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Flight From Berlin

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  598 Ratings  ·  134 Reviews
A cynical English reporter and a beautiful, headstrong, American Olympic hopeful are caught in a lethal game of international espionage during the 1936 Berlin Olympics in Flight from Berlin, a riveting debut thriller from breakout novelist David John. Combining the suspense and atmosphere of Alan Furst’s spy novels with the exciting narrative drive of Daniel Silva’s Gabrie ...more
Hardcover, 372 pages
Published July 10th 2012 by Harper (first published July 1st 2012)
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Rating details
Sort: Default
May 20, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
This book deserves 3.5 stars, and for the purposes of Goodreads, I’ll round down my overall rating to 3 stars, since it’s hard for me to say I really liked this book. I should also point out that I have a mixed reaction to historical fiction. History was one of my least favorite subjects throughout school, so I’ve never been a big history buff, by any stretch of the imagination. But I did enjoy this book enough to say that I’m a little above a like with my rating, so I tip my fedora at David Joh ...more
Jun 02, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads

I was chosen to receive this book for free through Goodreads First Reads. Thank You!

(Notification received 05/20/2012; Book received 05/31/2012)

Sometimes commenting on books is difficult. I really liked this story. However, this book loses one star for content. After a few days of thought, I have decided to give this a 3-star rating.

Let me start with what I enjoyed. The author did a good job of keeping me engaged. There were moments I asked, “How in the world is the author going to reconcile thi
Maurice J
Aug 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed this story.

Another book with the 1936 Berlin Olympics as the backdrop, it was a quick and fun read.

The protagonist is a socialite woman athlete who enjoys her champagne and partying so much she gets thrown off the team before the ship upon which the U.S. team is traveling even lands in Europe and gets to Berlin.

Through a friend she gets reporter accreditation and covers the games.

The title reflects the efforts of a great female German Jewish athlete to escape with her family
A fast paced fact/fiction thriller set in post-war Germany at the time of the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games. British journalist Richard Denham who lives and works in Germany is accidentally drawn into a plot to discredit Adolf Hitler in the eyes of the world. Denham is decidedly anti-Nazi and his articles in various newspaper and magazines are decidedly frowned upon by the authorities. He meets up with Olympic swimmer Eleanor Emerson who has been thrown out of the USA team for her outrageous (in the ...more
Jun 04, 2012 rated it liked it
While I enjoyed reading Flight from Berlin, there were a few issues that nagged at me for the duration. The 1936 Berlin Olympics is a rich and intriquing set piece for a novel that rightly reminds us of the horrors of Nazi Germany. While I believe David John treated the topic with respect, there are too many elements of plot and character that mimic that British "boys own adventure stories" kind of writing popular in the mid-1900's. I found myself wanting an edgier, cleaner story with a more bel ...more
Berlin, 1936. The Olympics are underway and all eyes are on Hitler’s Germany. The Nazi propaganda machine has hidden its brutality from view, but there are those who still recognise the veiled terror. Eleanor Emerson, expelled from the US swim team, meets up with Richard Denham, a British journalist. Together, they learn that Berlin is center stage for more than just the Olympics. They find themselves in the middle of a very different kind of game, this one between the Gestapo and The British Se ...more
nomadreader (Carrie D-L)
(review from

My thoughts: I'm a huge fan of the Olympics, and reading about the stories 1936 Olympics was quite intriguing. The opening pages of the novel were fascinating. I was instantly drawn to Eleanor and her feistiness. Granted, her dialogue was sometimes heavy-handed, but it worked for her:

"The fastest man on earth is on board this ship,’ she said, interrupting Helen, ‘and he’s a Negro. He’s going to win gold in Berlin in front of the whole world. Don’t you
Ronald Roseborough
A fascinating story set in Germany during the years leading up to World War II. Bounded by the spectacle of the 1936 Olympic games, the beauty and grandeur of the Hindenburg zeppelin, and the horror of the plight of the Jewish people trapped in Germany. Hitler and the Nazi regime intended to use the Olympics for propaganda purposes. They hoped to show the supposed superiority of the Germans, while hiding from the world the truth about the the regime's atrocities. The author mixes into this the s ...more
Patrick SG
Jan 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
I read another book last year set in the 1936 Olympics and felt this might be a similar tale, yet I was wrong. The author fills his story with a host of real and almost real characters from that pre-war event. There are, of course, the famous ones like Hitler and Jesse Owens (whose role is very small in the book), as well as those not so famous. Among these are Paul Gallico, newspaperman and sportswriter, who would later be known as the author of "The Poseidon Adventure," and Martha Dodd, daught ...more
Tara Chevrestt
A fascinating WWII book, with major points for being unique and standing out as far as characters/plot in a genre in which most everything has been done to death.

I was sucked in asap by the tidbits and sideline story involving the Hindenburg. I had to Google it and look at pictures. The drama behind the 1936 Olympic games was equally fascinating. And then...oh, my goodness, we've got Richard, a British reporter, getting imprisoned and assaulted for a dossier that he doesn't have.

When his hands d
May 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
This a book I won through Goodreads.

Author David John produces a worthy first novel. This action-thriller is set in pre-war Nazi Germany spanning two historic events of the era. Even though primary character, Richard Denham, is fictitious there other characters in the story are real people fictitiously portrayed. Flight from Berlin is a story about a fallen American swimmer, Eleanor, and a jaded British journalist brought together by the Berlin Olympics. Both learn how brutal the Nazi regime is
Jul 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book was the first one I picked up based on a Goodreads recommendation. I am a fan of historical fiction, especially WWII and the German influence (I was a German major in college and studied abroad for 6 months). I felt like the book was set up well and had 3 distinct parts. The main characters, Eleanor and Richard, were likeable and engaging. I found myself reading when I could throughout the day today just to finish it as part 3 (including the ending) really built up well and had a lot o ...more
Karen Gail Brown
May 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is a book that I won, and it is excellent. Many of the characters are introduced on the ship Manhattan that is taking the Olympic participants to Berlin. One of the participants gets expelled from competing because of her behavior, but stays on as a columnist covering the games. She (Eleanor)and another reporter (Denham) become involved in aiding and reporting the cruelty of the Nazi regime toward the Jewish athletes and most particularly Hannah, a German fencer. Hannah is the only Jew on t ...more
Apr 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I won this book in a goodreads giveaway. This book was really interesting, it starts with the Olympics in Berlin in 1936 and turns into a story of intrigue. Spies, reporters and double agents. A fantastic read that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Dec 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nook-book
intriguing enough for me not to want the book to end
Rob Kitchin
Feb 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Flight from Berlin is set around the 1936 Olympics and follows the escapade of American athlete and socialite, Eleanor Emerson, and British journalist, Richard Denham, as they tangle with the Nazi regime. Emerson is loosely based on Eleanor Holm, the US swimmer who was thrown off the US team for partying on the journey to the games. Another central character, Hannah Liebermann, is based on Helene Mayer, who was the only ‘non-Aryan’ to compete for Germany. Numerous other real-life characters popu ...more
Glenn Short
Sep 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I decided to read this book after reading the author's collaboration with a North Korean defector in the telling of her story. I enjoyed that book for the same reason I enjoyed this one. The action is consistent enough to keep me engaged. The historical figures keep the story real. I do love history.
Jul 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic historic fiction...

This is a fast-paced, suspenseful book that weaves historic figures and circumstances cleverly to make a very enjoyable story. I really enjoy this author and can't wait for his next book!
Margaret Goodlin
Mar 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was an interesting book, not good enough to rate 5 stars, though. Set just prior to the time of WWII, set in Germany and involving reporters, spies, and a very convoluted plot. I enjoyed reading it but it's not the best thing I ever read by any means.
Katie/Doing Dewey
Jul 11, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: giveaway
Starting during the 1936 Berlin Olympics and taking place just pre-WWII, Flight From Berlin is a fascinating look at a pivotal time period as the world decides how to react to Nazi Germany. Almost by chance, an English reporter and a beautiful American athlete-turned-reporter receive information which could effect the outcome of that decision. They also become personally involved with a Jewish family who they hope to help escape.

There were parts of this book I liked a lot and parts I really didn
Jul 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
I did like this book, I liked the amount of detail that went into researching the '36 Games and what it was like to be in Germany during this time. When a HF author includes details like that, I always appreciate it more than when they try and make shit up. Although the characters in this book are all fictitious, they were based on real people, who were Olympians.

The book wasn't hard to get into and all in all was a very simple read. I liked that Eleanor was so independent during a time when wom
Aug 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Europe during the rise of Nazi power has long captured our collective imaginations. In Flight from Berlin, David John takes us to Nazi Germany during the 1936 Olympics. The story unfolds from the points of view of two unlikely heroes, British journalist Richard Denham and privileged Olympic athlete Eleanor Emerson.

Richard Denham is a British journalist living in Berlin well acquainted with the changes in Germany. During a reporting assignment about travel on the Hindenburg, Denham meets Friedri
May 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
Flight from Berlin has a very interesting concept. I wouldn't have thought of it from all the rumors that have went on about Hilter. From my public education, Hilter believed he is the Messiah when he survived a bomb blasted. He also started hating Jews after his mother was mistreated by one. There were also rumors that Hilter was a Jew and that was reason enough for the SS to try to killed him. The story revolved around the mystery, at a point, when there is not much information between the tim ...more
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
If wishes were horses, beggars would ride for free, says my wife when I'm sighing about something, and she lobbed this one at me recently when I started sighing about this book. I went something like, 'I wish this book would...' -- which unfortunately is a feeling that stayed with me the entire time I was reading.

In this Olympic season, John's novel is particularly timely and I was pretty eager to start it. I'm fascinated by the 1936 Olympics and the pageantry, lies, and horrors involved, and so
May 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
This book presents a frightening picture of life in Germany in 1936 as seen through the eyes of two foreigners: Richard and Eleanor. Through their stories, the reader is caught up in the tension and paranoia of dissenters in the midst of the fervor of the true believers in all that Hitler advocates. In an atmosphere in which truth is what the propagandists say it is, they struggle to let the world know what evil they see. Not surprisingly, this puts them in danger.

Richard is a British newsman in
May 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, own, vine, first-reads
John has done a fantastic job of tying together different facets of history into this thrilling historical novel. From the controversial 1936 Berlin Olympics under the Nazi regime to the Hindenburg disaster, events are seamlessly integrated through the actions of the characters. When Olympic swimmer Eleanor Emerson is thrown off the US team for partying too much, she hooks up with British reporter Richard Denham. Once they join forces, they learn of the coercion of a German athlete, Jewish fence ...more
James Korsmo
May 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
David John's first novel is quite an offering, and I was captivated from the start. The reader is drawn into a world of intrigue and mystery in Nazi Berlin. Eleanor is an American swimmer on her way to compete in her second Olympics. Richard is a British journalist who is a bit too outspoken in his criticism of Hitler and the Nazi party. Their lives intertwine as they encounter an attempted cover-up of the forced participation of a Jewish fencer on the German team(but also threatened consequence ...more
Evanston Public  Library
Set in volatile Germany of the 1930's, John's notable debut novel offers an exciting blend of sports history (1936 Berlin Olympics), the oppressive force of Nazi anti-Semitism, a little romance, and the transatlantic journey of the Hindenburg. I liked the lively personality of Eleanor Emerson, an American Olympic swimmer who becomes involved with Richard Denham, a British reporter who refuses to ignore the plight of a Jewish family.

Hannah Lieberman, an Olympic fencer, and her family provide a mi
Melanie Coombes
May 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Great thriller, detective novel involving a somewhat spoiled American heroine who joins forces with a foreign correspondent as they tangle with the Gestapo and British spies at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Gold medal-winning swimmer Eleanor Emerson is dismissed from the U.S. team before the ship even reaches Germany due to drinking and partying on board. Fortunately, due to her connections, she gets a job covering the Olympics as a journalist. Eventually, she meets British journalist Richard Denham.
Kelly Knapp
Jun 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: conspiracy buffs, history buffs, WWII enthusiast, etc
Recommended to Kelly by: Goodreads First Reads giveaway
This was an amazing novel. Inspired by real people and events, yet a fictional story, John has given events surrounding the 1936 olympics and the ultimate rise of the Furer a new life. He creates a powerful mystery surrounding secret documents giving background on Hitler.

John's characters are intense and multifaceted. they seek adventure but are not entirely prepared for the outcome. But perhaps the best of all is the way the author has taken various individual real events and connected them tog
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