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Kaputt (New York Review Books Classics) Paperback – June 30, 2005
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Partly true and partly fiction, Kaputt is based on Malparte's experiences as a journalist following the Fascist armies invading the Soviet Union...Malaparte’s grotesquely baroque stories do not need to be true. They speak honestly about the absurd horrors of war.
–The Times [UK]
Frank, glamorous and gruesome, Kaputt delivers a unique insider’s verdict on the damned elite of a damnable system.
–The Independent [UK]
…a transcendent work about the admixture of high culture, bestial depravity and human sadism. Part autobiography and part fiction, it captures seemingly unfathomable history. No work has ever revealed more about the murderous blend of zeal and indifference that is fanaticism. Simultaneously mythic and wholly human, Kaputt haunts the reader forever.
— Wall Street Journal
A scrupulous reporter? Probably not. One of the most remarkable writers of the 20th century? Certainly.
— Ian Buruma
Kaputt is a sad, astonishing, horrifying and lyrical book. It shows us the results of ideological fanaticism, racism, twisted values masquerading as spiritual purity, and the hatred of life, in their most personal and shameful aspects. It is essential for any human understanding of World War II.
— Margaret Atwood
An amazing and engrossing book…quite brilliantly done, crammed with incredible and terrifying stories.
— Orville Prescott, The New York Times
[Kaputt] is like a report from the interior of Chernobyl. Malaparte had gotten very close to the radioactive core of the Axis Powers and somehow emerged to tell the tale, simultaneously humanizing things and rendering them even more chilling as a result…. Required reading for every citizen of the Twentieth Century.
— Walter Murch
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Top Customer Reviews
In a rather unemotional style (for most of the book) he describes the everyday horrors of war: sleeping in a house with a horse carcass rotting next to it, the upper ten of a city playing bridge while at the same time the Jews of their city are massacred. But also the dinner conversations at Governor Franck's place, in which the arrogance, absence of (self)reflection and total lack of humor of the other attendants are both stunning and revealing. And the 'beau monde' of Italy which is more concerned with the latest developments in the love life of Mussolini's son-in-law than with the fact that Italy is very obviously losing the war.
But Malaparte also describes the everyday miseries of war: a father who hides some small presents in his backyard so that his kids think in the morning that the English fighter planes were there to drop of presents rather than bomb the city to pieces. To me this was the most touching story in the book.
A well-written book with as a minor criticism that the story does not relly lead anywhere, but this is probably normal for an autobiography: real life very seldom leads to something.
I first read "Kaputt" when I was about 12 years old and accepted it as journalism. Later, I was surprised to find it described as a novel. Whatever it is, it's a masterpiece.
Italian journalist Malaparte, who converted from fascism to a kind of quasi-socialism (despite what some might think, he was never a communist and eventually became a devout Catholic), served time in an Italian prison for his dangerously critical writing about Mussolini. He was freed through the intervention of the italian foreign minister, Count Ciano, who was Mussolini's son-in-law and who was himself later shot by Mussolini for treason.
Sounds interesting already, eh? Malaparte gives us supposedly first-hand accounts, while working as a war correspondent in the uniform of an Italian captain, of his experiences in the drawing rooms of fascist officials; at the Leningrad front and the Warsaw Ghetto; and at the sites of massacres of Jews, gypsies, and intellectuals.
He writes in two complementary styles. His ironic, laid-back style accentuates the horror of the nazis' matter-of-fact attitude about the atrocities they committed. His lyrical style paints word-pictures of his impressions of the sights and sounds of the towns and fields of old Europe.
The result is an almost exhaustingly epic depiction of the destruction of European culture from the unique perspective of one who mingled with many of those responsible. Be patient with the book when you start it. It grows on you.
But-caveat lector-this environment is so loathsome, bestial and vile-as wars tend to be-that one is in danger in becoming, by absorbing one's self in this book, in losing any hope in or affection for humanity. From horseheads rising from the surface from the frozen over Lake Laguda (perhaps the most lasting image, because so beautiful and horrific at once), to the officer who keeps a jar of human eyeballs of the partisans he is fighting on his desk to, well, any number of ghastly scenes, it is impossible for the reader to come away from Malaparte's take on the war, unaffected (excepting, of course, "readers" who dismiss the book out of hand and leave it deliberately on the airplane as one reviewer admits to doing).-But, perhaps, this reviewer's reaction is understandable. None of us relish looking on the dark, bestial side of men and women who might well be ourselves, given different circumstances of time and place.
But what significantly marks this book apart from all other war writings is the unwillingness to overtly take sides.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Brilliant satire on war and so-called winners. Specifically focused on the absurdity and monstrosity of Nazi conquerors in WW II, their smugness and hypocrisy. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Gerard43
Kaputt is a Great book, finally i was ale to find it and read it.Thanks to the publisher and to Amazon!Published 4 months ago by Peter Kovalszki
The Italian war reporter Malaparte won friends and enemies during his lifetime. From all accounts he was a difficult rogue. Read morePublished 7 months ago by AD
At page 337, I quit; unrewarded by an brief, occasional flash of honest writing. Having had seen this book mentioned with Cela, Celine, Baroja, I had expectations of this book... Read morePublished 9 months ago by t.jamesus
Had to read this for a book report. I really enjoyed reading it.Published 12 months ago by Amazon Customer
Not as good as hoped. Mostly covers meetings of people well away from where the fighting was and only on a few occasions does the book cover what happened.Published 16 months ago by Peter