Alone in Berlin

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Penguin Classics, 2009 - Anti-Nazi movement - 568 pages
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BERLIN, 1940, AND THE CITY IS FILLED WITH FEAR. In the house at 55 Jablonski Strasse, the various occupants are all trying to live under Nazi rule in their own different ways: the nervous Frau Rosenthal, the bulling Hitler-loyalists the Persickes, the retired judge Fromm, and the unassuming working-class couple Otto and Anna Quangel. Then the Quangles receive the devastating news that their beloved son has been killed fighting in France. Shocked out of his quiet existence, the usually taciturn factory foreman Otto is provoked into an action that will endanger both his and his wife's lives. With her help, he begins to drop hundreds of anonymous postcards attacking Hitler in buildings all over the city. If Otto and Anna are caught, they will be executed for treason. As the couple's silent campaign escalates, the cards come to the attention of the ambitious Gestapo inspector Escherich, and a deadly game of cat-and-mouse develops between them. When the petty criminals Kluge and Borkhausen also become involved, blackmail, deception, betrayal and murder ensure, gradually tightening the noose around the Quangels' necks . . . Hans Fallada's gripping and haunting novel was first published in German in 1947. It is both a dark, fast-paced wartime thriller and a chilling portrayal of a paranoid, brutal society, where the smallest action can have fatal consequences, and love has to survive against the cruellest of odds. Michael Hofmann's powerful new translation brings this extraordinary masterpiece to English readers for the very first time.

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About the author (2009)

Hans Fallada is a pseudonym of Rudolf Ditzen, who was born in Greifswald, Germany, in 1893. Many of Fallada's works, including the posthumously published The Drinker, were about his life, which was rife with addictions and instability. Another subject of his works was his homeland Germany. Earlier works, including international bestseller Little Man, What Now?, show a Germany that would allow itself to become a Nazi nation under Hitler. Later works deal with the aftermath and guilt of this decision. He died on February 5, 1947, in Berlin.

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