Customer Reviews for

The Good German

Average Rating 4
( 33 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(11)

4 Star

(12)

3 Star

(6)

2 Star

(3)

1 Star

(1)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

Well done if somewhat cut-by-numbers

I had looked forward to reading this book for a long time, so I was happy when I finally found a space for it in my reading schedule -- so I could get to watch the movie, if for no other reason! I was incredibly surprised at how closely this book tracked, in detail if n...
I had looked forward to reading this book for a long time, so I was happy when I finally found a space for it in my reading schedule -- so I could get to watch the movie, if for no other reason! I was incredibly surprised at how closely this book tracked, in detail if not in plot, to the classic movie "Berlin Express" starring Robert Ryan and Merle Oberon, down to the parts about providing sufficient calories to the post-war German population, etc. Perhaps Joseph Kanon was channelling this story as well in his look at how Nazi rocket scientists came to be integrated into the American military industrial complex? In any event, I have to agree with just about every other reviewer so far: the story was by far secondary to the setting, and the characterization, prose style, pacing, and last but not least, the ending were all little more than pedestrian. Still, you have to admire Kanon's willingness to explore the fascinating question of how can one find individual fault in postwar German society when the entire country was in some manner complicit in the horrific crimes of the Nazi regime. Furthermore, so much has been written about "the greatest generation" during the war that it is easy to forget that there was an aftermath to this war that this generation did so poorly in addressing, leading to a decades-long, wasteful political struggle that we still feel ramifications of today. (For a quirky, well-done alternate history tale of the von Braun rocket team working for the United Kingdom, check out Warren Ellis' "Ministry of Space." The afterword alone is worth the price of the book.) Overall, read this book not to expect a great mystery or thriller, but instead to get a flavor of a fascinating, poorly-inspected time in 20th Century history. That elevated this cut-by-numbers effort into a four-star novel.

posted by PatrickZJD on September 12, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

Muddled politics and implausible situations

Certainly starts with an interesting premise and the plot line sounds good but the execution is disappointing. The author can't seem to square away the various political forces at work - both US internal and international - with any sort of moral grounding. The charac...
Certainly starts with an interesting premise and the plot line sounds good but the execution is disappointing. The author can't seem to square away the various political forces at work - both US internal and international - with any sort of moral grounding. The characters are not very convincing either. In the whole, it lack realism and displays little thought or wisdom. Maybe it works better as just another mystery but I'm no fan of that genre. If it is any succor, the movie version is much, much worst.

posted by Anonymous on September 26, 2007

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  • Posted September 12, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Well done if somewhat cut-by-numbers

    I had looked forward to reading this book for a long time, so I was happy when I finally found a space for it in my reading schedule -- so I could get to watch the movie, if for no other reason! I was incredibly surprised at how closely this book tracked, in detail if not in plot, to the classic movie "Berlin Express" starring Robert Ryan and Merle Oberon, down to the parts about providing sufficient calories to the post-war German population, etc. Perhaps Joseph Kanon was channelling this story as well in his look at how Nazi rocket scientists came to be integrated into the American military industrial complex? In any event, I have to agree with just about every other reviewer so far: the story was by far secondary to the setting, and the characterization, prose style, pacing, and last but not least, the ending were all little more than pedestrian. Still, you have to admire Kanon's willingness to explore the fascinating question of how can one find individual fault in postwar German society when the entire country was in some manner complicit in the horrific crimes of the Nazi regime. Furthermore, so much has been written about "the greatest generation" during the war that it is easy to forget that there was an aftermath to this war that this generation did so poorly in addressing, leading to a decades-long, wasteful political struggle that we still feel ramifications of today. (For a quirky, well-done alternate history tale of the von Braun rocket team working for the United Kingdom, check out Warren Ellis' "Ministry of Space." The afterword alone is worth the price of the book.) Overall, read this book not to expect a great mystery or thriller, but instead to get a flavor of a fascinating, poorly-inspected time in 20th Century history. That elevated this cut-by-numbers effort into a four-star novel.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Profound, Insightful, Intriguing

    Deeply profound, yet shattering in its illumination of the dark days following the defeat of Germany in 1945. Though at times the story seems to plod, it reflects the reality. Kanon has achieved a similar psychological impact for the reader as befell those living in the times--overwhelming disbelief, scorched ruins, suspended anticipation, denial, relentless stamina, indifference, horror, cut-throat opportunism, contradicting moralities, ugly truths, hidden motives, sacrificial dedication, culpable acts, limitless egos, universal guilt, mazes within mazes of intrigue--and yet infinite hope runs parallel to Jake Geismar's quest to find, first, his lost love, and then to solve the mystery of who killed the American soldier dragged out of the waters in the Russian zone during the Potsdam Conference. How quickly the Holocaust was forgotten in the race to be first in space and to get rich on the spoils of war! A cowardly yet greedy human condition, as sad as that is, that still goes on and existed before the Holocaust began and went on while the Holocaust occurred. Kanon takes the stark truth and creates characters to reflect it--not in paper-thin stereotypes but in real examples, and if they seem to stretch credibility for some readers, it is because they did not experience it and can judge with rosy hindsight. A literary triumph that deserves five stars!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 26, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Close to reality fiction-novel

    This book is one of the best novels created which highlighted the life of people after the Nazi domination. The wreckage and pain that power has made was evident in this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 30, 2009

    Decent book

    I found the number of characters to be hard to follow sometimes, but enjoyed the plot. There were moments where I found myself getting worried for the character. It does take you to a place and time that aren't spoken of, and shows a very different world. I do have some quibbles, but mostly it was enjoyable.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2007

    Muddled politics and implausible situations

    Certainly starts with an interesting premise and the plot line sounds good but the execution is disappointing. The author can't seem to square away the various political forces at work - both US internal and international - with any sort of moral grounding. The characters are not very convincing either. In the whole, it lack realism and displays little thought or wisdom. Maybe it works better as just another mystery but I'm no fan of that genre. If it is any succor, the movie version is much, much worst.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2006

    Too far to go for the payoff

    I had mixed emotions after finishing this book. I thought it was well written and the main characters were well developed but the plot moved very slowley and by the time the ending payed off, I no longer cared about 'who dunnit'

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2009

    Interesting historically; good plot

    I enjoyed this audio book. It held my attention easily, however I might have enjoyed it more if I had read it.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 22, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    The Good German

    This is a wonderful novel filled with suspense, intrigue, romance, spies, and excellent prose. I totally enjoyed the way the book was plotted and the skill with which the writer told a story. I would definitely recommend it for it's thrilling, edge-of-your-seat experience.

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  • Posted April 13, 2009

    Poorly performed and tedious

    I found the book average but the audio performace poor and uninvolving.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2009

    The SO SO German

    I thought this book started off to slow but built to a satisfying ending. This might be, in my opinion, one of the few times the movie improved a the book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2004

    A city down on its heels and its luck

    ¿The Good German¿ is set in post-World War II Berlin, a place of espionage, dirty tricks, black market activities and human suffering. A murder takes place in 1945 as the Allied leaders are gathering for their Potsdam conference (an American officer's body is discovered floating in a lake in the Russian occupation zone, his pockets full of money). But more than just a murder mystery, there are larger themes in the book, such as collective guilt, a society that succumbed to genocide, and the justice of the victors. The book¿s main character is an American who is involved in a love triangle, a situation somewhat reminiscent of ¿Casablanca.¿ Conveniently, the hero always seems to be in the right place at the right time as well as bulletproof. And the car chase absolutely defies belief! However, even though the plot unravels a bit, I found the book to be a moving portrait of a city down on its heels and its luck, where corruption and violence are commonplace and where even the innocent may be compromised.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2004

    More History Than Mystery

    I never read mysteries, I dont find plot as interesting as characterization, which mysteries often lack. That being said this came highly recommended so I took a chance, and became so intrigued by this whole period of history, that I was inspired to read some non fiction books about the fall of Berlin. I will never forget this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2003

    Very slow start, but it picks up...

    I had a hard time sticking with this one, and I notice all other reviews contained five stars, so maybe this just was not my usual type of book. I would, however, recommend it to anyone who likes crime/mystery/drama and war fiction, or nonfiction for that matter. I just found myself not too interested in turning the pages in the beginning. Luckily, the twists and turns make up for the slow start.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 15, 2002

    Twisted Thriller

    The end of World War II and the convergence of beliefs and philosophies in occupied Berlin still fascinate history buffs. Enemies became friends, and friends became enemies as the pendulum of power swung from fanatic Nazis to conspiratorial allies on the verge of cold war. Joseph Kanon takes this setting and creates a murder mystery that gives new insight into the reality of history through the experience of ordinary people. Through the lambrinth of espionage emerges tough choices and cynical trade offs that bring new meaning to the phrase: "Let the end justify the means." This story is a wake-up call to those blinded by naive patriotism. When do the vanguished become the victimizers? In today's war on terrorism, it is a question to be reconsidered through a historical perspective, and Kanon makes readers face the rhetoric.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2001

    A taut murder investigation set in post-war 1945 Berlin

    A news correspondent in Berlin before the war, Jake Geismar, now returns to cover the Potsdam Conference and write articles for Colliers Magazine. Jake's highest priority is finding his former lover Lena, the wife of a pre-war university mathematics professor and later Nazi scientist working in the German rocket program. When a lieutenant that flew into Berlin with Jake is found dead by Russian guards at a reception near Potsdam with thousands of occupation marks in his pockets, Jake can't resist becoming involved in the investigation. Jake's search for answers leads to involvement with the Army CID (Criminal Investigation), Army Intelligence, and Russian Intelligence. Jake enlists the aid of a former savvy German policeman and people in the black market to find the reasons behind the murder. As his investigation proceeds, the situation becomes increasingly dangerous and he finds himself not knowing who to trust. This is an interesting read with more than a murder investigation at its core. The author paints a vivid picture of Berlin immediately after the end of World War II. The destruction was massive and disease, hunger, and displaced persons were everywhere. The Berliners had to degrade themselves to eat and survive. The birth of a huge black market and the chance for riches infected the Allies as well as the Germans. Destroying information and creating false documents to protect those guilty of war crimes was a thriving business. The tension between the Western Allies and the Russians was at a dangerous level and the competition between these former Allies for the services of German scientists was intense.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2001

    exciting look at Berlin just after the Nazi defeat

    Before World War II forced him to leave, Jake Geismar, was CBS¿ reporter in Berlin. Now with the war over, CBS sends Jake back to Berlin to cover the Potsdam Conference. An obsessed Jake could not care less about a stuffy conference with a bunch of aging heads of state ready to carve up Europe like the failed efforts of Metternich a century before. Instead, Jake needs to know what happened to his prewar lover, Lena. <P>Jake becomes interested in the corpse of an American soldier whose murdered body is found near the conference. The intriguing part of this homicide is the Ally military leadership efforts to sweep the murder under a rug. Jake¿s journalist instincts smell a big story so he begins his own inquires that take him on a tour of the battered from the capital of the Third Reich and the competition among the winners to grab the spoils of victory, including the German scientists like Lena's husband. <P> THE GOOD GERMAN is an exciting look at Berlin just after the Nazi defeat. The story line is fantastic when the characters deal with ethics and morality especially local efforts to expunge feelings of guilt over atrocities and over losing. The tale slows down when Joseph Kanon turns it more into a thriller that interferes with an incredible character study filled with pathos as Allies and Germans feel different degrees of inadequacy, guilt, mistrust, and denial. <P>Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2010

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