Curzio Malaparte spent most of World War II as an Italian consul to other fascist states: Germany, Romania, Finland. His novelistic account of the war, surreptitiously written, presents the conflict from the point of view of those doomed to lose it. Malaparte's account is marked by sharp, lyrical observations, as when he encounters a detachment of German soldiers fleeing a Ukrainian battlefield: "When Germans become afraid, when that mysterious German fear begins to creep into their bones, they always arouse a special horror and pity. Their appearance is miserable, their cruelty sad, their courage silent and hopeless." Bleak and hopeless indeed, Malaparte's is a remarkable testimonial.
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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