All That I Am

All That I Am

by Anna Funder

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Award-winning author Anna Funder delivers an affecting and beautifully evocative debut novel about a group of young German exiles who risk their lives to awaken the world to the terrifying threat of Hitler and Nazi Germany. Based on real-life events and people, All That I Am brings to light the heroic, tragic, and true story of a small group of left-wing German social activists who mounted a fierce and cunning resistance from their perilous London exile, in a novel that fans of Suite Francaise, The Piano Teacher, and Atonement will find irresistible and unforgettable.

“An intimate exploration of human connection and our responsibility to one another.” —Colum McCann, author of Let the Great World Spin

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062077585
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 02/07/2012
Series: P.S.
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 331,578
File size: 616 KB

About the Author

Anna Funder's international bestseller, Stasiland, won the Samuel Johnson Prize for nonfiction. Her debut novel, All That I Am, has won many prizes, including the prestigious Miles Franklin Literary Award. Anna Funder lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and children.

What People are Saying About This

Rachel Cusk

“A remarkable story told with clarity and precision, along with moments of insight and literary grace.”

Colum McCann

“History, like hope, is not something to be solved, but to be carried. Anna Funder has written an essential novel about how we carry the bricks of history on our backs…”

Betsey Burton

“Like Hillary Mantel’s brilliant WOLF HALL, Funder’s new book is not just a novel or thriller, and is also far more than mere history.”

Ann Patchett

“In ALL THAT I AM, Anna Funder delivers a sweeping first novel that covers love and war, friendship and betrayal, and the bonds that define a life. It is a moving and ambitious work.”

Customer Reviews

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All That I Am: A Novel 3.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
Rebecca_Berto More than 1 year ago
Got up to 58% and then realised if I wasn't pulled in by now it'd never happen. This novel was well researched, well written, had a great feel but ultimately slow and nothing grabbed me by the throat and kept me going. Sad I couldn't finish. I really, really did want to. If I was obsessed by WWII, Nazis, and Jews might have been obsessed but this novel but it wasn't for me. Maybe it's for you instead.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I wasn't sure what to expect when i first started reading this book, but I am so glad I read it. It is extremely well written and researched. The historical details added depth that cannot be acheived in any other way. It did take me a chapter or two to totally get into it, but i am glad i hung in there. If you are looking for a book that is a light, cheery read, this definitely isn't the book for you. It is heavy and depressing at times, but so was the reality of the time period this book is set in. I became attached to the characters and found myself feeling the sorrow, pain, and occassional happiness as they must have. I highly reccommend this book for anyone interested in an historically-based Nazi Germany story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I started reading this book unsure of what to expect. I found myself completely pulled in to the story and blown away by the author's beautiful prose and ability to create believable and relatable characters. This book is set mostly in pre WWII times and deals with real life people who tried to stop Hitler from coming into power. Highly recommended.
nicx27 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Like other reviewers, I'm afraid I found this a difficult book to engage with. The first line about being in the bath when Hitler came to power is very powerful,and the prologue drew me in but I then just couldn't get into the story at all. I preferred the parts told by Ruth to the parts told by Toller, but generally neither narrative really grabbed me in the way I would have hoped.I may revisit the book at some point in the future, but for the time being I'm going to move on to something else.
RobinDawson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I liked Stasiland very much, but All That I Am seems confused as to its nature. It has qualities of memoir, biography, history and fiction, and the result is a muddle, and quite unsatisfying as a novel. I think she should have stuck to the historical story rather than translate it into the genre of fiction. Funder is keen to expose what was going on in Germany in the pre-war years but the tone is earnest rather than engaging. While the lead characters might be true to history, perhaps the facts were weighing them down; I felt they lacked colour and appeal. In addition, the wide range of secondary characters, only sketched in, made it hard to keep track of who they were. Finally, I didn¿t like the mix of present tense and reminiscence used by the two main narrators ¿ it was bit disorienting.
hollysing on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
All That I Am displays great respect for people acting in heroic ways during wartime. Set in the 1920s and 1930s, we follow Ruth, Dora, Hans and Toller living in Germany. They work as part of the underground against the Third Reich. They are expelled outside of the Reich¿s borders and wind up in London as refugees.Ms. Funder helps us understand the premise of her book through the voice of two minor characters. ¿All that we are not stares back at all that we are.¿ P. 96¿ We must believe in God¿because if we don¿t we will have to believe in man, and then we will only be disappointed.¿ P. 237 We learn, however that some of the main characters exceed expectations and act courageously and with little fear for their own fates in order to inform England of Hitler¿s threat.The premise is extraordinary, and is based on true events. I found the book disjointed. The point of view and time periods switch often. This complicates the reading, despite the fact that chapter headings reveal the character speaking. The outcome grabs you by the collar, but the ¿getting there¿ is a bit of a maze. Reviewed by Holly Weiss, author of Crestmont
voz on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
After Stasiland, this is a step backwards. It's writing is superficial and although I wanted to care about the characters, they are outlined and not developed internally. On this ground, for me it does not work as a novel. The sources and acknowledgements at the back look like fascinating starting points to develop ideas and characters from. Looking at "All That I Am", it reads as a series of events with short chapters and extensive use of paragraphing and dialogue, as if I could be willed into a film script without any effort by the reader. Perhaps this was aimed at the 18 to 30 generation who with high school history under their belt might respond to historical events with interest. The problem for me was not the research, it was in the writer's skill in writing creatively and having the ability to get into the skin of the characters. I persevered with it, although I could sense within the first 50 pages that there was little substance behind the hype.
Beamis12 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I love books that feature real life events and the people who figured prominently in them. The historical data and the characters in this book were fascinating, I just had a little trouble with the format. I appreciated that the book chapters were headed with the persons name, but within the chapters themselves the events were related into the past and the present. Different chapters also did this, back and forth and while I could keep track of what was happening when, it served as a distraction and kept me becoming fully invested in the story. I would get into one part and it would be switched to another, very frustrating especially since this was a very well written book. Just really didn't care for the structure.
jody on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I struggled with this one. Although the story was based on fact and compelling in its content, I found my mind wandering and not really taken to task with the character portrayals. I continued to read, hoping for some connection, but to the very end I remained nonplus over Ruth and her cousins plight. My lack of empathy is uncommon, as I usually feel deeply for those who suffered so in the hands of Hitler's Nazi Germany. I can only conclude that Funder's style does not grab at my heart with the serverity that other writers such as Nemirovsky and Schlink do.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you see a really long review and you DO read it, DON'T get upset that you just read the entire book from some random person's point of view!!! Come on, take SOME responsibility for the book being ruined for you! (By the way: to you jackasses that write the really long reviews, STOP! We are all super impressed you know how to read & write...sheesh!)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Learned a great deal but sometimes it was slow and difficult to follow the names to the story as it went along. Sad and deopressging most of the time as was this actual time in history. (dw)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had a hard time getting into this story at first, once I did the characters really grabbed me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
RBHolb More than 1 year ago
Thoughtful, well-written book.  The suspense unfolded at a good pace, unlike some books where it's put in your face on the first page.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
BookReflections More than 1 year ago
Ruth and Ernst Toller take turns telling the story of Dora, a political activist in the days before the start of WWII.  Ruth, her husband Hans, Dora, and Ernst have all escaped Germany and are living as refugees with the English.  There they plot to warn the world of Hitler's treatment of people and of his future plans.  Dora is Ruth's cousin and Ernst's love.  The story starts in the present and both Ruth and Ernst flashback to the tumultuous time when they fled Germany because of their political leanings and activity.  All That I Am is uncommon in that it doesn't focus on the plight of the Jews per se but rather focuses on the political climate and the hardships many faced once the regime slowly changed under Nazi control.  Well-written and poignant, many will love this well-researched read. All That I Am was not the read for me though it had so many powerful moments.  For me the switch between characters and time periods was just too confusing.  It created a disconnect to Ruth and Ernst's past selves.  I found myself most connected to present day Ruth and Ernst Toller despite the small amount of time spent during this period.  I'm glad that the point of view was displayed clearly at the start of each chapter.  But the transition to the past and back was often abrupt and disconcerting.  The two point of views were also jolting.   I also expected a little more romance and perhaps a lighter storyline within a tough historical period and topic.  There were few light moments and at times I felt that it read like nonfiction.  This wasn't the story I expected but I think I would get more out of this book by rereading it.  The details are thoughtful and meaningful.  I feel every sentence on the page had a point and was connected to another moment.  Unfortunately, I don't prefer to reread books.  Part III of the novel was riveting and I was completely captivated.  I wish Part I and Part II would have sped by a bit quicker.  For all the focus on Dora, I didn't connect with her much and didn't care as much about her as I should have.  Though, there were moments where my heart really went out to her. Ultimately, I think this is a great book for those who are looking for a well-researched , thoughtful perspective on the political turmoil during this time in history.  I recommend you slow down to this one in.  Many have said that they avoid WWII books because they can be sad and depressing.  This one is probably the saddest one I've read and I've read tons of WWII books.  Just a heads up there.  Though I have lukewarm feelings about this novel, the twist at the end makes me glad I read it.  I won't ever forget this one.
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candc320 More than 1 year ago
I reviewed this book for the blog Luxury Reading. All That I Am is the story of the leftist resistance in Germany and the influences and consequences of its compatriots beginning in the 1920s and reaching into the early 21st century. The story is told from the perspective of two German resisters, one a highly respected activist – Ernst Toller – and the other a smaller yet observant member – Ruth Becker. While they both mostly bypass each other in this complicated maze of activists there is one person they both cherish above all others: Dora Fabien, a freedom loving key member of the resistance. Toller’s story takes place in 1939 with him in exile in New York City, making corrections to his autobiography that he and Dora began before they were forced to flee Germany in 1933. Toller feels a desperate need to resurrect Dora, this great love of his life, and to tell her story so she is not forgotten to history as so many of the brave men and women working to bring the truth of Nazi Germany to the rest of the world have been. He feels he failed her during her life and must finally tell the whole truth as they saw it before the darkness that plagues him takes him under for good. As he goes back in time so do we. Ruth is in Sydney, Australia in 2001, finding that, in her old age, she is less able to control the memories that surface unbidden. When she receives the original corrected autobiography of Toller, which had been hidden away and only recently discovered with her name on it, her past comes screaming into focus and often seems more real than the reality surrounding her. She not only remembers living and working with her strong, enigmatic cousin Dora but remembers the highs and lows of doing what they felt was right at whatever costs it brought. We see the high times of prosperity and purpose before they left Germany in 1933, Ruth’s marriage to the dashing and charismatic journalist Hans Wesemann, the hardships of exile in London and the deep need to continue their work under the continual and increasing threats by the Reich. As the consequences of their work get deadlier, a devastating betrayal at the center of their group – one that Ruth is crushed that she didn’t see – brings the downfall and even death of many within the group. When Ruth escapes to live out her life without those that have supported and loved her, she highlights the life without roots of a continued exile. Her life goes on even as a part of her is always missing. While the writing is beautiful, there are portions of All That I Am that are slow going, especially the portion dealing with the exiled resistance workers in London in the 1930s. Without having a strong background in the various leftist political parties of the time it can be kind of confusing to keep the various differences and beliefs in line with the story being told. What I did enjoy was the character development of Toller, Ruth, Dora, Hans and a few secondary characters and the fact that most of them were actual people in history. For anyone who has a good understanding or love of German history and the political resistances that consumed the time period, this book is ideal. It is also worth a read for general lovers of history with a warning that the story does drag at times.