he must decide once and for all where his loyalties lie.

Surely one of the earliest alternative history novels, it surprised me to find out that it was written nearly 40 years ago, as the writing and the plot have barely dated. It is a political thriller with a superb evocation of Britain as it would have been had the Germans not lost the Battle of Britain – the fear and suspicion, and the internal conflict between resisting the Germans and allowing some degree of cooperation are explored convincingly and in great detail. Unfortunately some of the characters' motivations become heavily muddled so that it's not always easy to understand what's going on. (I'm hoping that the current BBC TV series will partially illuminate this side of the novel. - Alas, it didn't.) The beginning is quite slow but then the book picks up pace, and there are some genuine surprises in store for the reader. Almost uniquely, the murderer isn't revealed until the very last page, and the solution wouldn't have occurred to me, though whether that's the author's ingenuity or just the result of a muddled plot, I don't know; I will have to re-read it to be sure.

The author has clearly researched the hierarchy of the German command structure very well, to the extent that the plot was slightly neglected, in my opinion. A glossary in the appendix would have been of enormous benefit to understand some of the power struggles that lie at the heart of the novel. Definitely worth a re-read. ( )
1 vote passion4reading | Mar 7, 2017 |
Strangely disappointing. It begins well enough, but the plot is very confusing and in some places the story is so thinly described that one loses track of who's doing what to whom. I wish books that use German military titles would give a glossary, I get very confused. ( )
  mlfhlibrarian | Mar 6, 2017 |
A nice alternate history crime novel. Set in Nazi occupied Britain after Britain loses world war 2, and the Nazis don't invade the Soviet Union.

Douglas Archer, detective, Scotland Yard, has a body with radiation burns, a piece of a prosthetic limb and a conscience that struggles with working under the Nazi regime.

It's a good crime/police investigation novel coupled with the intrigue and shadows that come with a resistance movement working in an occupied country. Plus there's a conspiracy to free King George V from the Tower of London.

Enjoyable with a realistic air of history despite never having occurred. ( )
  HenriMoreaux | Sep 4, 2016 |
WARNING: This review contains spoilers!


This book began from a conversation Deighton had around the time of his non-fiction book Fighter. A friend wondered what might have happened if the Allies had lost the Battle of Britain, and Deighton replied that actually there was a lot of information available regarding the Germans' invasion plans. So after much deliberation over how the story would look, including who to choose as a protagonist, Deighton produced SS-GB.

This is an excellent concept, and Deighton delivers on the details as usual. I also think his choice of protagonist was solid, as explained in his introduction. But for some reason I could not settle into the story. The most emotional moments were the ones of breathtakingly casual cruelty, such as the death of Winston Churchill and the death of King George VI. Otherwise the story was almost mind-numbing in its bleakness, and it took actual physical effort to force myself to continue. It would be interesting to compare this with Dominion, by C.J. Sansom, or other books that deal with an alternate history of WW2, in terms of protagonist and emotional appeal. ( )
  rabbitprincess | Feb 25, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
If anyone can make one of those if-history-had-been-different concoctions really click, it's Len Deighton--right? Well, almost. The idea is that Germany (SS) invaded and conquered Britain (GB) in 1940, so now it's 1941--ravaged London under Nazi occupation. ... [t]he conspiracies ... are less than convincing, more than a bit confusing, unsatisfying at the close -- below par for Deighton. But Deighton's feel for atmosphere is unrivaled, and his flair for character has never been surer; the Germans especially are a varied and perversely sympathetic lot. ... You may not much care -- or even understand -- what's going on, suspense-wise, in Deighton's make-believe England; but you'll find it a wonderfully creepy place for a visit.
added by Roycrofter | editKirkus' Reviews (Feb 1, 1979)
In het door de Duitsers in 1941 bezette Engeland ontbrandt strijd om een vitaal rapport over atoomsplitsing tussen de Engelse ondergrondse en diverse onderdelen van de Duitse bezettingsmacht. Ingewikkelde intrige, waarin de thema's ondergronds verzet, spionage, ontvoering, moord, met elkaar verweven zijn. De tegenspelers - Engels politie-inspecteur en Duits legerofficier - (antihelden) worden psychologisch goed getekend in hun tweestrijd tussen loyaliteit en overmacht. Ook de bijfiguren zijn goed getypeerd. Korte zinnen en suggestief taalgebruik scheppen een sfeer van spanning, onontkoombaarheid, wantrouwen, machteloosheid, in de trieste omgeving van bezet Londen. Goede vertaling. Vrij kleine druk.
(Biblion recensie, A. van den Berg-Brandt.)
added by karnoefel | editNBD / Biblion
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'In England they're filled with curiosity and keep asking, "Why doesn't he come?' Be calm. Be calm. He's coming! He's coming! --Adlof Hitler 4 September, 1940 at a rally of nurses and social workers in Berlin.
First words
"Himmler's got the King locked up in the Tower of London," said Harry Woods.
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
England, 1941. Buckingham Palace is a smoldering ruin. The King of England is a prisoner in the Tower of London. Winston Churchill is dead--executed by a firing squad. Once, England ruled the most powerful empire on earth. Now she belongs to Hitler. For Scotland Yard's top detective, Douglas Archer, life must go on. And as life goes on, so indeed does murder. But soon the trail of clues--a charred corpse, a suave Berlin emissary, a secluded seaside resort--turns into a dangerously swinging tightrope of violence and betrayal as Archer, a man just trying to survive, is caught between the embittered patriotism of the underground and a Nazi maze of secrets and doom that threatens to cover all England in a final, fatal mist that glows like the heart of an atom. [from the book cover]
Haiku summary
Douglas Archer solves
scientist's death in Nazi-
occupied Britain.

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In February 1941, British Command surrendered to the Nazis. Churchill has been executed, the King is in the tower and the SS are in Whitehall. This is a spy story quite different from any other. Only Deighton, with his flair for historical research and his narrative genius could have written it.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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