Potsdam Station: A John Russell WWII Thriller
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Potsdam Station: A John Russell WWII Thriller (John Russell #4)

4.03 of 5 stars 4.03  ·  rating details  ·  758 ratings  ·  82 reviews
In April 1945, Hitler’s Reich is on the verge of extinction. Assaulted by Allied bombs and Soviet shells, ruled by Nazis with nothing to lose, Berlin has become the most dangerous place on earth.

John Russell’s son Paul is stationed on the Eastern Front with the German Army, awaiting the Soviets’ final onslaught. In Berlin, Russell’s girlfriend Effi has been living in disgu...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published January 10th 2012 by Soho Crime (first published June 21st 2010)
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Timothy Hallinan
In this, his fourth novel set in and around Berlin as Hitler comes to power and then falls, the huge continuing story David Downing began with ZOO STATION comes to an end, or at least a major pausing point.

In the chaotic, still murderous final days of Hitler's Reich, Downing follows the converging narratives of his main characters, the journalist John Russell; his actress-lover, Effi Koenen; and Russell's son from a former marriage, Paul, who's now in the German Army as they all move toward Berl...more
Al
I enjoyed the first three books in this series, but my first instinct was not to bother with this one. That was probably correct. For hardcore Downing fans, this book has much of what made the first three offerings so attractive: good historical detail, sympathetic characters, some suspense. Unfortunately, this book is somewhat incoherent, and one feels that at this point Downing is just cashing in on his franchise. The story crosscuts among three plotlines, unnecessarily confusing the narrativ...more
Gerald Sinstadt
It may seem churlish to resist such energy devoted to research but David Downing's recreation of 1930s and 40s Berlin ultimately palls. No vintage map seems to have been left unconsulted so that every journey takes place street by street. No doubt, transported back five or six decades, we would recognise every building, every landmark, but that in itself is not sufficient reason to open the book. The early pages of Potsdam Station suggest that the hideous threats to the journalist John Russell a...more
Mark

Well, Mr. Downing has left the door open to a sequel to this wonderful series, and I hope he walks through it.

This fourth book in the John Russell saga is set in the last, bloody days of Berlin's fate in WWII, with the Russians closing in from the East, successive waves of bombing from the Russians and western Allies each day and then relentless artillery pounding, until nearly every street was reduced to unpredictable rubble.

In this chaos, John's girlfriend Effi, unbeknownst to him, has survive...more
GONZA
A spy story, that is a love story, that is a story of parenthood and has an happy ending, which is the best thing of the plot in the end IMHO. The charachters are well known as this is the 4th installation in the series, but as a read alone novel they miss part of their background, plus they always miss each other for 5 minutes, and end the end this was pretty boring. Best part was Berlin in 1945, short before the soviet army arrives to "free" the city. Even there, I think the author exagerrated...more
Steve Smits
This World War II novel centers around three related lives that have been separated by the tumult in and around war time Berlin. John Russell is an Englishman who resided in Germany for many years prior to the outbreak of the war with Russia. Russell, a journalist who earlier in his life became a Communist, escaped from Germany in 1941, leaving behind his girlfriend Effi (described as a well-known movie star before the war) and his son, Paul. Effi chose not to leave, instead involving herself in...more
Tony
Downing, David. POTSDAM STATION. (2011). ***.
This is the first book by this author that I’ve read. It’s the fourth in his series of historical suspense novels featuring his protagonists John Russell, a Britih journalist, and Effie, his girlfriend, a famous former film star. The time is 1945 and the setting is, primarily, Berlin, where the Soviet troops are rapidly advancing on the city. The story starts with John in Moscow, trying to negotiate permission for him to be in Berlin as the Soviet...more
Cheryl A
This lastest installment of Downing's John Russell series has the journalist traveling to Soviet Russia in an attempt to ride into Berlin with the conquering Red Army. He hopes to use his previous "favours" to the Russians as means to early entry into Berlin so that he can find his girlfriend Effi, a former German film star, who stayed behind so that John could escape in 1941.

John's attempts to gain creditials through regular channels meet with no success, but he is taken by the NKVD, the Soviet...more
Liviu
Excellent tale set in the John russell world; I have no idea if there is more planned - there is lots of scope for taht but this book could be a fitting ending since after all it ends with downfall of the Reich where all the stories took part; here we have a three layered story - John Russell and his oddyssey to get in Berlin of late April 1945, which he manages only by persuading the NKVD he can help them filch nuclear secrets from the German ahead of the Americans and the British; Effi's story...more
Soho Press
In POTSDAM STATION, John Russell, a British journalist, navigates the crumbling streets of Berlin in the last moments of WWII in an effort to be reunited with his girlfriend, Effi, and his son, Paul. John has been caught up in a web of espionage, trading favors with Soviet, British, American, and German intelligence in order to survive day by day in Berlin, and if he wants to get himself and his family through these dangerous days alive he has to call in some favors.

Meanwhile, Effi is caught up...more
Carla
I really enjoy historical fiction, especially WWII novels, and I thought this one was pretty good.

It's the 4th book in a series, and I haven't read the other three so I can't compare them. (I normally don't read series novels, but here is a good place for the FTC disclosure to say that I won this book in the Firstreads Giveaway contest.)

There was nothing very surprising about the plot; I pretty much knew how things were going to play out for the main characters. What I loved about the book, tho...more
Bill
A thriller about the struggle to survive in Berlin in April 1945 as the Red Army closes in. This is the 4th book in a series about British journalist John Russell who escaped from Berlin with the help of his girlfriend, Effi. Once a great film actress, Effi is now living in hiding because the Nazis believe she is a traitor. As the story opens she is helping to smuggle Jews out of Germany. John convinces the Soviets to help him reenter Berlin to help them get information from a German science ins...more
Sue
Excellent close to the series. Unbelievably tense, I was on the edge of my seat for the entire book. This one really had you feeling as if you were wandering the broken and dangerous streets of Berlin, trying so very desperately to survive. The detail must be very real, as many of the descriptions were so very close to things my father told me about the end of the war.

Great book. Only caveat is I'd actually recommend the paper version vs Kindle. They really messed up the formatting on the elect...more
Robert Ronsson
Other eviewers have referred to this being the last in the series but to me it has the feeling of a fourth book in planned trilogy. Perhaps the John Russell franchise has been so successful that an original contract for three has been extended.
This book starts in 1945 and it requires a lot of backfilling to bridge the chasm of three turbulent years since Stettin Station. Effi Koenen, who first appeared four books back as Russell's incidental love interest, has had the more interesting war and i...more
Mcrmilhist
I have really enjoyed the John Russell series for it's evocative atmosphere and attention to detail. My main criticism in Potsdam Station would be echoed by other reviewers in how much did people understand the power of the atomic bomb in May 1945 particularly a journalist.

The other rare mistake is this book mentions the street Clayallee which wasn't named as such until 1953 after the US Military governor of the US Zone of Occupation.
Nicki
At the end of the last book, John Russell was forced to flee Nazi Germany, leaving behind his girlfriend, Effi, and young son, Paul. That was December 1941. This fourth book in the Station series picks up in April 1945, as the Red Army closes in on Berlin.

The book follows the three main protagonists: Russell, Effi and Paul. Russell is hawking his services to the Soviets in a desperate attempt to get back to Berlin and find his family. Effi is living in disguise in Berlin, helping Jews and Germa...more
Gareth Evans
To my mind the major strength of the 'station' series is the background. Russell and the other characters drive the plots (which vary in plausibility), but it is the context in which they operate that provides the interest (perhaps in contrast to Philip Kerr's Bernie Gunther novels where the t plots are more convincing). In earlier novels Downing has sometimes struggled to get the main characters into especially interesting places, in Potsdam Station he has his main characters at the fall of Ber...more
Leah
Note: I read the ARC.

I enjoyed this book overall. I don usually read historical fiction, but I'm enough of a nerd to appreciate when it's been done well. Potsdam was my first foray into the John Russell series so occasionally I felt as though I was missing something by not already knowing the backstory. That said the three main characters (Russell, Effi, and John's son whose name escapes me) were all well fleshed out. I particularly enjoyed the story from Effi's POV. I had a few problems with...more
Naomi
i wasn't sure i'd read any more of David Downing's books because his last book was a little fantastic; John Russell and his girlfriend Effi miraculously defying all odds to track down a missing girl (held by the Nazis in a brothel) and finally escaping Germany.

having recently read A Woman in Berlin: Eight Weeks in the Conquered City: A Diary piqued my interest again and coincidentally, Potsdam Station covers the same time frame: the Russians were clearly winning the war and headed for Berlin.

P...more
Wiley
I would actually rate this 3.5 Stars if I could. It is a decent novel of historical fiction which is a genre I favor, as is WWII history. I was especially interested in the setting of Berlin in the last days of the war, knowing as I do the historical details in some considerable detail, and wanting to read a personalized account of the human experience in those days, even though fictional.

I am somewhat familiar with the layout of Berlin having visited a few times, certainly the major landmarks a...more
Ken
April 1945 -- Berlin is beseiged. The city is staggering under the daily bombing attacks of American and British bombers. The Russians are only a few miles away lobbing artillary shells into the city. Old men and children are marching out to meet the enemy...sometimes at gunpoint. Der Führer is hiding in his bunker but still issuing ridiculous pronouncements that help is on the way. Gestapo thugs are roaming the streets lynching men they decide are deserters. The starving residents...those who h...more
Elli
A really fine book. Setting is the very end of the world war 2 fighting in Germany, Berlin in particular. The family situation is complicated, but the hero and his de-facto wife have been separated for most of the war. He, a journalist, escaped after learning he was to be arrested, but she chose to stay and try to work underground to help others escape. In this sequel the war is ending, but the danger is definitely not. The hero must work with the Russians under cover in order to be able to find...more
Stein
== The misery of Berlin’s last days of WWII ==

This was the 4th of Downing’s ‘Station’ WW II crime/thriller/spy novels that I have read. It involves the time period from April 6th to May 2nd, 1945. The locations are Berlin and Moscow. The journalist John Russell, who had to flee Berlin in 1941, has been to England and the U.S. lately he is marooned in neutral Sweden. He is increasingly worried about his girlfriend Effi and his son Paul who are back in Germany and he has lost touch with. He devise...more
Mark
With the Russian advancing on the burned out husk of Berlin, what little was left after the Allies had bombed it to hell, young Paul made his way back into town to try to shed his German uniform so as not be recognized as a German soldier, while at the same time avoiding marauding gangs of let over SS who were rounding up and shooting deserters.
His father, John Russell, who had fled Germany for the United States at the beginning of the war, abandoning his wife and young son to avoid his own arre...more
Scot
Fourth in this series, certainly one of the strongest, with a gripping focus: what's going on in and around Berlin in the final days of World War II there. We are given, interwoven together as the novel proceeds, three fairly well balanced and distinctive character perspectives: the original series protagonist, John Russell, the journalist-cum-triple agent who just wants to help those he loves survive; Paul, his son, raised as a German (he is half English) and a member of the Hitler Youth at the...more
Christine Keleny
Potsdam Station is a story primarily about a man named John Russell, his life and the lives of the people he cares about - his girl friend and his grown son, in the time just before the end of WWII. The primary setting is Germany, specifically Berlin. Russell is a journalist who has gotten himself into Russia because of his past interactions within that country (perhaps explained in previous books - this is not the first John Russell story), but also because he knows the Russians are going to be...more
Melissa
I enjoyed the book quite a bit. I enjoyed the history of it and the characters. I didn't like how it transitioned from one plot line to another, I don't know if that was the way it was printed or if it was meant to be that way from the writer but there wasn't much of a seperation between them to make you realized you were suddenly reading someone else's plot line. It intereupted the flow of the story a bit.

I liked that you got to read about how the soldiers and the citizens were trying to surviv...more
Wildpurl
After reading Stettin Station, which ends on a cliffhanger, I had to get Potsdam station immediately to find out what happened next. This book opens 2+ years after the end of Stettin Station, the Americans and the Red Army are advancing on Berlin.

The story is told from the three points of view of John Russell, his son Paul Gehrts, and his girlfriend Effi Koenen. As well as being an exciting and clever plot which keeps you guessing right to the end, this book, like the others, takes the reader to...more
Jim McDermott
Having really enjoyed the three predecessors to this book, I was looking forward to the 4th installment. However, it's a step too far. The hero's method of returning to Germany ahead of the advancing Soviet Armies is frankly implausible. The rather rigid three story split between John Russell, his girlfriend and his son becomes increasingly frustrating, and, most strikingly, the son Paul seems to have evolved seamlessly from an innocent child to something of a young killing machine - or at least...more
Bill Bentham
Previous readers of David Downing will not be disapointed. Although this book works well as a stand alone novel, the author refers back to events that transpired in the first three John Russell novels. Potsdam Station deals with the end days of WW2 in Berlin. Most of the city is rubble from the ceaseless bombing raids by the allies. SS fanatics roam the streets, shooting or hanging "deserters" Citizens stand in line for hours for a hunk of bread and water. John Russel is a newspaperman wwith no...more
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David Downing is the author of a political thriller, two alternative histories and a number of books on military and political history and other subjects as diverse as Neil Young and Russian Football.
More about David Downing...
Zoo Station (John Russell, #1) Silesian Station (John Russell, #2) Stettin Station (John Russell, #3) Lehrter Station (John Russell, #5) Masaryk Station (John Russell, #6)

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