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The Report

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3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  733 ratings  ·  171 reviews
A stunning first novel that is an evocative reimagining of a World War II civilian disaster

On a March night in 1943, on the steps of a London Tube station, 173 people die in a crowd seeking shelter from what seemed to be another air raid. When the devastated neighborhood demands an inquiry, the job falls to magistrate Laurence Dunne.

In this beautifully crafted novel, Jess
...more
Paperback, 238 pages
Published August 31st 2010 by Graywolf Press
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Catch-22 by Joseph HellerAll Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria RemarqueSlaughterhouse-Five by Kurt VonnegutThe Things They Carried by Tim O'BrienFor Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
Best War Novels
219th out of 599 books — 566 voters
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Best 1940s Historical Fiction
57th out of 166 books — 240 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,651)
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Dan (The Chaotic Reader) Porter
This is the story of an accident that claimed the lives of one hundred seventy-three Londoners at the entrance to an air-raid shelter on the evening of March 3, 1943 and of how individuals, a community, and a government dealt with its aftermath. It is a novel based on an actual incident during World War II. Kane leads us to an understanding of the accident by following the conduct of the official inquiry into its causes and the preparation of a documentary on "The Report" of the inquiry thirty y ...more
James
The greatest experience you can have as a reader is to entrust yourself to an author you have never heard of before, to read a book about which you know nothing, and to be rewarded for this leap of faith with a glorious read. I have no idea why I put this book on my to read list nor indeed any memory of how it actually reached my bookshelf. I suspect my wife despite her denials sneaked it in the to read bookshelf in an ongoing quest to widen my blinkered horizons.

The story is a sparse and under
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Kevin Fanning
This is a fictionalized look at an event that really happened. 173 really did die, suddenly and unexpectedly, in a London air raid shelter during WWII. So. With a book like this, where you know Something Bad is going to happen, the question is only: When? The author teases things out, gets us invested in the characters and their lives, making note of tiny little details that might seem important or tragic later, and the suspense is all built up by the reader wondering when when when is this Bad ...more
Jane
“The Bethnal Green Tube shelter disaster took place on the evening of Wednesday March 3, 1943.

173 people died in a terrifying crush as panic spread through the crowds of people trying to enter the station's bomb shelter in the East End of London.

However, no bomb struck and not a single casualty was the direct result of military aggression, making it the deadliest civilian incident of World War Two.”

Jessica Francis Kane, read the full historical transcript of the enquiry into this, the worst civ
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Tara
I was intrigued as to what an American author's take on this English wartime tragedy would be. Her source material was a government-commissioned inquiry, later published by HMSO in book form.

At first it seemed too dry, but actually her approach works very well. The main character is JP Laurie Dunne, author of the report, but it also focuses on others involved in the case.

Without resorting to 'Spirit of the Blitz' cliche, Jessica Francis Kane achieves a thoughtful and moving, if unsettling look
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Elizabeth
The Report is a fictional version of the events leading up to, and the inquiry into, the Bethnal Green Tube Station disaster which occurred on 3rd March 1943, when 173 people died.

The novel looks into the lives of some of the people involved in the disaster, focussing particularly on the Magistrate Laurence Dunne who was appointed to handle the inquiry, a local family who lost one of their children in the disaster, a Clerk working for the Council, one of the wardens whose job it was to maintain
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Steve
It's a risky, unexpected move for a novel about a historical tragedy to focus not on the "action" of the event, but rather the bureaucratic reconstruction and presentation of it, but Jessica Francis Kane pulls it off. It's impressive how smoothly The Report balances direct engagement of questions about historical construction, textuality, and authorship with a keen, humane, but never sentimental focus on the lives at stake in how the Bethnal Green tragedy gets remembered.

I've probably made it so
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Ruth Brueck
May 19, 2010 Ruth Brueck rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Yes
I recieved an early printing of the book "The Report" by Jessica Francis Kane. I really enjoyed reading this account of a civilian tragedy that took place during WWII. Ms. Kane has taken a true incident and added fictional characters to tell the story. She does a wonderful job of showing both the faults and strengths of the people in the story. I was impressed by tha fact that she didn't make any of her characters seem unrealistically sentimantal. Rather, the honest human frailities which we all ...more
Carol
A compelling read. Like following a thread you can't take your eyes from-- as slowly Kane builds tension. Beautifully written with passages that are so good you have to read them again for the pure pleasure of the language. I highly recommend it!
Lizzie
Feb 09, 2014 Lizzie rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2014, own
So, I have sat on writing this review for a little bit, and I'm not sure what to do about it. My problem is something like: this book disappointed me a little, but I still have nothing but good feelings for it, so I don't want to give the wrong impression.

I'm glad I read this, even though I didn't love it. And I'm going to keep it around, because it means a lot to me as a project. I really spend quite a lot of time thinking about the problem of fictionalizing nonfiction. My favorite format is fi
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Philippa
Jessica Francis Kane has managed a remarkable feat.

The tragic accident that occurred on 3rd March 1943 when 173 ordinary civilians lost their lives trying to enter Bethnal Green air raid shelter is one of the least acknowledged and known tragedies of World War Two. As a self confessed history lover I have researched lots of aspects of World War Two and its impact on life in the UK. Indeed, there are countless books focussing purely on the Blitz and wartime London but even these tend to overlook
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Jeffrey
Good but should be great...

No, it does not merit the rave reviews. But it is a competent book that ( oh, and here I go AGAIN) if an agent or publisher's editor had taken the time to point out the flaws...could have been great.

The tube disaster is not unknown...there are documentaries...but it is fertile and moving ground for a novel about East End life and a world now gone.

No..we don't get this...yet again we get one of these first person, present and past to and fro books ( publishers PLEASE. M
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Amy
I first heard about The Report when Jessica Francis Kane was interviewed on the radio, which was also the first time I had heard about the Bethnal Green tragedy; a crush which killed almost 200 people on a night where there wasn't a single bomb dropped on London. My Dad, who is really interested in WWII, bought the book and read it in about two days; and I too raced through it surprisingly quickly.

Essentially, The Report is split in two; bouncing between 1943 and 1973. In 1973, Paul Barber, a yo
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Michael Moseley
Bethnal Green wartime 1943 there was a ban on wartime weather forecasts. Some of the images from this book are horrific; there was a painting of a woman who had been blown into a tree by a bomb blast. The shrapnel from anti aircraft guns killed more than the bombers? Large poles where placed in all the parks to stop German aircraft from landing. The report following the accident was written by Laurence Dume worth following up about him. Ada had two children Emma and lily she could be labelled as ...more
CuteBadger
This novel is inspired by the wartime disaster at Bethnal Green tube station when 173 people died and many were injured in a crush to get down the steps to safety during an air raid. The book looks at what happened through the stories of a family caught up in the disaster, people affected by it, the individual carrying out an enquiry into its causes and, some years later, a documentary maker researching a TV programme on the events.

This is a short novel, very simply written, which takes the read
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Lisa Eckstein
I read this book in two days, unusually quickly for me. I had some other things I was supposed to be doing during those two days, but once I began reading this book, I had to neglect everything else in order to get to the end of the story.

THE REPORT is a mystery, in a way. Early in the novel, a tragedy takes place. It's a real event that occurred during World War II: As residents in a London neighborhood entered a Tube station air raid shelter, a sudden crush of bodies led to 173 deaths. Kane le
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Richard Tran
I received this book from a Goodreads giveaway. I always enjoy material based in the WW2 era but this book was a little different as it doesn't really deal with anything on the war front.

This story alternates between two different timelines: one based in 1943 and one that occurs about 30 years later. It goes into an accident at a bomb shelter in London and deals with the aftermath and investigation that occurs.

What's surprising is that the accident occurs fairly early in the book which would m
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Anne
It was not until I was sent a copy of The Report by Jessica Francis Kane via the Amazon Vine programme that I became aware of the terrible disaster that happened at Bethnal Green Tube Station in March 1943. The station was being used as an air-raid shelter and that night 173 people were crushed to death as they were making their way down to the shelter.

Jessica Francis Kane's The Report is her fictional version of the events of that night, and of the following inquiry carried out by local magistr
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Helen Stower
This is a great story of a tragic event in London during WW2 when 170 people were killed in a crush while entering an air raid shelter. This book is a fictional version of this real-life event.

The author displays wonderful insight into human nature as she unravels the events of the evening by following magistrate, Laurence Dunne's public enquiry into the event. Throughout the enquiry, we are introduced the many people involved on that terrible evening & we can identify with each of them.

Kan
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Jeff
Read this book from start to finish on the plane. A beautifully written distraction from the 4 hrs with seat belt sign on, 1 hr of screaming baby and 30 minutes of wretching two rows back. Dude next to me literally had his fingers in his ears when baby and wretching got going at the same time as we landed. I was absorbed in this book. Reminded me a little of the Kite Runner which I similarly absorbed on a plane ride. Most fun when you think it is entirely based on reality and somewhat disappoint ...more
Derek
I had given up on the novel I was reading previous to this one. As such, I carried my disappointment over to the beginning of this book, and my hopes were not high. I was proven wrong. Yes, I admit it. I was wrong. "The Report" by Ms. Kane, was a wonderfully-woven story. The plot carried itself right along and I enjoyed the focus on the persons of the story. It brought back the tragedy of Bethnal Green in a tasteful manner. I'd highly recommend this book if you enjoy historical fiction, or those ...more
Michael Farringdon
Excellent. Firstly, a very Good Read. An 'unputdownable' book. As one who was seven at the time of the events, 1943, and living only about 16 miles away, the tragedy around which this novel is based was completely unknown to me. Yet I was an avid listener to the news on the 'wireless' and followed it in the newspapers. Nothing new in that: governments like to suppress bad news. The characters were well drawn and rounded, with human faults and one could empathise with them. Looking forward to her ...more
Ellie
For anybody with an interest in the lives of those on the Homefront during WW2 this may be of interest. Based on the tube shelter tragedy at Bethnal Green, Kane tells the story through the eyes of characters who experienced it, some of which were part of the crush, those who witnessed it, and those who were involved in the days and years after.
Whilst not much is said to describe the characters themselves somehow we get to know them as we read.
It wasn't the easiest book to get into and I almost g
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Meave
This is a tough read. It's superb, clear and perfectly paced and told so, so well, but it begins with a wide-angle look at a horrible accident, then focuses on its effects on individuals, and the emotional pain is relentless.

Really, it's splendid; JFK is supremely talented, and she has complete mastery over her work. Her characters are full of life, and she reveals their personal tragedies without making them pathetic or two-dimensional. It's a small novel, but it feels enormous.
Maureen
I love the fresh concept of this book--a novel that delves into the reasons for a terrible civilian accident that really occurred in England during WWII. The descriptions of war-time life and tragedy felt very timely. The novel offers wonderful insights on tragedy, our desire for blame, the unintended consequences of our small actions, redemption. Kane weaves a powerful and compelling story. Everyone should read this book.
Tim the fotoguy
This book was an interesting mix of fact and fiction. There was just enough author creativity to make the subject, the tragedy and senseless loss inside a London suburbs undergound/tube turned bomb shelter. I was motivated to investigate the factual information after reading this book and "seeing" the event through a different pair of eyes and emotions. Well done Ms. Kane.
Lisa
This is an extremely well written story. I had not heard of the Bethnal Green civilian disaster before. I was easily drawn into the story following the different characters both then and now. For me this was a real page turner.
Jhoanna
Little gem of a book. Beautifully written and "un-put-down-able." I actually teared up on the subway, that's how affecting the story is. I read a library copy, so I need to get my own copy so I can dissect how she does it.
Megan Jones
When I first heard about this book I was very excited to read it however when I did read it I was gravely disappointing. As some other reviewers have said this is written like a report, it is extremely bitty and the chapters only ever just get going before they end and then another dreary chapter starts. I never felt a connection with either the book or the characters as you never really get to know them and there is certainly nothing gripping about this book, I only completed this book because ...more
Melyssa
I first heard of this book from a list of great books that were overlooked in 2010. I am glad it was recommended because I really enjoyed it. The book has elements of historical fiction and mystery.
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JESSICA FRANCIS KANE is the author of The Report (Graywolf, 2010), a finalist for the 2010 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize from the Center for Fiction and a Barnes & Noble "Discover" pick. She is also the author of the story collection Bending Heaven (Counterpoint, 2002), which was published in the US and the UK. Her stories have been broadcast on BBC radio and have appeared in many publicat ...more
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