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Fatherland: A Novel Paperback – September 5, 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks (September 5, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812977211
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812977219
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (231 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #91,114 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

An eerie, detailed alternate history serves as the backdrop for this otherwise conventional crime thriller. The setting is Berlin, 1964, some 20 years after the Third Reich's victory in WW II. Germany and the U.S., the world's two superpowers, find themselves in a cold war resulting from a nuclear stalemate; but U.S. President Joseph P. Kennedy is soon to visit Berlin for an historic summit meeting with Hitler, clearing the way for detente. Meanwhile, cynical police detective Xavier March investigates the drowning of Josef Buhler, former state secretary in the General Government. When the Gestapo takes over the case--ruling it suicide--March continues his investigation at the risk of his life, uncovering a deadly conspiracy at the highest levels of the Reich. With the help of American reporter Charlotte Maguire, he finds hard evidence of the wartime extermination of Europe's Jews, a secret that Buhler and his colleagues have been murdered to protect. Of course March and Maguire fall in love along the way. Harris ( Selling Hitler ) generates little suspense in this tale beyond his piecemeal rendering of the novel's unusual historical setting. The characters are flat and the plot largely predictable. And readers may well question the taste of using the Holocaust as the point of departure for a rather insubstantial, derivative thriller. 75,000 first printing; BOMC selection.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

The year is 1964. The setting is Berlin. JFK's father, Joe Kennedy, is president. Edward VIII is king, Wallis his queen. Adolf Hitler is about to celebrate his 75th birthday. In this thriller with a twist, the stalemate which ended World War II has evolved into a cold war, not between the Soviet Union and the United States, but between the Third Reich and America. Police investigator Xavier March handles a case involving the death of a prominent Nazi, an apparent suicide. The trail leads to other suicides, accidental deaths, a numbered vault in Zurich, and a beautiful American reporter. March discovers the pattern behind the deaths and locates incriminating papers exposing the Holocaust, which, because Germany didn't lose the war, has been kept secret for 20 years. Harris, author of the nonfiction title Selling Hitler ( LJ 5/15/86), is clearly well versed in the operations and machinations of the Nazi regime. He uses this knowledge to create a realistic and frightening world in which we all could be living. Recommended. BOMC selection; previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 3/1/92.
- C. Christopher Pavek, National Economic Research Assocs. Lib., Washington, D.C.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Great story line with very believable characters set in historic times.
Dan T. L.
This novel by Robert Harris is a masterpiece on many different levels - historical fiction, mystery, detective story, political thriller, and alternate history.
doomsdayer520
As is, the book was a nice read and will keep you hanging and turning pages until the end.
Neil Montovani

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

88 of 90 people found the following review helpful By Alex Diaz-Granados on June 8, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Berlin, 1964.
20 years have passed since Germany's victory over the Allies in World War II. Adolf Hitler has been in power for 31 years, his 75th birthday nears, and a summit meeting between the Fuhrer and President Kennedy has been announced.

This is the intriguing scenario presented by British journalist-novelist Robert Harris in his first novel, Fatherland.

Harris' novel, unlike Peter Tsouras' Disaster at D-Day: The Germans Defeat the Allies, June 1944, doesn't offer us a very detailed "alternative history" of the Second World War, which perhaps would have been the easy way out for a lesser writer. Instead, Harris smartly teases us with little glimpses at how Germany could have won the war while still losing its collective soul.

Fatherland's plot revolves around Xavier March, a former U-boat skipper who has joined the German police, which has been under SS control since the mid-1930s. On a rainy April morning, March has been called to investigate what seems to be a routine incident: a corpse has been found in the Havel River near the area where high Nazi party officials have their mansions.

Of course, if you have read political-police thrillers such as Gorky Park or Archangel, you know there will be nothing routine about this investigation. For this corpse's identity is none other than Doctor Josef Buhler, one of the earliest Nazi party members and former state secretary in the General Government, the part of Poland directly annexed by the Third Reich during the war. Before long, March (who is not a Nazi party member, just a dogged investigator) will follow Buhler's seemingly routine death down a dark and winding path that will lead him to Germany's darkest and best kept secret of all.
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53 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Adam Dukovich on March 31, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I was immediately intrigued with the premise behind Robert Harris' novel Fatherland. What would have happened if Hitler's Germany had won World War II? The reader is taken to Berlin, 1964, which has become a sort of Shangra-la for Europe. U.S. President Kennedy has agreed to come to Berlin for a peace summit, and the capital is swarming with tourists and citizens ready to observe the 75th birthday of Hitler. During all this, though, the body of a high-ranking Nazi is washed up on a shore. Detective Xavier March, a former U-boat captain and SS Sturmbannfuhrer, is dispatched to investigate. His investigation uncovers an old conspiracy among high-ranking Nazis. March, who is not the cold, unhuman Nazi that is common in his country, teams up with an American Journalist, Charlotte Maguire, to find proof and escape alive.
There were many good things about this book. Its setting is very realistic and depressing, its characters range from the intrepid March to the evil Globus, a former Concentration Camp commander who is determined to end March's investigation, to Maguire, the journalist who wants the truth. Although I enjoyed the book very much, I would have liked more details on the resolution of the war, but this book will both frighten and delight. I loved this book and think that you will love it too.
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 13, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Having just returned from Northern and Eastern Europe where I spent time in Berlin and Poland (the setting for "Fatherland"), I was pleased to find this book at a friend's house the other day. And so I plopped down on a lawn chair and read the whole thing, straight through, yesterday afternoon. I fully admit that I am a sucker for techno/action/spy/anything-WWII novels and this was no exception. Harris is a fine enough writer who has come up with a interesting plot that reminds me of some novels I've read involving alternate US civil war outcomes. Of course you have to stretch your imagination a bit, but isn't that the point? I'm sure that those who love the bulk of mass-market novels out today realize that much of what they read is less-than literary genius, but fun nonetheless. Harris' hero, Xavier March, is likeable, yet not loveable and the other characters fill their necessary plot roles as well as any supporting figures in such books. His descrip! ! tion of a 1964, Nazi-ruled, capital of Europe, Berlin is right on (at least as Albert Speer would have had it) and his concentration camp lessons (i.e. detailed descriptions of how Hitler and his cronies came up with and planned the "final solution") are chilling. Throw these elements together with a murder mystery and you've got a most enjoyable book.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Godly Gadfly on November 26, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Brilliant. No, not the plot, which is certainly above average, but mostly typical of a good suspense thriller. What's brilliant about Robert Harris' "Fatherland" is the concept. The events of this suspense thriller are set in 1964, in post World War II Germany. Nothing unusual so far. Until you realize that Germany has won the war, Europe is dominated by the victorious German reich, and that celebrations are underway for Hitler's 75th birthday. It is this alternate history that makes "Fatherland" a thriller that stands out from the average.
Is it plausible? Harris is well-qualified to write such an alternate history, having written a well-researched non-fiction book on Hitler. In fact the events of "Fatherland" are mostly rooted in history, as Harris notes at the end of the book that many of the characters whose names are used in this novel actually existed, and many of the documents quoted in the text are authentic. The novel centers around the historic Wannsee Conference of 1942, where Hitler's top men met to decide on a permanent solution to the Jewish question: extermination in the horrific gas chambers in places like Auschwitz.
The plot itself is credible and fast moving, although those who are offended by vulgar language, blasphemy and immorality will find these occurring rather too frequently. Xavier March is a criminal investigator who is determined to get to the bottom of the mystery around the body of an old man found floating in a lake outside Berlin. His investigation leads him to discover a series of deaths of high ranking officials. Together with Charlotte Maguire, an American journalist, he uncovers the chilling truth and the heart of the dark conspiracy behind these deaths.
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