The Man in the High Castle

The Man in the High Castle

3.8 112
by Philip K. Dick

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It's America in 1962. Slavery is legal once again. the few Jews who still survive hide under assumed names. In San Francisco the I Ching is as common as the Yellow Pages. All because some 20 years earlier the United States lost a war—and is now occupied jointly by Nazi Germany and Japan.

This harrowing, Hugo Award-winning novel is the work that…  See more details below


It's America in 1962. Slavery is legal once again. the few Jews who still survive hide under assumed names. In San Francisco the I Ching is as common as the Yellow Pages. All because some 20 years earlier the United States lost a war—and is now occupied jointly by Nazi Germany and Japan.

This harrowing, Hugo Award-winning novel is the work that established Philip K. Dick as an innovator in science fiction while breaking the barrier between science fiction and the serious novel of ideas. In it Dick offers a haunting vision of history as a nightmare from which it may just be possible to awake.

Editorial Reviews

Gale Research
The novel's "man in the high castle" is the author of an underground bestseller about an alternate world where America won the war. "I did seven years of research for The Man in the High Castle," Dick said in an interview for the Missouri Review. "I had prime-source material at the Berkeley-Cal library right from the gestapo's mouth--stuff that had been seized after World War II.... That's ... why I've never written a sequel to it: it's too horrible, too awful. I started several times to write a sequel, but I [would have] had to go back and read about Nazis again, so I couldn't do it." Dick used the I Ching, an ancient Chinese divining system, to plot The Man in the High Castle. At each critical juncture in the narrative, Dick consulted the I Ching to determine the proper course of the plot.
Publishers Weekly
Dick's Hugo Award-winning 1962 alternative history considers the question of what would have happened if the Allied Powers had lost WWII. Some 20 years after that loss, the United States and much of the world has now been split between Japan and Germany, the major hegemonic states. But the tension between these two powers is mounting, and this stress is playing out in the western U.S. Through a collection of characters in various states of posing (spies, sellers of falsified goods, others with secret identities), Dick provides an intriguing tale about life and history as it relates to authentic and manufactured reality. Tom Weiner reveals an impressive vocal range that delivers the host of characters with distinct culture, class and gender personas, which helps to sort the various plot strands. His prose reading is engaging, though sometimes lacks sufficient emphasis and energy.
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Product Details

Viking Penguin
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Meet the Author

Over a writing career that spanned three decades, Philip K. Dick (1928-1982) published 36 science fiction novels and 121 short stories in which he explored the essence of what makes man human and the dangers of centralized power. Toward the end of his life, his work turned toward deeply personal, metaphysical questions concerning the nature of God. Eleven novels and short stories have been adapted to film; notably: Blade Runner (based on Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?), Total Recall, Minority Report, and A Scanner Darkly. The recipient of critical acclaim and numerous awards throughout his career, Dick was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2005, and in 2007 the Library of America published a selection of his novels in three volumes. His work has been translated into more than twenty-five languages.

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The Man in the High Castle 3.8 out of 5 based on 4 ratings. 112 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I don't like alternate history stories, dating back, I think, to when I was a kid and I read those stupid 'What If...' issues published by Marvel Comics. (You know, 'What If Peter Parker hadn't been bitten by the radioactive spider...,''What If Daredevil wasn't blind...,''What If Wolverine shaved his sideburns...,' etc.) The Man in the High Castle, however, was excellent, setting the bar for the genre. The premise is intriguing: suppose an assassination attempt had claimed the life of FDR during his first term as president. As a result, America never fully recovered from the Great Depression, and was unable to arm herself sufficiently to turn the tide of WWII. As a result, the Axis powers were victorious, and occupied a divided United States after the war. Dick ties together his diverse cast of characters with a common fascination with 'The Grasshopper Lies Heavy,' an alternative history book that suggests the Allies would have won the war had FDR lived. Dick's central theme through most of his work has always been the nature of reality and perception, and this book is no exception. This is not a book to skim through for the major plot points -- the plot is actually the least compelling reason to read it. Savor the meditative and philosophical prose instead, and enjoy one of the genre's finest authors in his prime.
tickleishpickle More than 1 year ago
There are books out there that don't just challenge the reader, there are books that change the reader. The man in the high castle, by philip k dick is one of those books. This book, like all of dick's writing, is revolutionary. It is challenging. It is completely and utterly bizzare. It is unique, difficult, simple, readable, entertaining, schizophrenic and so much more than any set of adjectives can covey. This book is not about the plot. It's about what the plot means. The plot, like all of dick's novels, is cohesive and interesting and detailed. It is fully realized and detailed; it is completely authentic. In this world, the axis wins WW 2. The world that results is a world where Japan and Germany have divided the world in two, with the United States serving the role of Germany after our version of WW2. Japan dominates the west coast while Germany lords over the east. Apparently the heartland of America had nothing to offer to either side. Jokes aside (especially bad jokes), this novel is an utterly amazing and philosophical exploration of the impact of morality on each and every choice. It uses the chaos of the plot to accentuate the moral decisions made by each character. In fact the chaos of the world this novel takes place in works as a sort of synecdoche for each person and each person's choices. The whole world is difficult, and each event impacts a web of other events. The world and it's events mirror each individual person, they stand in the place of each individual person. The plot unfolds through the narration of five people, ranging in importance from a low level worker to an important German politician. Each person makes choices, and each choice has a moral consequence. read the full review at
theactuallisakim More than 1 year ago
I'm pretty shocked by some of the negative reviews here. The word that controls most of these reviews is 'boring,' which is odd. I suppose for a generation unable to watch a film that doesn't have an explosion of some sort within the first minute of the movie, a book like this might seem boring (then again, maybe we should be happy that Generation No Attention Span even bothered to pick up a book in the first place!) This is one of the books PKD is best known for. With good reason. For those of you who didn't "get" what PKD's point was, he is simply asking you to question everything you are told about who the winners and losers in a war are. I think the end of this book is one of the most chilling, disturbing conclusions I have ever read. Literally gave me goosebumps. Then again, I can focus on something for more than three minutes at a time, so maybe, in this day and age, I'm some sort of freak!
Tunguz More than 1 year ago
Philip K. Dick is a master of unconventional sci-fi and fantasy genre, and those qualities are clearly exhibited in this work. It is set in 1960s America in a world in which Germany and Japan have won the World War II. US and the rest of the world are divided between those two superpowers, and we follow lives of several ordinary Americans who try to adjust themselves to this reality. The characters in the novel are fully developed in a manner that we've come to expect from Dick's later novels. Their personal struggles are intertwined with the new geopolitical power plays. The title of the novel refers to the sobriquet for Hawthorne Abendsen, a fictional writer of the book "The Grasshopper Lies Heavy" which forms a story-within-a-story and a sort of MacGuffin for this novel. This fictional book will also be at the center of the denouement of this novel, and may provide the clue for what this novel was all about. The Man in the High Castle is another brilliant and thought provoking novel. It is an engrossing and fun read as well, and a true classic of science fiction.
Anonymous 11 months ago
Truth to tell, I read this after watching the TV series in the hopes of clearing up some questions. Turns out the book and the series are quite different. Same characters, same locations (mostly, anyway), same basic themes. But different plot lines and character types. Book was great. That much is certain. Series based on the book, just OK.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book! Not too many books actually make you think anymore. This is classic Dick, a throughly original and deeply philosophical novel that makes you question what or whodetermines fate. I feel more enlightened having read this.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The first time I read this book I didn't really think it was that great. I liked it but I was a little bit confused by it, and I didn't think it measured up to other works by Dick like Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? However, I recently re-read it after recieving it as a birthday present, and I must say that it makes much more sense the second time through. I noticed glimpses of Dick's genius that had slipped by me before and finally understood everything that was going on. Not only is the premise extremely interesting, but I also like how it doesn't just get bogged down in the geo-political implications of an Axis victory, but deals more with actual people who live in this strange and different world. At times shocking at others just silly it is a great read that doesn't really require too much thinking, but rather provokes thought on the part of the reader.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In 1938 (or there about, there was an attempt to kill FDR during his run for re-election), what if he *had* been killed? Only Philip K. Dick (who won the Hugo Award for SF that year for this novel) could answer this question in so intriguing a way. (A short film called 'The High Castle' was made based on it). Enjoy!
Countmonster More than 1 year ago
I picked this nook book up because I just watched the Amazon pilot based on the book. It's just as fantastic as I remember it to be, the pilot was pretty good too. PKD has a beautiful zen paranoia in his writing. Pretty much everything by him deals with trust, or lack of. No one knows what anyone else is ever thinking, and they are always trying to assume it is something negative. Neurosis abounds in PKD novels and it's beautiful and wrenching all at once. TMITHC is no different than his other works in that regard. But this book has always been kind of special to me because it's an incredible, open ended alternate history book. Don't get hung up if you're only used to his futuristic dystopian sci-fi, this is just as good, if not better than a lot of his other stories.
MyklSkeleton More than 1 year ago
I really like Philip K Dick but for some reason I had never read this one. I finally picked it up and am glad I did. It's a memorable story with some crazy characters but it's more grounded than some of his other work. I liked the incorporation of the I, Ching and Asian culture in general. My main problem with it was there didn't seem to much of a plot for quite some time. But I can deal with that and go along for the ride. The other thing that some people might not like is that it ends right before things wrap-up. This is typical of Dick and I've come to accept that but it makes your really wish there was a sequel. Overall though, a great book.
Anonymous 27 days ago
Definitely visionary to the brain and reading. Great book, don't want to spoil anything other than saying its a must read. But, it does get a little confusing because it shows many conflicts from many people at the same time. Just reread certain passages if lost.
kplivermore 3 months ago
Great TV series from a boring book. I have been enjoying the Amazon series, and decided to read the book while waiting for season 2. The series is only very loosely based on the characters and plot. The book is more deep character musings about life and culture, and leans heavily on the I Ching to supposedly drive what little plot there is. The ending was very disappointing. Maybe there was supposed to be a sequel to explore the alternate universe premise?
Larry46 6 months ago
I love alternate History; But this was Dull and Boring;
Anonymous 8 months ago
The Amazon miniseries captivated me, can't wait to read the book!
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Anonymous 12 months ago
This book made me really think about what if we had lost WWII. I had to come up for air a couple times; but then I just dove right back into the pages. So glad I read this.
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I aways thought this book was written to make us realize how important the small things are.
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