All That I Am
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All That I Am

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  3,905 ratings  ·  741 reviews
All That I Am is a masterful and exhilarating exploration of bravery and betrayal, of the risks and sacrifices some people make for their beliefs, and of heroism hidden in the most unexpected places.

When eighteen-year-old Ruth Becker visits her cousin Dora in Munich in 1923, she meets the love of her life, the dashing young journalist Hans Wesemann, and eagerly joins in th...more
Unknown Binding, 368 pages
Published February 7th 2012 by Harper (first published 2011)
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19th out of 224 books — 107 voters
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Impac Dublin Award 2013 Long List
21st out of 154 books — 49 voters

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Community Reviews

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"None of us - teacher or taught- realised how an imagined life can sustain you as a possibility, a hope, and remain just that. Like parallel train tracks, it runs alongside, but will never meet the life you are living."

This book took me absolutely ages to get into and I have no idea why. You know when you know a book is going to be good and the writing is fantastic and the story is brilliant but there is just something stopping you from tearing through it?
I think the main problem that I had was...more
The main effect this book had on me was a deep sense of my own lack of similar courage. I was moved almost to tears by the fate of Ruth Blatt/Becker, and the knowledge that this is basically a true story made it all the more gripping. This book is an excellent example of how best true stories can be converted into novels, without sacrificing either authenticity or readability. All too often I've seen obviously autobiography simply relabelled as "a novel", when in truth the writer has not made an...more
This is an important story, beautifully written, about selflessness, determination, intimacy, collaboration, separation, exile. Told in two voices, it's an interesting juxtaposition of times in history: Ruth's story with her cousin Dora told from the present day and Toller's story of his relationship with Dora told from New York in 1939.
Knowing all we know now, reading about the tense and frightening days when Hitler was new to power, and about the brave intellectuals and exiles who fought agai...more
I wanted to read this book before the Mile’s Franklin award for 2012 is announced as I’m predicting this book will win. All That I Am by Anna Funder is told from the perspective of Ruth Becker and Ernst Toller in alternate chapters. Both Ruth and Toller are remembering life in 1930’s Germany as political activists. Both characters, along with Ruth’s husband Hans and Toller’s lover Dora, publically speak out against Hitler and everything he stands for, advocating independence and freedom of speec...more
This is the kind of historical fiction I so very much love. You learn history and at the same time feel the emotions of the people who live through the historical events. I would suggest reading Sebastian Barry’s A Long Long Way and then continuing with this book by Anna Funder. Barry’s book takes you to the trenches of Belgium during WW1. WW1 is the basis for what happens in Germany leading up to Hitler and WW2.The people who are the prime protagonists in Funder’s book lived through WW1 and wer...more
This deserves 3 and a half. Not in the league of 'Stasiland' - she is on firmer ground with non-fiction and her emotional coolness suits that genre better. Having said that, she writes about an amazing period and real people who I have not heard of previously (feel quite ignorant). It follows the stories of several Germans in the 20s and 30s who were politically active against the Nazis. They are almost all real people - their individual stories are fascinating. I'm not sure that Funder is able...more
I'm not going to give this a rating as that would be unfair based on how much of it I read.
However, it would be a 1 star rating for what I have read.

This book was totally not for me. I picked it for a reading challenge and because it was based in Germany.

Let me say, Ms Funder writes very nice. That isn't that problem with the book for me.

I had two main problems:

One: The changing from character to character and present to past per character was annoying for me. It was bad enough keeping track...more

I purchased this book from my local bookstore a few months ago on the strength of the author’s name, having read and appreciated her non-fiction work, Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall, which, as its title indicates, is an account of life in the former East Germany.

This is Funder’s first novel and a most impressive piece of work. Although it is fiction, it deals with real people and real events; that is, the activities of German socialist activists who were expelled or who escaped...more
Kate Forsyth
I am very ashamed to admit that I could not finish this book, the most awarded and lauded Australian book of 2012. And another AWW! Was I too tired? Am I too frivolous? Or was the book just too slow and self-aware for my tastes? It should have ticked all my boxes. Historical fiction - yay! Set in Nazi Germany - yay! About a brilliant, independent woman mostly forgotten by history - yay! I really, really wanted to love this book, but it just put me to sleep every night. I've left it on my bedside...more
If you are looking for a truly incredible novel Anna Funder’s debut All That I Am is the perfect book for you. All That I Am is the story of a group of young, passionate pacifists that are forced out of Berlin when Hitler comes to power. The novel is told through flashbacks and in alternate voices. Ruth Becker is an old woman when the novel opens, and is being tormented by her past. Ernst Toller finds himself in exile in New York in 1939 as he recounts his time in Berlin. Both narrators had been...more
I took this from my husband's stack when I was in search of something to read before a lengthy airplane trip. Judging it purely by its cover I wondered why my husband had purchased something that appeared to be both a beach read and pure chick lit. Nice surprise, it was neither chick lit nor a beach read.

Based on a number of real life historical figures who all lived during the 30s (and some beyond), the book describes the early days of Hitler's regime, as he takes over Germany and consolidates...more
All That I Am is a story told by Ruth and Toller and their recollection of memories of a time as a political activist, in the 1930, before and during Hitler’s ruling. Joined with two other members, Hans and Dora, they risked their lives by speaking publically against Hitler and his policies, and warning people of their loss of rights, independence and freedom of speech should Hitler come to power. It was quite interesting to see Hitler’s reaction to the group, and the deceitful ways it took him...more
Angela Savage
When All That I Am by Anna Funder won the prestigious 2012 Miles Franklin Award, I decided it was time to see what all the fuss was about. What I discovered was a book to love as both a reader and a writer.

There are so many ideas, beautifully observed, that resonated for me in this book, which can stand alone and lose none of their power. Take this example:

"At least half of what we call hope, I believe, is simply the sense that something can be done."

And this:

"This vast life -- the real, interio...more
liberal sprinkles
All That I Am tells the story of anti-Hitler activists who continued their fight overseas after they were forced to flee Germany in the early 1930s when Hitler came to power. While the central figures in the novel work to warn the world about Hitler's nefarious plans (a world which preferred to close a blind eye to what was happening in Germany), they are limited in their political activities by their refugee status and live in constant fear of discovery and reprisal.

The strength - and perhaps...more
All that i am is Anna Funders first foray into fiction and is a beautiful and enjoyable read. Based on real events and people the books explores the inner workings of the Nazi party and the lives of a number of brave souls who activly opposed them. The book begins with Hitlers coming to power and details the time leading up to world war II. Told through the viewpoints of Ruth Becker now living in Sydney in the present day and revolutionary and poet Ernst Toller who is writing his Memoirs in 1939...more
The betrayal in this book was enough to make me feel sick. Ugh.

Four friends find their lives intertwined just before Hitler gains control of Germany. In a sense they were outlaws even before being outlawed from their country: young Jewish activists who were working to reveal what they saw Hitler's Nazis doing underground. They wrote articles, hosted rallies, wrote plays, gave speeches, but soon it was late. Some of them were jailed for speaking out, some forced to escape into exile, their famil...more
AMAZING Loved it! Loved it! Loved it! It has been four years since I have added a book to my Top Ten and this book is going straight there. What a fantastic read! Guaranteed lifetime favourite - not something I would say lightly as I read a lot of great books. I do love historical fiction but this is magnificent writing in the context of a wonderful story and the most perfect characters - brave, passionate, heroic, human and all so flawed!. I love that the central characters are these strong, in...more
All That I Am is a book which carries on it's shoulders a great responsibility to tell a little told story based on the pages of history. A story set in three time periods, with eloquent writing perfectly adapted for each time and character telling it. All That I Am carries this heavy responsibility with it's bleak and ominous themes above, and beyond the call.
The one hangup I always seem to run into with books that alternate between time periods is that the author seems to drop a stitch , not c...more
This is a novel based on real events which, to me, made it even more interesting. It tells the story of German exiles from the Nazi regime in the early 1930s and deals with the bravery of some in trying to alert the world to what was happening in their native country, and the betrayal by others in trying to stop them. It jumps back and forward in time from the historical events to an old lady at the end of her life, looking back and trying to make sense of what happened.

It took me a few chapters...more
As you may or may not know, I find the subjects of World War I and World War II to be completely fascinating. I love reading about the bravery of people who were put in desperate situations, about the relationships that they formed under such duress and so much more. Many of the stories that I have read and enjoyed over the years have taken place against the background of Nazi atrocities against the Jews and other minorities, and often feature those local people who took up against the oppressor...more
There are three timelines in this book, which made it a little confusing to track who was where when. In one timeline, Ruth is living in modern day Australia at the end of a long life, but her memories of what happened in the 1920s-30s in Germany and London are starting to overtake her daily life. In another timeline, Ermst Toller is in 1939 New York, reflecting on the past decade or so in Germany and London. And finally you have what happened in Germany and London in the 20s-30s in Germany and...more
Jennifer Mills
Couldn't finish this. Never came alive. Do people in books have to be so much like people in books?
Ugh. Potentially fascinating, but so poorly constructed as to be unreadable.
I very much enjoyed this. I've never really thought about the political dissidents within Germany itself, in the lead-up to World War II, because of course they existed—those who were opposed to Hitler and all that he represented. It's not something that is covered in the average Nazi documentary on SBS.

The story is told through the eyes of Ruth Becker, now an old woman living in present-day Sydney, Australia, and Ernst Toller, writing his memoirs in 1939 in a hotel room in New York, as the war...more
Anna Funder, as one of her characters in her debut novel All That I Am, makes a cunning observation about authors using people that they know in their writing. Ernst Toller, (the left-wing activist playwright) is discussing with W.H. Auden (the poet) his reluctance to write about Dora Fabian in his autobiography. Fabian was his one-time lover and fellow-activist against Hitler and is the central character in the novel. (She was also a real person but she doesn’t have a Wikipedia page):

This is a...more
Although this book took me a few "chapters'" before I was really into the story, once it grabbed me, I could scarcely put it down. I think the difficulty at the beginning was the jumping back and forth in time and between characters, which, once I caught on was no problem at all. The bravery of German Jews working in the underground before and during WWII was no less if they were living at ex-pats in England or Czechoslovakia than if they were present in Berlin. The arm of the Reich had a far re...more
Feb 08, 2012 Cindi rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2012
Yesterday morning, I told my husband, "if you read one single book that I suggest to this year, read All That I Am."

All That I Am by Anna Funder is a novel based on the true story of small group of friends and political activists who must flee their native Germany as Hitler gains power in the 1930s but who continue to fight against the Reich from their exile in London. They would spend years in prison, give their lives or even their very souls during this harrowing and dangerous attempt to stop...more
In the run up to World War II, there were liberal activists in Germany who fought Hitler's rise to power. Their story is largely a tragic one, as many of them were among the first concentration camp victims and the world turned a deaf ear to their warnings. They had a critically important message, but they couldn't get many to listen.

The struggle of these activists, including those chronicled in Anna Funder's All That I Am parallels the struggles of the author herself. This is a story worth tell...more
When it is done extraordinarily well, as the justly celebrated Patrick O'Brian Aubrey/Maturin series demonstrates, historical fiction can make the past come alive for readers, transporting us back through time via the hearts and minds of compelling, truly memorable, characters. Much has been written already on the early days of Hitler and Nazi Germany, of which one of the more important recent histories is Richard J. Evans's "The Coming of the Third Reich", which Anna Funder cites as an importan...more
"All That I Am" takes real people and events and is slightly altered to make a semi-fictional story of German exiles during World War II.

The story is told by Ruth Becker and Ernst Toller. In real life, Ernst Toller was an activist who fled to London before World War II as the Nazi Regime deepened their power in Germany. Ruth Becker is based on Ruth Blatt who was a friend of Dora Fabian, another German dissident, who died under mysterious circumstances while in London right before the war.

I want...more
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Anna Funder was born in Melbourne in 1966. She has worked as an international lawyer and a radio and television producer. Her book Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall, won the 2004 Samuel Johnson Prize. She lives in Sydney with her husband and family.
More about Anna Funder...
Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall Stasiland Courage, Survival, Greed

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“Most people have no imagination. If they could imagine the sufferings of others, they would not make them suffer so.” 29 likes
“This vast life - the real, interior one in which we remain linked to the dead (because the dream inside us ignores trivialities like breath, or absence) - this vast life is not under our control. Everything we have seen and everyone we have known goes into us and constitutes us, whether we like it or not. We are linked together in a pattern we cannot see and whose effects we cannot know.” 18 likes
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