The Good German

The Good German

by Joseph Kanon
3.8 34

Hardcover(REV)

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Overview

The Good German by Joseph Kanon

With World War II finally ending, Jake Geismar, former Berlin correspondent for CBS, has wangled one of the coveted press slots for the Potsdam Conference. His assignment: a series of articles on the Allied occupation. His personal agenda: to find Lena, the German mistress he left behind at the outbreak of the war.

When Jake stumbles on a murder -- an American soldier washes up on the conference grounds -- he thinks he has found the key that will unlock his Berlin story. What Jake finds instead is a larger story of corruption and intrigue reaching deep into the heart of the occupation. Berlin in July 1945 is like nowhere else -- a tragedy, and a feverish party after the end of the world.

As Jake searches the ruins for Lena, he discovers that years of war have led to unimaginable displacement and degradation. As he hunts for the soldier's killer, he learns that Berlin has become a city of secrets, a lunar landscape that seethes with social and political tension. When the two searches become entangled, Jake comes to understand that the American Military Government is already fighting a new enemy in the east, busily identifying the "good Germans" who can help win the next war. And hanging over everything is the larger crime, a crime so huge that it seems -- the worst irony -- beyond punishment.

At once a murder mystery, a moving love story, and a riveting portrait of a unique time and place, The Good German is a historical thriller of the first rank.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780805064223
Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 10/01/1901
Edition description: REV
Pages: 512
Product dimensions: 6.32(w) x 9.64(h) x 1.53(d)

About the Author

Joseph Kanon is the author of two previous novels, Los Alamos and The Prodigal Spy. Before becoming a full-time writer, he was a book publishing executive. He lives in New York City.

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The Good German 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 34 reviews.
PatrickZJD More than 1 year ago
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.
harstan More than 1 year ago
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!
Khuearrah More than 1 year ago
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.
Brad1236 More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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'
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Colleen-Rae More than 1 year ago
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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