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My Father's Country: Story of a German Family Hardcover – Deckle Edge, May 6, 2008


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This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; First Edition (states first american) edition (May 6, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307262812
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307262813
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 5.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #767,489 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Bruhns, born in Germany in 1938, has worked as a television journalist and a U.S.-based correspondent for Stern magazine. In 1944, her father, Captain Hans Georg Klamroth, was executed for his part in the conspiracy to assassinate Hitler in July of that year. For decades, Bruhns seems to have tried to maintain an emotional distance from the father she barely remembered. When she caught a glimpse of her haggard father while watching a documentary on the trial of the conspirators, she determined to learn more about him and her family. The result is a searing, painful inquiry that reveals much about her family through the length of the twentieth century; it also confronts readers with the dilemma of trying to survive in a totalitarian society without becoming part of the monstrous evils. Both of her parents were enthusiastic backers of Hitler for years. Bruhns seems particularly disturbed to discover how shamed other family members were by her father’s act of betrayal. Her efforts to discover the causes of his conversion are both riveting and heartbreaking. --Jay Freeman

Review

“A literary feat of extraordinary courage. . . . An intimate glimpse into the heart of darkness. . . . Illuminating.”
The Washington Times

“A clear-eyed portrait of a flawed man living in complex-and nightmarish-times.”
Newsday

“In a time of bogus memoirs that, when exposed to air, crumble before Oprah's baleful glare, My Father's Country is the genuine article.”
Chicago Sun-Times

“Fascinating. . . . For anyone interested in the German psyche between the wars . . . [this] should be compelling reading.”
Providence Journal

“A searing, painful inquiry.... Riveting and heartbreaking.”
Booklist


From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

It must have taken great courage to reveal all she learned.
Cynthia Graae
The book reminds us that history is really nothing other than the story of families moving through time.
Ronald H. Clark
This climactic event is covered in little detail only at the very end of this book.
Daniel J. Cragg

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By David Ljunggren on July 26, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The author does a tremendous job of showing how her father, Major Hans Georg Klamroth, became involved in the July 1944 plot against Adolf Hitler and how he paid for this with his life. But what she does with even more skill is show how a relatively normal German family became such lovers of the Fuehrer in so short a time. When Hitler becomes Chancellor the mood inside the Klamroth household is one of scorn but within a few years they are standing around the piano singing Hitler songs and the father sits by and does nothing when a valued Jewish employee is sacked because the law requires it. The author is angry at times (especially when discussing her father's philandering), highly emotional at others, and yet never overreaches herself. The last few pages are painful to read -- she does nothing to spare the horror of her father's agonising death -- yet when she addresses him personally at the very end, the effect is incredibly uplifting.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Dunskus on April 3, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This review is based on the German edition, "Meines Vaters Land".

One must admire the author for her courage in not only retracing faithfully her family's history, but also in uncovering in the family papers the personality of a father (HG) quite unknown to her; in the process she discovered more than one skeleton in her parents' household. In a way, her work can be compared to Bernhard Schlink's search for fathers of all kinds which he describes in his recent book "Homecoming".

Besides painting for us an uncompromising and not always positive portrait of her father, she places this painting next to her mother's, Else, the other protagonist in this German family saga set into the first half of the 20th century. Else was of Danish descent, thus, HG became very well acquainted with Denmark and was posted there at the end of the 1930s. Else is driven to the edge of a complete breakdown by the political circumstances, by the unfolding war and by the personal difficulties reflecting within the family what is going on outside.

She stays on course by the sheer will of protecting her flock and by the general inertia that somehow keeps us all moving; in this way, she reaches a safe haven once the war has come to an end, much in the spirit of Rudyard Kipling who urges us to "hold on when there is nothing in you except the will". Once her task had been accomplished, she could only go on living as the petrified image of her former self, in a way similar to the fate of the German people as a whole who needed the remainder of the 20th century to come to grips with the events of the first half.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Cynthia Graae on June 10, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My Father's Country: The Story of A German Family centers in large
part on Wibke Bruhn's father, Hans Klamroth, one of the officers tried
and executed for participating in the 1944 plot to kill Hitler.
Fortunately for the cause of history, the author's family, from the
well-to-do merchant class, was obsessed with recording everyday
activities, political events, and personal reactions in diaries
and in a voluminous correspondence. The book draws upon these documents,
which survived the war, as well as on her own impressive command of
German and world history, to tell her family's story in the larger
context of Nazi Germany and of the forces, beginning in the 19th
century, that ultimately lead to Hitler's rise in power and his early
popularity with so many German people.

The author doesn't try to glorify her father or her sister's husband,
who also participated in the plot to kill Hitler. She freely admits not
knowing whether her father felt Hitler had to be stopped because he
was a monster or because he was losing the war. Also to her credit,
is that although she abhors many of her family's actions, she doesn't
deny the love that she had and still has for them. Her goal is
present the facts and she does so unflinchingly. It must have taken
great courage to reveal all she learned.

My Father's Country resonates in many levels. The author writes
poetically about the phenomenon of memory, how the dead can remain
unchanging in our minds, but how it is possible to give them new life
by uncovering what we didn't know about them in their lifetimes. She
paints a fascinating picture of her family's very chic and
international lifestyle before World War II.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Janlynn on July 4, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Wibke Bruhns' story is an absorbing one, and kept my attention throughout. However, I did get a little bogged down with some of the details of her family life; there just seemed to be too many. The facts about an episode of WWII that most of us know little about were very insightful. A must read for WWII buffs and any one interested in untold stories of history.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ronald H. Clark VINE VOICE on September 29, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I have found longitudinal studies of German families to afford very valuable insights into how the Nazis rose to power and implemented their rule. This is a very good one. It is particularly interesting because the author's father, Hans George Klamroth (1898-1944), was one of those "tried" and executed in connection with the July 1944 plot to kill Hitler. His alleged crime was knowledge of the conspiracy and failing to report it. The author, who was born in 1938 and was five or so when her father was executed, traces her family's development from 1866 down until the end of World War II. Situated in Halberstadt, in Prussia, about 100 miles from Berlin, the family business of grains and fertilizers grew and profited, making the family very well-to-do if not quite in the Junker class. There was a strong history of military involvement in various wars, and the author particularly is adept at tracing the careers of her grandfather and father in the first war. This family was loyal to the Kaiser and to Germany to the core. She traces from the perspective of her family the traumas and hardships that afficted Germany after the first war, including food shortages, a destroyed economy, and political unrest. If this is how rich people suffered, you can imagine how the less fortunate were affected.

The book really becomes interesting when the author discusses the interwar period of the Weimar government and the terrible conditions imposed upon a defeated Germany during the 1920's and 1930's. It is easy to see how these adverse conditions advanced Hitler's chances to grab power.
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