Alone in Berlin

  • by Hans Fallada, Michael Hofmann (translator)
  • Narrated by John Telfer
  • 20 hrs and 13 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Berlin, 1940. The city is paralysed by fear. But one man refuses to be scared. Otto, an ordinary German living in a shabby apartment block, tries to stay out of trouble under Nazi rule. But when he discovers his only son has been killed fighting at the front he's shocked into an extraordinary act of resistance and starts to drop anonymous postcards attacking Hitler across the city. If caught, he will be executed.
Soon this silent campaign comes to the attention of ambitious Gestapo inspector Escherich, and a murderous game of cat-and-mouse begins. Whoever loses, pays with their life.
Every Man Dies Alone was published in the UK as Alone in Berlin.
English edition copyright 2009 Melville House Publishing; Translation copyright 2009 Michael Hofmann.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

A Perfect Novel

What does the lucky reader get?
1. Authenticity. The novel is set in Berlin in the years 1940-1946, Fallada stayed in Berlin throughout the war and wrote the book in 1946. Fallada had first hand experience both of being denounced to the Gestapo and collaborating with the Nazi party. I love that immediate, first hand, recent feel. It is almost what I read novels for.
2. Lessons in Politics. Explains how a tyrannical system works. How fascism can capture a civilized, educated, modern state. It works by giving power to the wrong people - not on merit but to the party faithful. This creates a hell on earth, but also sows the seeds of its own destruction. In the end, power in the hands of imbeciles and sadists is inefficient.
3. Characters. There are goodies, all with credible flaws and limitations; there are baddies with all their faults, self-justifications and weaknesses, penned with the same level of detail and empathy. I have rarely read a novel where the low-lifers are depicted with such subtlety and intimacy.
4. Plot. Exciting, action packed, satisfying.
5. Good taste. Gestapo interrogation is a pretty grim subject, Fallada writes so delicately that you understand what is happening without it becoming overwhelmingly distressing.
6. A happy ending. Er, no. There is a final battle between good and evil (represented by a blond son waving a horse whip at his evil, corrupt father on a rural, spring morning in 1946) where the son prevails. It is the merest glimmer of hope. Fortunately, we can visit Berlin today and see that hope realized. I’m sorry Fallada never lived to see it – he died within weeks of finishing this book.

This book reminded me repeatedly of 1984 – written at about the same time with a similar political message. I cannot understand how this book was only translated into English in 2009. It should have been hugely famous for years. IMHO it is a truly wonderful book.

Narration: excellent.
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- judith

A mesmerising, life-changing book. Buy it.

First published in 1947 as Jeder stirbt für sich allein (Every Man Dies Alone) and translated beautifully by the poet Michael Hoffman in 2009, this book is a disturbing, visceral, accurate and beautifully realised portrait of a society consuming itself from within seen from the perspective of ordinary people caught up in the nightmare of the Nazi machine. What makes it all the more poignant is that the story is based on a real case from wartime Berlin.

The author, Hans Fallada (or Rudolf Ditzen to give him his real name) is said to have written the book in just 24 days in post war East Berlin, having been handed a Gestapo file detailing the central case by a friend who became a government minister. Sadly the author died from a morphine overdose shortly before the book was published.

The narration is the best I have ever encountered and perfectly captures each character from the lowest, snivelling crook, to the screaming viciousness of the Nazi functionaries. John Telfer is to be applauded for his performance.

The subject matter is dark and deeply thought-provoking but please, please do not let that put you off. Running through this work is the redemptive and triumphant power of the human spirit against almost unimaginable horror.

This is a work of genius, translated perfectly and read sublimely.
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- James

Book Details

  • Release Date: 30-09-2010
  • Publisher: Hachette Audio UK