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The Good German

3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  2,787 ratings  ·  335 reviews
Now a Major Motion Picture
The bestselling author of Los Alamos returns to 1945. Hitler has been defeated, and Berlin is divided into zones of occupation. Jake Geismar, an American correspondent who spent time in the city before the war, has returned to write about the Allied triumph while pursuing a more personal quest: his search for Lena, the married woman he left behin
Paperback, 482 pages
Published June 3rd 2002 by Picador (first published January 1st 2001)
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All I want to say is PLEASE read this book before you see the movie. In fact, don't watch the movie after you read it as well. If you enjoy WWII fiction that reads like fiction, then you will love this book. But the movie (like most movies based on a book) is HORRIBLE. I couldn't put this book down!
Friederike Knabe
Kanon's The Good German starts slowly, designed to immerse the reader in the atmosphere of the Berlin of the early post-war months. It is July 1945, the time of the Potsdam Conference. Kanon' s ability to take you virtually by the hand and to lead you through the place is exemplary: ruins, bombed out houses, roads blocked by rubble, empty spaces where, before, Berliners had lived - and where the protagonist himself had lived as a journalist. Jake Geismar, supposedly reporting on the Conference, ...more
Lewis Weinstein
The Good German is a thrilling historical mystery, with a gripping underlying psychological exploration. Kanon presents the struggle for German rocket scientists, Americans versus Russians, with both sides desperate to enhance their own post-war technology and neither concerned about the Nazi past and practices of the men they are seeking. It is hard to find the moral high ground.

The main characters are well-presented and well-developed over the course of the novel. Secondary characters are plen
The days surrounding the fall of the Third Reich have never failed to generate an interest among historians and romantics alike. So was the case with me when I picked this book up during a random search in a forgettable old book sale. Sold to me at a half price or probably lesser than that, I kept this book in my shelf for almost a year before someone read it and got so impressed that they recurrently begged me to consider reading it. So, now I'm done with it and I'm impressed- so much that I'm ...more
Feb 28, 2008 Rebecca rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: history buffs and action fans
If Tom Clancy and Casablanca had a love child, it'd be this book, and it's a great read. More action and faced-paced suspense than Casablanca, more emotional depth than Clancy. But at the same time, it has both their drawbacks as well -- too many characters with interchangeable Russian and German names, and it depends on the reader having a healthy knowledge of the history of WWII in order to understand the story.

Still, I enjoyed the mystery and intrigue in the story, and Kanon's portrayal of p
Not my favorite. It’s very plot-heavy, and I’m a character-development lover. I love the descriptions of Berlin and I wish I’d had a map to trace where he was at every move. That said, he knew far too much of Berlin far too well. The city is much bigger than Kanon makes it out to be. I do like the way in which he tackles guilt, remorse, and Vergangenheitsbewaltigung.
Cindy Daft
Aug 28, 2007 Cindy Daft rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Tiffany
Although I couldn't get the movie actors out of my mind while reading the book; George Clooney, Cate Blanchett, I really enjoyed this novel set in 1945 Berlin. Evokes much thought about who were really the bad people in Germany during the war. Plot was a little twisted and confusing, but the love story conquers all.
Took a little fiction detour over the weekend with this and thoroughly enjoyed it. Couldn't seem to help myself, it unspooled in my head as a black and white movie with strong Bogie and Becall overtones. It's a mystery, thriller, romance, history lesson, study in morality, and I don't now what else all rolled into one. Set in Berlin immediately at the end of WWII I was hooked by the multiple plot lines - Jake finding Lena and solving the mystery of an American GI found with loads of cash in the ...more
Set in Berlin just after the end of World War II, a brilliant thriller about the end of one war and the beginning of another, by the bestselling author of Los Alamos.

Berlin, 1945. Jake Geismar, former Berlin correspondent for CBS, has managed to wangle one of the coveted press slots for the Potsdam Conference. His assignment: a series of articles on the American occupation of postwar Berlin. His personal agenda: to find Lena, the German mistress he left behind at the outbreak of the war. When he
Jun 30, 2012 Carolyn rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Carolyn by: Jim Gysin
Great story, beautifully told. It presents a very sophisticated and nuanced view of German war guilt and the things people did to survive under the Nazis. The descriptions of Berlin in the summer of 1945 are so atmospheric it's like being there. They made me nostalgic: I was there in the summer of 1958 when there was still a lot of war damage. It's probably the most exciting city I've ever been in, maybe because it was still quite dangerous then, with soldiers pointing rifles at anyone who appro ...more
I found this book in an excellent article about so-called Berlin Noir novels (Wall St Jnl, 4/30/11; see link below). For me the main intrigue--involving a murder and a Russian/US tug-of-war over a German rocket scientist--was less interesting than the portrayal of Berlin and its inhabitants in the months just after the German surrender in 1945. The city was in ruins and occupied in different zones by the Allies who are trying to institute a program referred to in the novel as the 4 Ds: demilitar ...more
I'm glad I gave Joseph Kanon a second try. Although The Good German suffers, to some extent, the same largess of characters and pithy dialogue I found tedious in Istanbul Passage, the author generously rewards his readers with some powerful insight into the moral ambiguity of post-WWII politics. Set in Berlin during the rapid transition from hot to Cold War, from ally to enemy, from survivor to collaborator, Kanon weaves a truly compelling tale both in terms of riveting action and of heart-rendi ...more
Ben Rand
There was a point early in this book where I almost gave up on it. There was kind of a blur of characters and the dialogue was hard to follow. And then I got hooked into the story and that was it. Terrific read, with a very sad, haunting commentary on the awful compromises war imposes on individuals and nations. No one escapes blame, not even the winners...the "good" guys.
Kanon can just flat out write. It's that simple. But for better or worse, I put off reading this one after being severely disappointed by the movie version. Bad mistake on my part, and I've finally fixed it after getting enough nudges from friends who know how much I like Kanon's previous work. So now that I've read it? Great story, great narrative, great pacing, great setting. Yes, there is a pattern there. Dialogue is about the only area where he doesn't excel, but it's not as if the lines spo ...more
I picked this book up recently for all the wrong reasons: it's got heft so it reminds me of a Vintage novel; it's a paperback so I can take it anywhere; it was on sale; and it's got George Clooney on the cover. So i figure I should just start reading it now ...

Wow It was a long book! I think i know what happened but towards the end i couldnt tell who knew what and when. Interestingly i think i would have believed the love story angle when the book came out but i thought it was pretty trite now.
The Bestselling author of Los Alamos and Alibi returns to 1945. Hitler has been defeated and Berlin is divided into zones of occupation. Jake Geismar, an Americsn correspondent who spent time in the city before the war, has returned to write about the Allied triumph while persuing a more personal quest: his search for Lena, the married woman he left behind. The Good German is a story of espionage, love, and murder, and extraordinary re-creation of a city devastated by war, and a thriller that as ...more
Tom Jeffs
This is Joseph Kanon's third novel set in Berlin in the days right after the Russian victory and the collapse of The Third Reich. Kanon gives us a superb portrait of the chaos of the first days of occupation and the beginning of the soon to follow cold war. The characters and plot are carefully developed, but the central theme is the reality that an entire nation is guilty of genocide, thus the challenge to find "the good German" If you like intrigue, complex plots and are fascinated by the torm ...more
Alex Page
This book is absolutely brilliant. I have not been able to stop thinking about it since I started reading it.

The main character used to live in Berlin before the war and during the war traveled with Gen. Patton as a war correspondent. Because of this the reader gets a unique perspective of Berlin and the people he knew before the war and through him a greater understanding of how they became the people they are now. The same can be said for Berlin as well. In the book he struggles to comprehen
In 1939, Churchill described the USSR as , "... a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma." This novel, set in Occupied Berlin at the time of the 1945 Potsdam Conference, is a murder mystery wrapped in a love story, inside a thriller wrapped in in a depiction of war-ravaged Berlin all of which provoke questions regarding might vs. right and good vs. evil. Jake, a Murrow-level foreign correspondent for Colliers magazine, returns to Berlin, where he lived before the war, ostensibly to cover ...more
Set in a pivotal time and place in history, Berlin in the summer of 1945, during Potsdam conference, when Russians were turning from allies to Cold War foes. It seems historically accurate as the main character, Jake, an American reporter returns to Berlin where he was stationed before the war to find his former married lover, Lena, and to report on the occupation. He reunites with Lena but finds that her husband, a scientist who worked with Von Braun, is the center of a big story. Jake is troub ...more
I though this was a great mystery, but above that, it really puts the reader in the historical context of what it was like in Germany after the war. It also deals with some of the moral complexities with which both the German and Allied sides were confronted. I found all that really interesting. I was a little disappointed with the ending, though. Kinda felt like an easy wrap-up to a pretty complicated story. Despite that, I would still highly recommend it.
This was a pretty good summer read, a romance/mystery set in barely post-war Berlin. The shady lines of good and bad and an intense search by a young reporter for his former lover (only to find out everyone is searching for her husband), keep the story moving and loyalties shifting. George Clooney and Cate Blanchett starred in the movie just a few years ago (I didn't see it but guess it would be pretty gripping).
Jun 21, 2008 Sheila rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of WWII stories
Recommended to Sheila by: Joseph Beth Booksellers
I loved this book. It was fast paced, suspenseful, excellent. I couldn't put it down. It's a murder mystery set at the Potsdam Conference after WWII. It involves the US, Britain, and Russia. There is the black market, finding Nazis, escaping from the Russian controlled area of Germany, discovering how far the "good" guys will go to get the scientific brain power of Nazi Germany. A page turner!
Colinda Roethemeyer
May 30, 2007 Colinda Roethemeyer rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
"This book gave a great overview as to what Berlin was like immediately after World War II. I never thought about the devastation to the city in the final days. Anyone who is a World War II buff should read. Plus, it has a good mystery imbedded in the book."
The Good German has the makings of a great book. It jumps right into the story at the beginning, which can be problematic if you don't have any background knowledge of the journalism industry during WWII, or if you don't stop to look up many of the references.

In addition to stumbling over the initial references, the dialog was also a bit of a challenge to follow at times, becoming uncertain of which character was speaking.

It had been my hope to use this book in my classroom as it appeared to be
This book was fantastic-- a well written mystery with some romance thrown in, but beyond that were the moral and ethical questions it raised throughout the story to really make you think. What is a good German vs a bad German? Were all Germans guilty of being Nazis even if they were forced to join the political party? Is there any crime where the perpetrator is actually a victim themselves because of the SS forcing them? What did the average German person know during WWII about the camps and the ...more
The movie doesn't do this brilliant novel justice. I can relate on many levels to the text, but it really has everything to offer~ romance, mystery, history and even some comedy.
Aug 28, 2007 Zoe rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: mystery lovers
Shelves: novels, mystery
It's a good look at the complexities of WWII German society. I found it a bit heavy on the violence for me and not as intriguing as Le Carre' tends to be, but still not bad.
Sarah Riddle
This is one of those books that may not change the world, but it is really gripping and fun. Holla.
Brenda Funk
This was a good book to read as I am anticipating returning to Berlin, most of the traces of the destruction and chaos of WWII have been obliberated, but it was good to read about it - to remember what happened here. The novel focuses on the time right around the end of the war, and the awful time that followed -- the Russians taking over, then the division of the city between Americans, British and Russians, the plight of the citizens traumatised by the war and now pawns in this whole fiasco. A ...more
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