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Europe Central Paperback – November 14, 2005
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Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Bookmarks Magazine
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
For the rest of us, "Europe Central" is a much-needed antidote to the American exceptionalist, "Good War" nostalgia that informs so many American accounts of the 20th century. The corollary of this perspective is to simultaneously anthropomorphize "Europe" and dehumanize "Europeans" in an attempt to contrast them unfavorably to "America" and "Americans". Indeed, this is precisely the discourse that we currently hear so frequently from various corners of our much-benighted country.
In this respect, "Europe Central" succeeds in many of the same ways that the recent film "Downfall" succeeds: i.e., by humanizing the protoganists of some of the world's most catastrophic events and forcing the reader / viewer to ask the question, "In similar circumstances would I have felt or acted any differently?Read more ›
The blurbs summarize the plots, but a few overall reactions may let you know if this book may be worth the considerable effort and investment of time. I was pleased to see that in the sources appended to the text, Guy Sajer's outstanding memoir (which I've also reviewed for Amazon) The Forgotten Soldier is cited first of all. This account (which has been asserted by some to take liberties with fact) of an Alsatian fighting for the Germans on the Ostfront came often to mind as I read Vollmann. The author's scope and research simply is not the type we expect to find so evidently scaffolding even "historical fiction," and this involved me more in the result even as it distanced me from the conceit that I was listening to fully-realized narrators rather than, as Vollmann gives away in one footnote, a "fabulist."
The musical themes I found appropriate, but lacking knowledge of Shostakovich's ouevre, the exacting attention given to them left me floundering for long stretches of an already nearly endless work. (My wife was reading Anna Karenina simultaneously, and we kept pace with each other!) Unlike the earlier Russian writers, Vollmann's epic does not unfold so easily.Read more ›
As a work of history and biography, Vollmann's erudition is impressive. This is evident not merely from the text of the book but from the extensive bibliography, which while interesting is unnecessary for a novel unless, as I suspect is the case, Vollmann puts this forward to demonstrate the moral and historiographic case for his book.
The novel consists of the dramatisation of the roles of many of the key players in the great ideological struggles of the 1940s, both between Russia and Germany, but also within those countries. In portraying these historical figures as fictional characters - Shostakovich, General Vlasov, Field Marshall Paulus, Kurt Gerstein, Anna Akhmatova and others - Vollmann privileges us with an insight into the dilemmas and ambiguities that characterised their existence under totalitarian regimes in which personal resistance - however seemingly passive - could be fatal.
Despite some of the comments from other reviewers, I found the novel a relatively "easy" read - that is, it was engrossing and fascinating. But at the same time it took a long time - several weeks - to read it, not merely because of its size, but because it so often required me to put the book down to reflect on what I had been reading. Many of the scenes are harrowing and disturbing.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It joins V. Grossman's Life and Fate - two works that illuminate WWII in the same way that War and Peace did the War of 1812
You cannot read one without the other. Read more
Couldn't really get going with this book. My only experience so far with Vollman is my reading of The Dying Grass, which kept me going satisfied through its 1200+ pages. Read morePublished 6 months ago by J. Briggs
Vollmann’s language is rich and strawberry cream creamy, language that, without too much ado, could be transcribed into T.S. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Glenn Russell
It is very rare that I come across a book that grabs me emotionally as strongly as Europe Central did. Read morePublished 10 months ago by J. P Spencer
Not my kind of book. I don't care for historical fiction. I am afraid of later using historical facts that turn out to be fiction. If you are like me this book is a pass.Published 22 months ago by Amalie M.
It is not an easy reading and you have a hard time following if you are not familiar with the European history and the period. A masterful epic with a very original plot.Published on March 25, 2014 by GEORGE AWGERINOS
It is quite mysterious why several reviewers rush to a positive assessment of this novel. While the book's scale is certainly impressive, one cannot overlook the severe limitations... Read morePublished on September 29, 2013 by Jürgen Pelzer
I am glad I read this book. It taught me alot about people and history I did not know. At first I supplemented my reading with Wikipedia lookups; but as time went on, I found... Read morePublished on July 23, 2013 by Scott Snyder