Terry's Reviews > Every Man Dies Alone

Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada
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Jul 19, 2011

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You can tell by the title, "Every Man Dies Alone" (1947) that this is not a lighthearted farce and boy, it is not! It's about German resisters to Nazis during WWII. I expected heroics, perhaps a bit like "Inglourious Basterds," but "Every Man Dies Alone" is about a very different sort of heroics. The resisters in this novel are ordinary citizens, not elites; they're minor actors taking completely ineffectual actions. It may be heroism, but no one notices but the characters themselves. Unlike "Inglourious Basterds, "Every Man Dies Alone" is based on a true, if very obscure case. The real-life and fictional resisters of "Every Man Dies Alone" pay for their actions with their lives. The message is that resistance isn't always about grand actions; it's also about retaining your own self-respect and sense of decency through small actions. I guess it's a little like what some of us do when we decline to vote for "lesser evil" candidates or when we choose to speak up rather than stay silent when we hear people saying something objectionable. For me, the payoff for this overly long and very low-key book was greater empathy and understanding for the German people -- like any of us in any nation, we don't all go along with the party line, even if our resistance is invisible or ineffective.
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message 1: by Sheehan (new)

Sheehan Great review, you have piqued my interest in a book I likely would have never considered on my own exploration. I'm fascinated with the idea of infrapolitics and the subtle subterfuges that people engage in to resist oppressions and affirm worldviews, looks like I might have to check Fallada's book out.


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