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All That I Am

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  8,325 ratings  ·  1,109 reviews
All That I Am is a masterful and exhilarating exploration of bravery and betrayal, of the risks and sacrifices some people make for their beliefs, and of heroism hidden in the most unexpected places.

When eighteen-year-old Ruth Becker visits her cousin Dora in Munich in 1923, she meets the love of her life, the dashing young journalist Hans Wesemann, and eagerly joins in th
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published February 7th 2012 by Harper (first published August 29th 2011)
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Average rating 3.80  · 
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 ·  8,325 ratings  ·  1,109 reviews

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Violet wells
May 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
My story “is reconstructed from fossil fragments, much as you might draw skin and feathers over an assembly of dinosaur bones, to fully see the beast."

So says Ann Funder in the afterword of her novel. I’m not sure it matters if you read this novel as pure fiction or fictionalised biography. I went into this book knowing nothing about the real life characters portrayed and found it worked equally well as elegant literary fiction and page turning thriller.

All That I Am is about a group of German
Sep 02, 2019 rated it it was ok
A book where the characters and the plot lacked and the constant time-shifts became more irritating as the book went on. This is a story based on mostly real characters and while I was a little interested in their lives the structure of the story was poor and quite frustrating to read.

This should have been my perfect fit but lacked on quite a few levels for me. The characters didn't feel real even though its based on real people and I think this for me was down to the author fictionalising conv
Oct 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"None of us - teacher or taught- realised how an imagined life can sustain you as a possibility, a hope, and remain just that. Like parallel train tracks, it runs alongside, but will never meet the life you are living."

This book took me absolutely ages to get into and I have no idea why. You know when you know a book is going to be good and the writing is fantastic and the story is brilliant but there is just something stopping you from tearing through it?
I think the main problem that I had was
Kate Forsyth
I am very ashamed to admit that I could not finish this book, the most awarded and lauded Australian book of 2012. And another AWW! Was I too tired? Am I too frivolous? Or was the book just too slow and self-aware for my tastes? It should have ticked all my boxes. Historical fiction - yay! Set in Nazi Germany - yay! About a brilliant, independent woman mostly forgotten by history - yay! I really, really wanted to love this book, but it just put me to sleep every night. I've left it on my bedside ...more
Apr 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The main effect this book had on me was a deep sense of my own lack of similar courage. I was moved almost to tears by the fate of Ruth Blatt/Becker, and the knowledge that this is basically a true story made it all the more gripping. This book is an excellent example of how best true stories can be converted into novels, without sacrificing either authenticity or readability. All too often I've seen obviously autobiography simply relabelled as "a novel", when in truth the writer has not made an ...more
Sep 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
This novel was a book club choice that I’d never heard of but which gave me some new and interesting insights into a period of German (and ultimately European) history that I knew little about, namely that leading up to World War II when the world was refusing to listen to German refugees who tried to warn everyone about the dangers of the new regime.

Most of the characters in the novel were real people at the time, and we hear the story from two characters’ points of view, Ruth and Toller, who
Chris Rose
Apr 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I feel somewhat ambivalent when recognising I’m in the process of reading a masterpiece – and make no mistake, Anna Funder’s All That I Am is a masterpiece. The reason for my ambivalence is because, although I'll begin to slow down, take my time with every page, to soak it up, to wallow, call it what you will, the book must still, eventually, come to an end. Just to reiterate: Anna Funder’s All That I Am is such a book.

There’s my own, personal story behind it, too. A couple of years ago, I was o
This is an important story, beautifully written, about selflessness, determination, intimacy, collaboration, separation, exile. Told in two voices, it's an interesting juxtaposition of times in history: Ruth's story with her cousin Dora told from the present day and Toller's story of his relationship with Dora told from New York in 1939.
Knowing all we know now, reading about the tense and frightening days when Hitler was new to power, and about the brave intellectuals and exiles who fought agai
I wanted to read this book before the Mile’s Franklin award for 2012 is announced as I’m predicting this book will win. All That I Am by Anna Funder is told from the perspective of Ruth Becker and Ernst Toller in alternate chapters. Both Ruth and Toller are remembering life in 1930’s Germany as political activists. Both characters, along with Ruth’s husband Hans and Toller’s lover Dora, publically speak out against Hitler and everything he stands for, advocating independence and freedom of speec ...more
Jul 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is the kind of historical fiction I so very much love. You learn history and at the same time feel the emotions of the people who live through the historical events. I would suggest reading Sebastian Barry’s A Long Long Way and then continuing with this book by Anna Funder. Barry’s book takes you to the trenches of Belgium during WW1. WW1 is the basis for what happens in Germany leading up to Hitler and WW2.The people who are the prime protagonists in Funder’s book lived through WW1 and wer ...more
I'm not going to give this a rating as that would be unfair based on how much of it I read.
However, it would be a 1 star rating for what I have read.

This book was totally not for me. I picked it for a reading challenge and because it was based in Germany.

Let me say, Ms Funder writes very nice. That isn't that problem with the book for me.

I had two main problems:

One: The changing from character to character and present to past per character was annoying for me. It was bad enough keeping track
Oct 01, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I purchased this book from my local bookstore a few months ago on the strength of the author’s name, having read and appreciated her non-fiction work, Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall, which, as its title indicates, is an account of life in the former East Germany.

This is Funder’s first novel and a most impressive piece of work. Although it is fiction, it deals with real people and real events; that is, the activities of German socialist activists who were expelled or who escaped
All That I Am is a story told by Ruth and Toller and their recollection of memories of a time as a political activist, in the 1930, before and during Hitler’s ruling. Joined with two other members, Hans and Dora, they risked their lives by speaking publically against Hitler and his policies, and warning people of their loss of rights, independence and freedom of speech should Hitler come to power. It was quite interesting to see Hitler’s reaction to the group, and the deceitful ways it took him ...more
This deserves 3 and a half. Not in the league of 'Stasiland' - she is on firmer ground with non-fiction and her emotional coolness suits that genre better. Having said that, she writes about an amazing period and real people who I have not heard of previously (feel quite ignorant). It follows the stories of several Germans in the 20s and 30s who were politically active against the Nazis. They are almost all real people - their individual stories are fascinating. I'm not sure that Funder is able ...more
The betrayal in this book was enough to make me feel sick. Ugh.

Four friends find their lives intertwined just before Hitler gains control of Germany. In a sense they were outlaws even before being outlawed from their country: young Jewish activists who were working to reveal what they saw Hitler's Nazis doing underground. They wrote articles, hosted rallies, wrote plays, gave speeches, but soon it was late. Some of them were jailed for speaking out, some forced to escape into exile, their famil
Angela Savage
When All That I Am by Anna Funder won the prestigious 2012 Miles Franklin Award, I decided it was time to see what all the fuss was about. What I discovered was a book to love as both a reader and a writer.

There are so many ideas, beautifully observed, that resonated for me in this book, which can stand alone and lose none of their power. Take this example:

"At least half of what we call hope, I believe, is simply the sense that something can be done."

And this:

"This vast life -- the real, interio
Sep 21, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ozzie-gems
All that i am is Anna Funders first foray into fiction and is a beautiful and enjoyable read. Based on real events and people the books explores the inner workings of the Nazi party and the lives of a number of brave souls who activly opposed them. The book begins with Hitlers coming to power and details the time leading up to world war II. Told through the viewpoints of Ruth Becker now living in Sydney in the present day and revolutionary and poet Ernst Toller who is writing his Memoirs in 1939 ...more
Diane S ☔
I love books that feature real life events and the people who figured prominently in them. The historical data and the characters in this book were fascinating, I just had a little trouble with the format. I appreciated that the book chapters were headed with the persons name, but within the chapters themselves the events were related into the past and the present. Different chapters also did this, back and forth and while I could keep track of what was happening when, it served as a distraction ...more
This novel tells the story of German Jewish leftists, who escaped Germany in the early 30's as the Nazis were rising to power. Little detail is given about their actual political beliefs as it seems the author's purpose was to illuminate this period and the precarious lives of refugees. In England they risked expulsion if they engaged in any political activity, and the British authorities ignored, for the most part, the growth of Nazism and the decline of democracy in 1930's Germany.
Mar 04, 2016 rated it liked it
I find the questions raised by the way certain authors (and critics) blur the boundaries between truth and fiction to be very interesting and very vexing. As an author of non-fiction, it is frustrating when my work is compared unfavourably with a work of fiction on the same subject. But I digress.
Anna Funder's 'All That I Am' is a work that is inspired by fact and is drawn from interviews and published works of the lives of a group of Jewish Germans who actively resisted the rise of Adolf Hitle
Mar 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
If you are looking for a truly incredible novel Anna Funder’s debut All That I Am is the perfect book for you. All That I Am is the story of a group of young, passionate pacifists that are forced out of Berlin when Hitler comes to power. The novel is told through flashbacks and in alternate voices. Ruth Becker is an old woman when the novel opens, and is being tormented by her past. Ernst Toller finds himself in exile in New York in 1939 as he recounts his time in Berlin. Both narrators had been ...more
Dov Zeller
Apr 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
I thought this book was great. It really brought me closer to a time period I am always wanting to get a deeper understanding and sense of. I felt very drawn into the world, attached to the characters, and I felt appropriately horrified by the atrocities and inspired by the courage of those who risked everything to try to shift the awful course of history. These were brutal and devastating times, but I think a lot of the battles that were being fought then are still being fought today in many wa ...more
Look, I did enjoy this, but mostly for its factual/historical content. You do feel like the characters are just there to deliver Funder's excellent (and fascinating) research. I'm not sue that the multiple perspectives and timeframes were that useful; it feels a bit first-novely in that regard. Funder is a very competent writer, and seems empathetic, but you don't *feel* much for anyone here.
Pam Jenoff
Nov 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite books of the past decade! An original and riveting story of courageous German exiles in Britain and a revelation into the Nazis' terrifying reach beyond Occupied Europe. For lovers of historical fiction, a hidden gem!
Apr 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.75 Stars

‘I am a vessel of memory in a world of forgetting.’

Those words haunted me throughout this book, as it examines the bright passion of individual lives that can be smothered by ruthless power or lost to history. The novel follows the confessions of Ruth Becker in early 2000s Sydney as she receives an edited manuscript from Ernst Toller written in 1939. The confessions focus upon the actions of a group of friends and fellow Socialist Workers Party members in Berlin, who suddenly find them
Simone Sinna
Sep 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
People far more eloquent than I have reviewed this book, and given it has already won prizes and is likely to win more, probably many more eloquent people will continue to review it. Given the range I read and write, it’s hard to give ‘numbers’ to books that are meaningful. If I was comparing this to similar books I would give it 4.5 out of 5, but that doesn’t mean I think it is less or indeed in any way comparable to ones in the romance genre I have given 5 out of 5.
I was reluctant to buy it in
Anna Funder, as one of her characters in her debut novel All That I Am, makes a cunning observation about authors using people that they know in their writing. Ernst Toller, (the left-wing activist playwright) is discussing with W.H. Auden (the poet) his reluctance to write about Dora Fabian in his autobiography. Fabian was his one-time lover and fellow-activist against Hitler and is the central character in the novel. (She was also a real person but she doesn’t have a Wikipedia page):

This is
Aug 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
I took this from my husband's stack when I was in search of something to read before a lengthy airplane trip. Judging it purely by its cover I wondered why my husband had purchased something that appeared to be both a beach read and pure chick lit. Nice surprise, it was neither chick lit nor a beach read.

Based on a number of real life historical figures who all lived during the 30s (and some beyond), the book describes the early days of Hitler's regime, as he takes over Germany and consolidates
If you're interested in anything to do with WWII or the Nazis then this is a book you should read. Written by a good friend of the one of the main characters; Ruth. This is a true story of some of the Germans who worked against the Nazis and Hitler, from outside of Germany as well as from within. I didn't know, and was surprised to learn, that the British government bent under the pressure from the Nazis that exiled Germans were not allowed to publish anything, they were constantly surveilled, f ...more
I enjoyed parts of this debut novel by Anna Funder, but the first part was more tedious than I had anticipated. It is told by 2 people - one in the present day (but often recalling earlier events) and one in 1939 (a time after most of the events of the book occurred, but still flashing back to the times of 6 years or less before). Based on a true story, it was interesting (and sad) to read some of the things that happened in pre-WWII London and the treatment of refugees by Britain (“Yes, you can ...more
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Anna Funder was born in Melbourne in 1966. She has worked as an international lawyer and a radio and television producer. Her book Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall, won the 2004 Samuel Johnson Prize. She lives in Sydney with her husband and family.

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