A Novel

Book - 2018
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"September 1938. Hitler is determined to invade Czechoslovakia. The British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, is desperate to avoid what would certainly be the war following such a move. The city of Munich, Germany, is to be the site of an eleventh-hour meeting between them--a last desperate effort to preserve an already precarious peace. Aboard the plane flying Chamberlain to the meeting is Hugh Legat, a rising star of the British diplomatic corps, serving at 10 Downing Street as a private secretary to the Prime Minister. Aboard the overnight train bringing Hitler to Munich is Paul von Hartmann, a staff member of the German Foreign Office. Legat and Hartmann were close friends at Oxford in the 1920s, but have not been in contact for six years. Each of them is carrying the weight of a painful, personal secret. Now, as their paths cross in Munich, they will become privy to a state secret--one that could profoundly affect the very future of Europe. And they will be confronted with a dreadful decision: What are they each willing to betray? Friends, family, country, or conscience? Once again, Robert Harris gives us actual events of historical importance--here are Hitler, Chamberlain, Mussolini, and Daladier at the precipice of a second world war--at the heart of an utterly electrifying novel. --Dust jacket.
Publisher: New York :, Knopf, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York,, 2018
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9780525520269
Characteristics: 303 pages : map ; 25 cm
Additional Contributors: Fowlie, Gemma - Illustrator


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Jan 14, 2019

Twenty years ago, I (and millions of others) read Robert Harris' alternate history, The Fatherland, in which Hitler wins the war. Decades later, when most of what I read at that time has slipped from my memory, that I still remember the novel. That means it really made an impact.

What did I expect from this book, then? Much more than I got.

On the back cover, Harris is called "The Master of the intelligent thriller." Fine--but note: this is NOT a thriller. It's actually...not much of anything, except, perhaps, a vehicle to provide us an inside look on what became--a few years later, and for evermore--THE infamous example of timid, frightened bow-and-scrape obsequious behaviour toward a nationalistic bully. In a word, "appeasement."

So, some of the scenes here, of rapturous, cheering crowds--both in England AND in Germany--lauding the man fated to be dismissed thereafter as a craven coward, are quite fascinating. But...are they, in fact, real? Yes, Harris has done his due diligence--It's unusual for a novel to devote a page and a half listing of research sources--dozens and dozens of titles--but there they are! It's frustrating: what's fact? What's fiction? I'll have to keep reading to get the answer.

So...why didn't Harris give us around 200 pages of convenient "Inside history"--REAL history--and let it go at that? Because the story and the make-believe characters (three or four, at least) just seem to get in the way. It's not that they alter the outcome (they can't, after all), it's just that they seem incapable of even really trying.


Oct 23, 2018

Interesting take on this infamous history but I'm sorry...dry as toast.

Aug 27, 2018

This was a fine enough story. I did keep waiting to see how the two Oxford friends would make out in the end.

Well written but it is difficult to read a book when one knows the outcome...WWII is going to happen despite the machinations of the protagonists.

fineplan Apr 24, 2018

This book stands out among WWII fiction since it actually takes place entirely before the war starts. There is a bit of spy thriller tension, but most of the suspense is political -- and all the stronger because we know their hopefulness is ultimately futile.

Apr 03, 2018

Harris is following the current trend, which I also subscribe to, of re-appraising Chamberlain from a weak, gullible appeaser to one who took a bitter political decision to "throw Czecho under the bus" to give Britain a year to rearm for the inevitable war which Britain was utterly unready for in 1938. The book is a nice merge of fact and fiction, which is Harris's forte. It's detailed account of behind the doors at 10 Downing Street is particularly interesting. However, I didn't find it to be one of his better books

Mar 26, 2018

I'm a third of the way through this novel. The setting is one of the most critical periods in recent history. Some of the minor characters include Hitler and Mussolini. That should, in itself, give "Munich" the breadth of an exciting piece of work. And yet, and yet. This novel doesn't make your pulse race. Instead it puts you to sleep. Plot: one out of ten. Character development: one out of ten. What less could anyone ask for. Two thirds of the way through the novel and I'm still where I started from: the beginning. The plot is all anticipationbut the anticipation is still unfilled.
I give up. No more Harris for me. There are lots of good books to read without wasting my time on this.

Mar 20, 2018

Even though we all know how the 1938 Munich conference will end Harris writes a crackling yarn. Couldn't put it down.

Jan 26, 2018

Four days in September, 1938. The backdrop is the summit meeting at which Hitler, Mussolini, and Neville Chamberlain allow Czechoslovakia to be partitioned at the demand of Nazi Germany; two more minor functionaries, sundered Oxford colleagues, conspire to meet in the respective German and English retinues. Even though we know how the big story will end, Harris' characteristic strong plotting, solid research, and touching humanity produce a highly tense and gripping spy narrative with the Gestapo lurking and the fate of nations being decided.


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