Secret Father
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Secret Father

3.48 of 5 stars 3.48  ·  rating details  ·  77 ratings  ·  15 reviews
It is 1961. Khrushchev is hurling threats, a U.S. spy plane has been shot down over the Soviet Union, tensions are rising. Berlin has been cut off from the West: it’s only a matter of weeks until the Wall will be erected. The United States and Americans abroad face dangers they had never imagined. Against this backdrop, the best-selling novelist and historian James Carroll...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published August 13th 2003 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published 2003)
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Good twists and turns, but problems with detailed research. The book mentions the Berlin TV Tower as existing in 1961. It wasn't started until 1965 and completed in 1969.

Apart from that a gripping book after a slowish start that held my attention to the end.
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I admire James Carroll's grasp of the historical facts and complicated moral and cultural nuances of the Vietnam War and the Cold War, and appreciate his attempts to deliver these things in a non-history major friendly way (ie, a novel). The first part of this novel works very well as a historical thriller- lots of tension, father-son relationship exploration, etc. It all falls apart though, with action that seems to lead to a fizzle, rather than any shocking bang, slightly uncomfortable sex sce...more
I just finished reading 'Secret Father'. The first part of the novel was a bit slow and the narrative confusing at first; changing between Michael and his father's point of view. I didn't particularly like Michael's fathers narrative. I found it rather boring discussing the past losses suffered by him.

At first I found Ulrich annoying. As the story continued on, I felt rather sorry for him as he never realized how much his father cared for him. His search for belonging was very real.

I really enjo...more
This offering from James Carroll pushed all the right buttons: A compelling story, interesting characters, crisp and sometimes memorable writing. Even better, I'm familiar with the events and place after having lived in Wiesbaden (the Russian Chapel was visible from our apartment) and elsewhere in Germany during the Cold War and the construction of the Berlin Wall. The pace and tension remind me of those days. Almost all of the details are perfect. The only thing I didn't like was the changing p...more
Shonna Froebel
This book set around the Cold War just before the building of the Berlin wall, with a followup years later when the Berlin wall comes down, is a gripping story. Paul Montgomery, an American banker working in Germany, and his son Michael are still recovering from the accidental death of Paul's wife and Michael's mother, Evie. Michael has been enrolled in an American school for the children of military personnel and his friendship with Ulrich (whose stepfather is high up in the American military)...more
I'm tempted to give 4 stars are for the writer's craft and an engaging story that is hard to put down; but this book did not move me the way other 4-star books have and I have settled on a 3. The setting is the Cold War in the 1950s, just before the Soviets closed off travel between East and West Berlin. Three teenagers travel to Berlin on a lark and are arrested, and theirs is a story of confusion as well as maturation. But this book is as much about their parents and the histories and emotions...more
This was a very readable novel that was part thriller and part father-son relationship analysis in the historical context of 1960's Berlin, right before the wall was built. The book started a little slowly and then became more interesting as more details of the mystery were revealed. The ending felt a little unsatisfying, perhaps because it tried to tie together too many loose ends in too little time. I did like how the metaphor of spying and lack of trust applied to both personal and political...more
Set in 1961 in Berlin, the story follows 3 teenagers who go to East Berlin for a big Commie rally. International incident happens, and oh by the way the one kid is the son of a major political figure - can't remember if he was a spy or military (maybe both?) - I actually read this about 4 years ago, but I just found it in my car and wanted to capture it because just seeing the cover brought back the feeling I had of loving reading it. And my friend loved it too - so clearly I need to re-read it!...more
Though this one is as compelling as a mass-market page-turner, it is anything but formulaic, and it doesn't depend on a reader's latent paranoia to sustain interest.
Dan Wasserman
I forgot that I had already read this book some time ago. It is a really good read if you're interested in the early days of the Iron Curtain.
This is the second book I have read from this author. I enjoyed it. Look forward to reading more of his work.
Jeanne Cassin
Wonderful novel set(mostly)in Berlin in the early 60's, just before the wall went up. Very hard to put down!
A struggle to get through at points, it is one of the most profoundly sad books I have read.
Vicki Mollenauer
The writing is good, but the story just wasn't going anywhere for me. I couldn't finish this one.
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James Carroll was born in Chicago and raised in Washington, D.C. He has been a civil rights worker, an antiwar activist, and a community organizer in Washington and New York. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1969 and served as Catholic chaplain at Boston University. Carroll left the priesthood to become a novelist and playwright. He lives in Boston with his wife, the novelist Alexandra Marshal...more
More about James Carroll...
Constantine's Sword: The Church and the Jews, A History An American Requiem: God, My Father & the War That Came Between Us House of War: The Pentagon and the Disastrous Rise of American Power Practicing Catholic Prince of Peace

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