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The Silent Angel Paperback – May 28, 2002


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Product Details

  • Series: Cassell Military Paperbacks
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Cassell (May 28, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0304359742
  • ISBN-13: 978-0304359745
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,264,880 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Boll's first novel, unpublished until after his death, tells a story of decay and redemption in post World War II Germany.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

The late Nobel Prize winner's first novel, now published for the first time, is a significant example of German Heimkehrer literature, which describes the return of soldiers and prisoners of war to their homes after World War II and their problematic reintegration into a society facing the choice of repeating the mistakes of a discredited past or constructing a new, more just society. Particularly moving in its descriptions of the simple struggle for existence in a devastated German city in 1945, the novel explores a surprisingly full range of the mature writer's major themes. The plot centers around Hans, who, seeking a morally defensible life of love and commitment, is seemingly destined to live on the periphery of an economically recovering society. He is contrasted with Fischer, a wealthy and morally empty art connoisseur, who acquires increasing riches and influence with the aid of the hierarchy of the Catholic church. A fine beginning from a great writer; recommended for most collections.
--Michael T. O'Pecko, Towson State Univ., Md.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Hugh Claffey on May 5, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The overwhelming feeling you get when reading this book is the desperate struggle for short term survival. The background is a German city (possibly Cologne) in the first
Days and weeks after the capitulation of the German army in 1945. Every conversation is focused on bread - not even full meals, just slices of bread. The city is bleak and devastated, the characters are transient figures struggling, dazed and nauseous, into whatever the future may hold. Their pasts are briefly mentioned, but the conditions in which they find themselves allow for almost total dislocation from their past lives.
The language of the book is austere, the characters are not clearly distinguishable, the colours mentioned - apart from grey destruction - are greenish and yellowish hazes. These tune in with the bilious, nausea of the characters as they continuously search for food and shelter. Throughout the story each character is portrayed as exhausted, struggling, nauseous.
The novels main character has deserted the German Army in the final days of the war, and under a certain sentence of death for desertion, has assumed numerous identities as he flees. He has, however, promised a dead comrade that he will return a coat to his comrade's widow. A will is discovered in the lining of the coat and this yields an subplot of intrigue and corruption. The main character meanwhile meets and briefly lives with a dazed, tragic woman who has been psychologically damaged by the war.
The novel's main impression is the exhaustion of emotion, the breakdown of society brings about a breakdown of morality and order. Stealing and dishonesty of all kinds are part of daily life, as are small gestures of generosity.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A. Hogan VINE VOICE on March 12, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Heinrich Boll occupies for me the same place Dostoyevski does for many people: a deeply,morally complex writer who tells stories of profound depth involving average people thrown into situations not of their making. In the SILENT ANGEL, Bolls first novel{suppressed in germany for over 40 years},he tells of the immediate aftermath of WWII{the war ends in the first few pages, to his disbelief} on average germans, including the main character, a soldier struggling with fear and hunger to stay alive. In one of the early scens, the protagonist finds a nun in a hospital making soup, who gives him a piece of bread. The ecstasy the bread gives him{also symbolic of Bolls then Catholcism} can only been written by someone who actually expierenced hunger{I think much of this is autobiographical} Later the main character rediscovers love,amidst the falling plaster,the cold the hunger. A kind priest gives him a bottle of wine,which leaves him stunned at first,thenhe brings back to share with his new life. The idea of love flowering among people in such straits is remarkable,as is the ability to make one empathise with average germans, not an easy task after the horror of WWII> A Later scene with his new wife,where she describes a piece of pipe still standing after all the bombing{the unnamed city is Cologne}is marvelous, the touch of a master. That this is his first novel is almost astonishing,for it has true depth without much of the maudlin coming of age nonsense associated with first novels.If Heinrich Boll was not the most important novelist of the last 40 years, he was damn close. The opening act of a magnificent, important writer, thinker and moral witness.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Randy Keehn VINE VOICE on December 11, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I enjoy reading Heinrich Boll in part because he offers a perspective of WWII through the eyes of an every day German. Most German perspectives of WWII seem to be written by someone who wants you to know that they are one of the "good guys". In his books I have been given a glimpse of what it was like to be on the losing side. In "The Silent Angel" we get a glimpse of what it is like to return to a home that doesn't really exist any more. The vivid depictions in this novella are the works not only of one whose knows of what he speaks, but also of one gifted to tell the world. Boll is no apologist for Germany but he conveys the world as he experienced it. The destruction and the despair are overwhelming but there is hope in the relationship between the common sufferers. Many will read this book in a single sitting but the impressions will last long afterwards.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Eric Van Der Walde on September 12, 2005
Format: Paperback
I stumbled upon this book in a used book store and decided to give it a read. The prose is lean and economical and conveys rich sense of the of Germany immediately after WWII. I have never read anything quite like it. While it doesn't have a gripping storyline in the usual sense it was compelling and difficult to put down. I highly recommend this book and have been inspired to read more of Boll's better known works.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By GPC on July 20, 2007
Format: Paperback
This book, set in the horrible aftermath of World War II in Germany, depicts with superb clarity what life must have been like then. Many detailed descriptions of the burnt-out buildings, collapsing structures and rubble abound...but through it all circulates an engaging love story of sorts between a former soldier and the woman he befriends. A short novel that can be quickly read, it is not easily digested and is full of symbolism, especially of the religious sort. Once read, not easily forgotten...
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