[Reading] ➻ The Good German Author Joseph Kanon – Peakpopa.info
Kanon s The Good German starts slowly, designed to immerse the reader in the atmosphere of the Berlin of the early post war months It is July 1945, the time of the Potsdam Conference Kanon s ability to take you virtually by the hand and to lead you through the place is exemplary ruins, bombed out houses, roads blocked by rubble, empty spaces where, before, Berliners had lived and where the protagonist himself had lived as a journalist Jake Geismar, supposedly reporting on the Conference, is really in Berlin fulfilling a promise, a quest Kanon s portrayal of Berlin is accurate based on visits to the modern Berlin and his in depth research of the Berlin at the end of WWII and the changes since then You could easily use it as a tour guide of a different kind.But of course, Berlin of 1945 is not the story The story of the returning US journalist and his German girlfriend leads the reader like a red thread through the book Her family is mixed in with the plot The description of day to day life in difficult times gives the story reality and perspective People do a lot just for a package of cigarettes.Jake s search for his love of the happier pre war days through the ruins, the alleyways, is becoming increasingly desperate Is she still alive Where would she be Finding an individual in those early post war months in Germany was almost impossible no records were available, the houses where they had lived often destroyed and no forwarding address unless you were really lucky.Things turn out to be a lot complex as you go deaths and threats, intrigue and false allies And the tension grows It is a thriller after all a thriller with political messages as well as interesting character developments In addition to Jake, the protagonist, and Lena, his girlfriend, we meet intriguing characters, in particular among the Germans While the Russians dismantled factories, taking home whatever technology they could find, a special team from the US s occupying forces were rounding up the scientists and experts who designed the technology in the first place The Russians realized the problem and tried to get in on the act Would it work So, who is the Good German The events around the Potsdam Conference provide a useful backdrop It fits the story well to observe the increasing tension between US and Soviet soldiers who easily turn to an exchange of gunfire to mask sinister intentions.Kanon s book is in a category of its own More than a thriller and than a romantic story, it is a skillfully put together account of a complex situation in a difficult moment of time It is successful as a good read and as a chronicle of events that gives the reader food for thought and reflection.this is a revised version of a ten year old review. The Good German is a thrilling historical mystery, with a gripping underlying psychological exploration Kanon presents the struggle for German rocket scientists, Americans versus Russians, with both sides desperate to enhance their own post war technology and neither concerned about the Nazi past and practices of the men they are seeking It is hard to find the moral high ground.The main characters are well presented and well developed over the course of the novel Secondary characters are plentiful and each adds a sharp emphasis to the story The post war devastation of Berlin is portrayed with frightening clarity The plot is complicated and difficult to keep fully in mind, as the reader shares the frustration of American reporter Jake Geismar in sorting through it, but that is exactly the real life confusion Kanon wants to show.I will be dealing with some of the same issues what did Germans know and why did they do what they did in my new novel tentatively titled CHOOSING HITLER Kanon has set a high bar. Took a while to get into but thoroughly enjoyed the descriptions of post war Berlin Quite a few subplots running throughout the novel and they were not all completely addressed to my mind However I did feel that the moral dilemma of the time was well addressed An interesting novel, thought provoking and well worth the read. Set in Berlin at the time of the Potsdam Conference, just after the Allied victory in Europe, Jake Geismar, an American journalist, is searching for his German girlfriend, Lena, along with a story for his magazine While there, a murder is committed, and Jake gets involved At first, the murder and the search for Lena do not seem connected, but with the help of German detective, the relationship becomes clear He also wants to find out what happened to Lena s husband, Emil, a scientist working with Wernher von Braun Jake uncovers the corruption of the black market and a covert struggle between the Americans and the Soviets to lure German scientists for assistance in arms development in advance of the Cold War.The author combines elements of mystery, romance, and history into a compelling story with well developed characters It explores ethical questions of whether involvement with the Nazis will result in punishment or exoneration Should scientists get a free pass because they continue to be useful The main plot and sub plots are woven together expertly The novel conveys a strong sense of place I could picture the bombed out rubble of Berlin As in many mysteries, some of the key pieces of information are delivered through plot devices I had not previously joined the audiobook trend, but when I found myself facing a long drive, I decided to try it I came across this one at my local library The audiobook reader, Stanley Tucci, does an excellent job of modulating his voice and creating realistic differentiated accents to render the various German, American, and Russian characters of both sexes It kept us entertained while driving for over seven hours Recommended to fans of historical fiction or mysteries, especially of the period surrounding WWII Contains language, sex, and violence. Falls a good editor short of Worth my time status Involved and overlong mystery set in immediately post war Berlin in 1945 has too many intricate subplots and subsequent false ending resolutions to sustain edge of seat emotional levels all the way through, and the great emotional impact of the first few scenes setting up the philsophical discussion of the good German is dulled by too many repetitions Still, the characters are enjoyable, the dialogue is good, and the plotting strong enough to pass the mystery test of reaching a point where the reader has to finish the book without stopping no matter how late at night You ll just wish that point and the end had come about 75 pages sooner Its easy to see why this book is the basis for a soon to be released Hollywood treatment with George Clooney in the lead role. The days surrounding the fall of the Third Reich have never failed to generate an interest among historians and romantics alike So was the case with me when I picked this book up during a random search in a forgettable old book sale Sold to me at a half price or probably lesser than that, I kept this book in my shelf for almost a year before someone read it and got so impressed that they recurrently begged me to consider reading it So, now I m done with it and I m impressed so much that I m almost tempted to take the hand of the person who got me reading it Imagine Humphrey Bogart and Clark Gable rolled into one and we have the protagonist of the novel, Jake Geismar, a war journalist who returns to a new Germany occupied by allied troops in search of his love, Lena Looking for a story in the ruined city of Berlin, he finds the body of an American soldier washed up on the shores of a river Getting interested in knowing the motive and the culprit, Geismar travels all over the map of Berlin asking questions and making friends and enemies Craftily woven into this central plot is the love triangle between Jake, Lena and her still surviving husband Emil, who was a scientist in the Third Reich Kanon proves himself to be a deft mover of situations as the characters move from one story to another smoothly with all corners of the story perfectly in balance all the time The Good German also carries the undertones of the vulnerability of that period It carefully and I believe accurately depicts the emotions and feelings of the german people during those moments when the world saw them with heart full of nothing but hatred Particularly then when their homes were devastated by the forces and their children were terrorized and homeless.Probably a cost paid for a crime they didn t commit or were unaccountable for Hence, it raises the question of A Good German which probably prompted Kanon to place that as the title to the book Four stars to the book for being a thriller, romance and history all rolled into one I implore the reader of my review to give this book a chance Kanon can definitely do a plus one in his fan list. I have had this on my to read list for a long time, and I m so glad I finally got around to it.The Good German is a subtle mystery that will keep you guessing until the end, but what really makes it work is its uncanny ear for the dialogue of the WWII generation and the ways they have of relating to each other, and the complex, nuanced moral entanglements the book lays out.Jake Geismar is an American journalist who has come back to the ravaged ruins of Berlin at the end of World War II He soon has two goals one personal, one professional The personal goal is to see if his lover from before the war, Lena Brandt, the wife of a brilliant mathematician, is still alive The professional one is to figure out who killed a soldier who was on the same incoming flight as Geismar, and whose body washes up on the shore of a lake in Potsdam during the Churchill Stalin Truman peace conference, his uniform stuffed with Russian money.Jake is supposed to be in Berlin to write features for a magazine, but that takes up only a small part of his time He finds Lena, who has been through her own hell to survive, and nurses her back to health with the help of a Jewish doctor She thinks her husband is dead, but it soon is apparent he is not only alive but is one of the many rocket scientists the Americans want to take back with them and keep away from the Russians, no matter how entangled the German scientists were with the Nazis.As for the dead soldier, Geismar starts working with the theory that he was the victim of some black market scheme gone awry, but he then learns that the soldier is somehow connected to his lover s husband, and that both the American and Russian intelligence operatives want to find him.Before it s all over with, a close friend of Geismar s will be killed, he will work with a tough American soldier who may be betraying him, a former German police officer whose fine mind shines through his alcoholism, and he will have to make a critical decision about the fate of Lena s husband Mixed into this already tense and complicated story is the discovery that another of his former employees is on trial for turning over fellow Jews to the Nazis, and Jake ends up taking responsibility for the real reason she did that in the first place.There are times when the clipped dialogue gets almost too cryptic, but along the way, Kanon reveals just how morally compromised everyone in the war was, no matter how much some of them wanted to paint a simple picture of good guys vs bad guys.This is a tremendously paced novel that is a worthy member of the club that includes Alan Furst, David Downing, John Le Carre, and other masters of morally ambiguous sagas. 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 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 If Tom Clancy and Casablanca had a love child, it d be this book, and it s a great read More action and faced paced suspense than Casablanca, emotional depth than Clancy But at the same time, it has both their drawbacks as well too many characters with interchangeable Russian and German names, and it depends on the reader having a healthy knowledge of the history of WWII in order to understand the story Still, I enjoyed the mystery and intrigue in the story, and Kanon s portrayal of postwar Berlin was nuanced and moving. Not my favorite It s very plot heavy, and I m a character development lover I love the descriptions of Berlin and I wish I d had a map to trace where he was at every move That said, he knew far too much of Berlin far too well The city is much bigger than Kanon makes it out to be I do like the way in which he tackles guilt, remorse, and Vergangenheitsbewaltigung.