A Good American

A Good American

by Alex George
4.2 64


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A Good American by Alex George

“A beautifully written novel, laced with history and music.” —Emily St. John Mandel, author of Station Eleven


Everything he’d seen had been unimaginably different from the dry, dour streets of home, and to his surprise he was not sorry in the slightest. He was smitten by the beguiling otherness of it all.


And so began my grandfather’s rapturous love affair with America—an affair that would continue until the day he died.

This is the story of the Meisenheimer family, told by James, a third-generation American living in Beatrice, Missouri. It’s where his German grandparents—Frederick and Jette—found themselves after journeying across the turbulent Atlantic, fording the flood-swollen Mississippi, and being brought to a sudden halt by the broken water of the pregnant Jette.

 A Good American tells of Jette’s dogged determination to feed a town sauerkraut and soul food; the loves and losses of her children, Joseph and Rosa; and the precocious voices of James and his brothers, sometimes raised in discord…sometimes in perfect harmony. 

But above all, A Good American is about the music in Frederick’s heart, a song that began as an aria, was jazzed by ragtime, and became an anthem of love for his adopted country that the family still hears to this day.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780399157592
Publisher: Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam
Publication date: 02/07/2012
Pages: 400
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.40(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Alex George is an Englishman who lives, works, and writes in the middle of America. He studied law at Oxford University and worked for eight years as a corporate lawyer in London and Paris before moving to the United States in 2003.

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A Good American 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 64 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I throughly enjoyed reading "A Good American". This is one of the best books that I have read recently. I could not put the book down. It pulls at your very soul. Alex George is a very good author.
Jude39 More than 1 year ago
This is not the usual story of the immigrant family coming to America, but a total immersion into the lives of generations of the Meisenheimers. The way in which this book is written makes you feel as though you are one of them, feeling their triumphs and hurting with their hurts. But there are some twists and turns that will really get your attention and entice you to think back on the family members and their relationships. This was a 'page turner' until the last one.
AvidfanKS More than 1 year ago
This novel is not just a list of someone's lifetime. It holds some twists and turns you don't expect. The writing is good. The main characters and settings are described so well that you can picture them. I like the variety of ages too. Well done! Alex George captured the Midwest, small town atmosphere. My only dissapointment was a few phrases used were really too modern for the period of time in the setting of the family early history. Otherwise. I would have given this book 5 stars.
flyovercountry More than 1 year ago
I bought this book because my great grandmother's 3d husband was named Meisenheimer. She was widowed twice. I'm descended from a child of her first marriage. So this book hit home. Some of the stories ring notes from my own immigrant family's experience in the late 19th century. Some grieved for their homeland, knowing their journey to America would be a better life, but oh, the heartache and backbreaking work it required. Music and their church community were keys to their survival. I am about half through the book, stalled out, but will soldier on and complete it. However I can't help but overlay this story with those told by my own family story tellers.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyable read but it is one of the books that it appear the author got tired after a while and just finished it up.
mjandbg More than 1 year ago
What a wonderful story. I have had in my Nook for several months but just finished it today. I honestly thought this story was nonfiction until I read the notes at the end. It is so well written and just a really heartwarming story
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Rarely do both come together in one package, but A Good American delivers quite satisfactorily. By the end of the novel, Beatrice, Missouri, the Meisenheimers and all the other town's residents feel like home and family. Alex George proves that there are extraordinary stories to be found in the most ordinary lives. Narrated by the late blooming writer of the Meisenheimer family, the story is sustained with both humor and poignancy. Thoroughly enjoyable!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I throughly enjoyed this book. Great cast of characters and interesting plot. Funny, sad and everything in between and beautifully written. If i had to offer a critique it would be that i would have liked to have seen the Kliever family fleshed out a little more considering the ending. All in all very much worth it.
chrissy91 More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful story, just delightful. I am not easily entertained by most of the many novels I read but this one has moved to the top of my list of recommendations.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was one of the best books I've read since "Half Broke Horses" and "The Officer's Wife". It's written as an autobiography and in part is due to the author's own experiences, although he changed the names and locale. I thoroughly enjoyed the imagery provoked by the detail and the characters' daily lives. It moves from Germany to Missouri, via New Orleans and covers WWI, racial unrest, and a family's struggle to survive and thrive in a new country. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
American-Patriot More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed reading The Good American.It follows a couple who emigrates from Germany because of her parents not accepting their love. It includes the story of their ship traveling to America, how they land in New Orleans, then travel to Missouri, make their home there, raise their children, and then follows the next generation. It was interesting, happy and sad at times, and tells about life at that time in America. Good read!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was so eager to read this book, thinking it would be one to curl up with on the couch. After the first few pages, I was still excited and interested in the strong characters. However, as I read further, the story didn't sound like real life. A man leaving his country with only the clothes he's wearing? A bartender who teaches an immigrant wrong English phrases? A wife so addled with pregnancy that she has no other thoughts? A wife who will not read ANY of her soldier husband's letters? Come on! I like this book, but it feels like 'magical realism.' And I felt tricked to find out this is not really the story of the author's own grandparents. The down and dirty of life in an new country was not there. And the simple motivations of some characters did not ring true. I think Alex George writes smooth, flowing prose, but I need characters who are more multidimensional and less cardboard figures.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a marvelous story! A real page turner - I could not put it down. Being a german immigrant myself....it made me think a lot about my countrymen who came here long before me and why...........I look forward to more books from this author!
jkohler More than 1 year ago
I grew up listening to the family stories of my German ancestors, so I was immediately attracted to this book. Although I found the sections and chapters a bit episodic, they present a lot of themes akin to many immigrants from all over. I only wish it would have explored these themes a little deeper. At some points it felt like George was trying to squeeze in too many details, and the jumps in time between chapters were unpredictable, making it hard to know exactly what year or where I was at in the timeline of their lives. Overall though, I found this to be a good, enjoyable read. I live in Missouri, in the same town as the author, so it felt local to me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best books I have read in many years. From Germany to Missouri via New Orleans, spanning four generations; the author weaves a tale that is hard to put down. Would make an epic motion picture!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book. A page turner from the very start.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I bought this book based on the overview and number of stars ithad received. I am so glad I bought it. It is a delightful glide in a canoe on a summer day with unexpected fast currents and surprises around the bends in the river of the lives of the generations of this family. From the original immigrant great great grandparents through to present time. I loved meeting all of them. They truly are the story of all of us. Well written, great character developement. A really great read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
JCgirl More than 1 year ago
The story of an immigrant family as they travel from Germany to America. Their adjustment to American life and the children they raise. It is a multigenerational story of the American dream and everyday life that comes in their way. I like this book because the author tells the story through James the third-generation American living in Beatrice, Missouri.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I want this book right now
pxxee More than 1 year ago
Loved this book!!!!! People need to keep in mind that this is a work of fiction and not an historical account of a real family.  It was well written, entertaining, and laced with a subtle humor that made it a fun book to read.  It won't change your life, or teach you American History, but you will embrace this quirky family and enjoy the time you spent with them.   
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is another one of those books I couldn't put down and have re-read it more than once. I highly recommend this book to people.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago