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The Third Reich

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3.46 of 5 stars 3.46  ·  rating details  ·  2,085 ratings  ·  272 reviews

On vacation with his girlfriend, Ingeborg, the German war games champion Udo Berger returns to a small town on the Costa Brava where he spent the summers of his childhood. Soon they meet another vacationing German couple, Charly and Hanna, who introduce them to a band of locals—the Wolf, the Lamb, and El Quemado—and to the darker side of life in a resort town.

Late one

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Hardcover, 288 pages
Published November 22nd 2011 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 2010)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Mike Puma

Goddammit! I’m pissed, pissed and a little troubled. I just finished The Third Reich, within the half-hour. I’m not one to pore over what I’ve just read—rehashing the ‘what did it means’ or a book’s merits or flaws, I like it or don’t, set a course and run with it. A hastily formed first impression, whether with books or people, is good enough for me. Opinionated, I suppose, but it’s me.

So, what do I make of The Third Reich? What indeed? Part of me, the part I favor, tells me this is every bit a

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Tony
Would you like to play a game? What kind of game? Oh, a board game. Like Sorry or Monopoly? Yes, like that. What’s it called? It’s called 'The Third Reich'. That ‘Third Reich’? Is there any other? I suppose not. What are the rules? You know the rules. Everybody knows the rules. Who’s who? Since it’s my game and I’m the world champion, I’ll be Germany. You can be the Allies. But I think I know how this turns out. Don’t I? You mean you think History is immutable? Well, there are revisionists, of c ...more
Lee
Listened to this after my mama found the CDs for $7 and asked if I wanted them (I did). I'd tried to read the hardback when it came out -- didn't so much fail it as I knew I'd need to read it when I had more patience. Glad to have the complete audiobook on my phone now (the future is here). A solid 4.25 stars rounded down since it's not fair to the five-star books of the world to round up. Loved Udo Berger, the meticulous, obsessive narrator gamer, super-German, jotting his daily memories over t ...more
Markus
Bolano has a knack for creating terror from virtually nothing. There are no real pretexts for his moments of tension but they are felt by the reader as if she is reading the most horrifying passage. Personally, I have never read anything that accomplishes this. Its similar to creating mood and tension with music but much more difficult. Its like a dream where your dream self is in great danger but the whole time your conscious self knows its a dream and everything is ok but the two can't communi ...more
Kelly
This was my third Bolaño novel, (the first two being "2666" and "The Savage Detectives"). Familiarity with where he would eventually end up as a novelist makes reading "The Third Reich" an eerily fun experience. It also illuminates the central themes of his later works. "The Third Reich" is the name of a strategic board game that mirrors the battle chronology of World War II, and Bolaño has made the champion player a young German on vacation in Spain. It's worth noting that Bolaño had a special ...more
Matthew
I admittedly and without shame, despite the obvious implications, have developed a fetish for every scrap of Bolaño's writing that materializes before me. I didn't even like his poetry at first (I prefer poetry, especially poetry of Bolaño’s trajectory, to any form of prose), but I have started to like his poetry as well. I can't fairly lay The Third Reich against The Savage Detectives or 2666, or even The Skating Rink or anything else. The manuscript was found among his papers after his death, ...more
Biogeek
Ugh!
My initial review was just those three letters. But maybe I need to add more. This book is a perfect addition to the shelf of any reader who needs to convince others that their reading tastes are higher brow than most. Like Murakami and so many others on that same shelf, I wonder if the stilted writing and slow pacing is the result of poor translation. Pages and pages where nothing happens, and where the protagonist seems to be stuck in a slow-motion time warp, make for dull reading. Ever w
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Chris
I was a gamer once. I played Dungeons and Dragons. And then graduate school happened and all I had time for was Magic the Gathering. I can understand the appeal of gaming, even historical war game, which I never played. Yet the appeal of playing a game about WW II and seeing if Germany can win seems rather well strange.

I think Bolano felt the same way because in this book he examines how some people lose the connection to reality when they play games. It is no surprise that his central character
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Pedro Cabiya
Trescientas y pico de páginas de narrativa inane acerca de un huevón que juega wargames, su novia y dos panas que encuentra en un resort de la costa catalana. Cómo alguien habría podido ponerse a escribir tan largamente esta novela sin destino es algo que no me cabe en la cabeza. Una de esas ideas que se le ocurren a los escritores, pero que solo el escritor mismo entiende. Lo único que saqué de este supositorio de melao fue la curiosidad por esos benditos juegos de guerra. Peladores el Quemado, ...more
Christopher
Reader, meet Udo Berger: German war games extraordinaire, on vacation in Spain with his girlfriend. You can read his diary in Roberto Bolaño's posthumous volume The Third Reich. You can read of their exploits, lounging around the beach, clubbing until late in the morning hours, meeting other German tourists and locals with names such as the Wolf and the Lamb.

Now, reader, meet El Quemado (translation: "the burn victim"), the owner-operator of a pedal boat rental business, who may or may not be h
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Harry
May 30, 2012 Harry rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Harry by: Longlong Cao
Shelves: reviewed
Existentialism and Shifting Reality on Vacation

I have read some interesting reviews about this book. Sadly they all seem disappointed with it. I on the other hand found it quite thrilling.
At first I must admit that Roberto Bolano was a new name to me, but fresh eyes can usually see things that others cannot. While I think that other readers approached "Third Reich" as a Holy Grail, a lost unpublished manuscript only to find it unpolished I was optimistic.
A German war games champion Udo Berger o
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jeremy
at the time of his death in 2003, roberto bolaño was all but unknown to english audiences (despite accolades aplenty throughout the spanish-speaking world). earlier that same year, by night in chile became the first of his works to be published in english. now, some eight years later, sixteen of the late chilean's books (not including melville house's interview collection) are available in english translation; an average of two per year since his passing.

the third reich (tercer reich), found amo
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inverted_a
Μάλλον μία αδύνατη ιστορία (για μυθιστόρημα) και ένα σαφώς χωρίς διόρθωση τελικό κείμενο, ωστόσο ο άνθρωπος που λίγα χρόνια αργότερα θα έγραφε το 2666* δείχνει σε σημεία την ικανότητά του (και την πρόθεσή του) να πραγματεύεται τη βία, το φόβο και το θάνατο.

*το βιβλίο που όλοι πρέπει να διαβάσουν
Hugo Emanuel
Sou relativamente novo no universo de Roberto Bolaño. A primeira vez que me dispôs a explorar o seu legado literário não me pôs com meias medidas e comecei logo pelo monumental "2666" - apesar de o ter feito com pouco ou nenhum conhecimento da vida pessoal do autor além dos factos de que este falecera e de que os suas obras tinham quase tantos acólitos como detractores (a maioria dos críticos pareciam adorar os seus trabalhos mas a opinião do publico geral parecia estar algo dividida). Considero ...more
Psychophant
I have included the War tag, though this is not a book about war, but wargames. I was involved in wargames at the same period as that covered in the book, the 80s, when for a short time it seemed as if wargames could break out from the nerd ghetto to become a serious hobby.

The book, like all of Bolaño's work, has several layers of meaning, from the risk of taking hobbies too seriously, to taking history as a game, forgetting history's lesson, to a picture of a time and place in the Spanish tour
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mao
λοιπόν.. ενδιαφέρουσα περίπτωση πραγματικά. σε καθηλώνει με ένα τρόπο ενοχλητικό, όπως κάπως ενοχλητικά και μονίμως ανεξήγητα είναι αυτά που συμβαίνουν στο αφηγητή. Αυτή ακριβώς η μόνιμη απορία/ενόχληση είναι η διαδικασία της αφήγησης, το άβολο μέτρημα του ευατού του απέναντι στον ίδιο και τους άλλους. Νομίζω ότι ο Μπολάνιο δεν επιθυμεί να ευχαριστήσει τον αναγνώστη του, αλλά μάλλον να τον ταλαιπωρήσει μαζί με τον ήρωα του, γι αυτό άλλωστε αφηγείται σε πρώτο πρόσωπο. Ταυτόχρονα προσφέρει συνέχει ...more
Lupe Luna
If your expectations of Roberto Bolano were set up by Los Detectives Salvajes or 666, this shorter and older novel (unpublished during Bolano's life) may be a little dissapointment. But if you just love to know more about this author or come fresh to him, it is a quite interesting book: captivating, uncomplicated and clearly in crescendo.
Curiosity about the role that the war game was going to play in the development of the action was essential for me to continue after the first few pages -as I d
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Luís Paz da silva
Este é um livro estranho. Começa por ser um pouco banal (as férias na Costa Brava descritas por um jogador internacionalmente famoso de jogos de guerra de tabuleiro), alguns personagens são excessivamente estereotipados e dá a ideia de que as pontas soltas do romance são fruto de um trabalho não retocado. Mas depois pensa-se um pouco no assunto e se calhar não é bem assim. Ou então é e não passa de um livro algo enfadonho, mas bem escrito. Roberto Bolaño faleceu tragicamente cedo. Mas quando se ...more
Richard
I have to admit to not really keeping up with the chronology of Bolano's works, so don't really knwo where this fits in his timeline with respect to the Savage Detectives or 2666. This is very different from some of his other works though, where the thread between them and his two major works are a lot clearer. The setting is also very different and it took a while to re-acclimatise to the Bolano world of black humour, intrigue, sexual yearning and suspense.

Overall I enjoyed it, although it fade
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Natalie
I basically love and drool over every tiny scrap of Bolano's writing that we've been thrown since his death, but this one just didn't have the same effortless beauty that all of his previous writing contains. It's not Bolano's fault; The Third Reich is a previously unpublished book purportedly written in 1989 and found among his papers after his death, and one gets the impression he wasn't quite finished polishing it or else wasn't ready for it to see print. The climax was, well, anticlimactic. ...more
Merilee
Have just read part 2 of 3 in Paris Review.

Read part 3 today and would strongly recommend the book. A young German, Udo Berger, plays war games, mainly one called The Third Reich, in his hotel room on the Costa Brava in Spain. The war games are only the backdrop for weird and sometimes wonderful goings on on the beach, in bars, and in the hotel.
Dergrossest
The protagonist of this book is the German champion of Third Reich, an amazingly complex board game about WWII where the players control the Axis or Allied powers and attempt to repeat or re-write history. The protagonist is obsessed with the game, a mysterious beautiful woman from his youth and a horribly disfigured man with whom he becomes entangled while vacationing in one of the ubiquitous Mediterranean coastal towns of Spain. All three of his obsessions threaten to undo him as he loses touc ...more
εδουάρδος
Σίγουρα πρόκειται για ένα πολύ ιδιαίτερο βιβλίο. Αν συνυπολογίσουμε ότι μιλάμε για ένα ημιτελές μυθιστόρημα, από την άποψη ότι εκδόθηκε χωρίς την άδεια του συγγραφέα, αλλά και χωρίς τη δυνατότητα να τύχει μιας καλύτερης επιμέλειας, τότε ίσως η αξία του να μεγαλώνει. Έφτασα χωλαίνοντας μέχρι τα μισά του βιβλίου μιας και η τεχνική της αφήγησης σε πρώτο πρόσωπο είναι μια πρόσθετη δυσκολία. Ο Μπολάνιο υφαίνει μια δαιδαλώδης πλοκή, με μυστήριες εικόνες, υπέροχες παρομοιώσεις, αμφίσημες αναδρομές και ...more
Susan
Still thinking about this one. I really love Bolano. Mesmerizing tales about quirky people. The title refers to a game the main character plays, almost like a professional. He 's a young German from Stuttgart on vacation with his girlfriend in a seaside resort near Barcelona, staying, in fact, at the same hotel where he stayed with his parents during several summers in the not-very-distant past.

One of the book's strengths is the 1st person narrator WWII) has to be viewed as a version of the naiv
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B. G.
A puzzling work on its surface, though it reveals itself to be influential on his later masterworks. For example, Udo Berger's gaming society resembles Bolano's vision of the academic world in _2666_. You can also see where ideas of confronting the Nazi past would be worked into that novel as well. This latter point is particularly timely because the (very) public Historikerstreit ("Historians' debate") between Habermas and Ernst Nolte (et al) would have been all over the papers during the time ...more
Ralph
Short version: meh.
Long version: I'd never read any Bolano before. This probably wasn't the best place to start. It was unpublished during the author's lifetime, and reads like it was unfinished. I'm usually skeptical of the practice of treating unpublished manuscripts as if they complete works, and this book does little to change my mind. The plot points and thematic elements are developed, but don't go anywhere but wandering off down the beach. The characters' motives are not clearly establish
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Julie
Pretty interesting. Not Bolaño's best (how could it be after spending 20 years at the bottom of a drawer before being discovered?). I would be pretty happy if I could eventually write a novel on this level, honestly. This book is about a German named Udo who is obsessed with playing a strategy board game called The Third Reich (much to my surprise some google fu revealed that this game actually exists). He goes on holiday with his girlfriend at a beachside resort in Spain, where his family used ...more
Sasluu
The man is still green, not at his best, which began to take shape about seven years later (this novel is from 1989). This is Bolaño still trying out the particular inflections of the menacing yet hilarious tone he would so successfully make his own in later works. In its earlier form, this tone and the tricks that go with it are still bare, and, what's more and worse: still too dependent on allegory. This is a younger Bolaño, as upset about the historical upheavals in Latin American politics th ...more
Carlos Bennett
Udo Berger, el joven campeón alemán del Wargame "El Tercer Reich", viaja a España de vacaciones. Se hospeda en el mismo hotel en el que se alojaba con su familia cuando era niño. Acompañado de su novia Ingeborg, una bella alemana que gusta de las novelas de misterio, ya desde el principio el ambiente de playa y sol parece hacer sentir fuera de lugar a Udo, que se encuentra más a gusto en su habitación de hotel (con las cortinas corridas) moviendo fichas en el tablero y planeando variantes en su ...more
David Alexander
I experienced with The Third Reich the same kind of rebellion I often do with wandering, intentionally aimless postmodern works such as Thomas Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49. When I was 3/4s of the way done with the novel, I almost quit, seeing no reason to continue. I then reflected that I liked what I thought was a guiding idea in the novel, an exploration of ominous, sexually-and violence-tinged atmosphere, the atmosphere of late democratic liberalism. I thought perhaps such a focus can aid t ...more
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la aguilisima pluma 8 29 Feb 12, 2013 08:37AM  
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For most of his early adulthood, Bolaño was a vagabond, living at one time or another in Chile, Mexico, El Salvador, France and Spain.

Bolaño moved to Europe in 1977, and finally made his way to Spain, where he married and settled on the Mediterranean coast near Barcelona, working as a dishwasher, a campground custodian, bellhop and garbage collector — working during the day and writing at night.

H
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“The town was sunk in a kind of crystal ball; everyone seemed to be asleep (transcendentally asleep!) no matter if they were walking or sitting outside. Around five the sky clouded over and at six it began to rain. The streets cleared all at once. I had the thought that if it was as if autumn had unsheathed a claw and scratched: everything was coming apart. The tourists running on the sidewalks in search of shelter, the shopkeepers pulling tarps over the merchandise displayed in the street, the increasing number of shop windows closed until next summer. Whether I felt pity or scorn when I saw this, I don't know. Detached from any external stimulus, the only thing I could see or feel with any clarity was myself. Everything else had been bombarded by something dark; movie sets consigned to dust and oblivion, as if for good.” 3 likes
“Happy are those who own nothing.” 2 likes
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