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The Decision

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  100 ratings  ·  34 reviews
This intriguing novel follows German author Thomas Mann during three crucial days in 1936. Away in Switzerland and fearing arrest by the Nazis upon his return to Germany, Mann must choose whether to travel back to Munich. He decides to release an open letter to the regime in a Swiss newspaper but is then tortured by doubt: his Jewish publisher in Germany will be furious wi ...more
Hardcover, 220 pages
Published January 15th 2016 by Haus Publishing (first published August 21st 2013)
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Dec 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Choosing Sides Artfully

This is a beautifully written (and translated) book. The epigraph from Wittgenstein is precisely apt for the book as well as for Thomas Mann: "ethics and esthetics are one."

For Mann, good art verged on the criminal. Its purpose is to expose reality, particularly to expose hypocrisy and the rationalisation of power. But Mann was an artist not a zealot (less like Nabokov, more like Prokofiev). He found the hypocrite and the abuser of power vulgar not merely dang
Aug 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Het boek beslaat een paar dagen in het leven van Thomas Mann, waarin hij een zware beslissing moet nemen of hij een brief laat publiceren waarin hij zijn standpunten uiteenzet hoe hij de opkomst van Hitler en het nazisme, kortom de radicale omwenteling van het politieke klimaat in Duitsland, ervaart en afkeurt. Het is 1936 en Thomas Mann heeft al een paar jaar zijn toevlucht moeten nemen in Zwitserland. Wanneer deze brief zal worden gepubliceerd, zal het Duitse vaderland voor hem definitief gesl ...more
Nov 03, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lisa by: Stujallen
The Decision by German-born author Britta Böhler is a book that I discovered last year when Stu reviewed it at Winston’s Dad – and I bought it as a companion to Summer before the Dark by Volker Viedermann (also reviewed by Stu) because they share the same theme.  They’re about famous Jewish authors confronting the perils of Nazi Germany… The works of those authors-in-exile were all exponents is called Exilliteratur, literature written in German by those who opposed or fled the Hitler regime.
The Decision is a fictionalised account of/>The
Sophie VersTand
Sep 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wie sehr hat dieses Buch meine Thomas-Mann-Begeisterung wieder angesteckt! Der Roman schildert drei Tage des Abwägens, Zweifelns 1936 kurz bevor Mann sein Urteil über den Nationalsozialismus in Deutschland in Briefform fällen wird.
Wozu noch schreiben? Wozu den Körper mit Nahrung versorgen? Warum sich nicht dem Alter beugen und die anderen urteilen lassen?
Mit großer Genauigkeit werden hier kleinste Regungen und Emotionen Thomas Manns fiktiv aufgearbeitet. Es wird sowohl das fast asper

I recently got hold of a few books by Thomas Mann, one being a nice 1930 edition of Der Tod in Venedig / Death in Venice , which I’m going to read shortly.
Before that, however, I wanted to learn a little more about the man himself, because my knowledge of Thomas Mann and the whole Mann-clan is rather limited.

Therefore, this book seemed just right. It accompanies the famous author–fictionally–during three days in January/February of 1936. At this time Thomas Mann lives in Swiss exile together with his wife Katia and their younger ch
Feb 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 21st-century-lit
Aan mijn wand met Nederlandse literatuur staat de roman ‘De beslissing’ van Britta Böhler (gemakshalve reken ik deze tot de NL lit.) naast werk van Menno ter Braak. In twee stappen bereiken we een minder toevallige connectie. Ter Braak knoopte een literair-vriendschappelijke relatie aan met Thomas Mann, en Thomas Mann is de hoofdpersoon van ‘De beslissing’.
Mijn kleine beslissing onlangs ‘De beslissing’ aan te schaffen, over de grote beslissing van Thomas Mann, heeft mij bij het lezen grote
Catherine Davison
Jan 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a skilfully written novella, Böhler manages to adopt the same cadence and tone of Mann himself in her writing about him. It’s intriguing how a short book which covers only a span of three days can cover so much. The reader is introduced to the moral and ethical considerations Mann must have worked through as he took his fate into his own hands. Böhler just drops the reader right into the story with no compromise, there are no extraneous explanations as to who the people named are. This i ...more
May 31, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook
Non ho interrotto la lettura di questo noiosissimo libro solo perché speravo fosse, infine, riportata integralmente la benedetta lettera di j'accuse al Nazismo. Invano. Mi sono sorbita inezie della vita altoborghese di Thomas Mann - che non ci fa, in queste pagine, una bellissima figura - tutto attento alla casa dell'eslio, sempre a rimpiangere i suoi mobili, il suo giardino di Monaco di Baviera (e qui già lo comprendo), un querulo anzianotto signore che non fa che lamentarsi di tutto: i sigari, i panin ...more
Jaclyn (sixminutesforme)
Sep 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Conceptually, I found the premise of this novel fascinating.

We follow German novelist Thomas Mann over three days in 1936 as he deliberates whether to denounce the Nazi regime in the Swiss press. What follows is an intricate and expertly researched character study of Mann, an immersive dip into his incredibly conflicted thought process. I found the attention to the smallest details and the sharp, almost minimalist, sentence structure made this feel like I was reading excerpts from historical do
Feb 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
n de beslissing beschrijft Böhler het moeilijke dilemma van Thomas Mann om openlijk stelling te nemen tegen het regime in Duitsland. Hij schrijft een open brief met zijn standpunten. Geeft deze af op de redactie van de Neue Züricher Zeitung met het verzoek deze te plaatsen.

Maar hij heeft ook twijfels, angst om zijn Duitse lezers kwijt te raken. Zijn nationaliteit staat op het spel. Zijn huis en inboedel zijn geconfisqueerd. Juist aan dat huis heeft hij heel veel herinneringen. Belt de andere da
Nov 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nederlands
Een mooi gecomponeerde roman waarin Thomas Mann de hoofdpersoon is. Je komt veel te weten over Mann; de auteur heeft overduidelijk enorm veel achtergrondkennis. Ook over andere bepalende figuren zoals Wagner, Heinrich Mann, Herman Hesse. De absurditeit van wat zich voltrok in die jaren (1933 - 1936) in Duitsland wordt voelbaar. In beheerst proza zonder tierelantijnen laat Böhler Mann twijfelen over zijn beslissing: openlijk afstand nemen van Hitlers nazi-Duitsland, en voert de roman naar het log ...more
Mar 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Schon nach wenigen Seiten habe ich festgestellt, dass die Autorin sich sehr viel mit Thomas Mann beschäftigt. Der Roman erzählt von drei wichtigen Tagen im Leben von Thomas Mann und Britta Böhler hat sehr viel über ihn, seine Ängste und sein Leben hineingepackt - und das auf nur knapp über 200 Seiten.
Ein Kritiker hat beanstandet, dass nicht noch ein neues Buch über den Zauberer nötig sei. Meiner Meinung nach, ist dieses Buch nötig. Für Thomas Mann-Liebhaber gehört es in die Sammlung und wer ihn
Jan 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel-the-world
A truly beautiful story of Thomas Mann's decision to part with Germany after Hitler's rise to power. He loved Germany and language, the power of words, and truly hated the idea of leaving Germany behind. He debated long about what his response to the new Reich should be. He wrote a letter and the question was whether to let it be published or not.

As an aside, as I was reading this, I kept thinking of Stefan Zweig, an Austrian, because he too left his country when he what was happening in German
Mar 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bellissimo leggere ancora di Mann, scoprirlo nel quotidiano della sua vita in esilio volontario in Svizzera. Ritrovare i suoi timori e le sue tristezze già lette nelle Lettere (Meridiani Mondadori). Molto ben raccontati il suo tormento e le sue incertezze prima di arrivare alla definitiva decisione.

Oct 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013, literatuur
Mooie novelle over 3 dagen uit het leven van Thomas Mann waarin hij worstelt met een voor hem groot, betekenisvol dilemma. Als vanzelfsprekend volgen we zijn gedachtengang tijdens de dagelijkse bezigheden, waarbij wij hem en zijn leven stapsgewijs beter leten kennen. Knap gedaan!
Mar 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a novel about a critical period in the life of Thomas Mann. Very well written and utterly convincing. It felt like walking beside Mann, exiled and homesick, while listening to his inner thoughts, doubts and insecurities.
May 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wwi-ii, nederlands
Boeiend en inspirerend om meer boeken van Thomas Mann te gaan lezen.
Sep 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016, in-translation
Jan 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A fascinating, in-depth look at the mindset of a man who felt torn by historic circumstances and then took the courageous and not obvious step of speaking out against evil even at its banal beginnings and even at great personal cost.
The most meaningful aspects of the book for me were, first, that it was an exercise in restraining myself from applying the benefit of hindsight to the decision-making process of a person in the midst of events; and second, my admiration for Mann's wisdom in ap
Marvelous novel about Thomas Mann's final decision to give up on Germany in 1936. Mann had already fallen afoul of the Nazis, and realized that his exile would become permanent. Much musing over Wagner, his Joseph novels (the third of which he was then writing) and the first inklings of Doktor Faustus. Intense book which I just read in a single snowed in afternoon!
Veerle Roets
Sep 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Knap boek en wat een inleving in de geest van Thomas Mann!
Jun 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ein sehr ruhiges, mit feiner Hand und Sprache geschaffenes Buch.
Kay Sachse
Was bewegte Thomas Mann, sich 1936 (endlich) gegen die Nazis auszusprechen? Dieses Buch versucht, eine recht gelungene Antwort auf diese Frage zu geben.
"Uffa, che barba che noia, lasciatemi scrivere e tornare in Germania, sì, spaccano i vetri e fanno casino, ma perché devo dirlo anch'io?" (T. Mann)

Il mio problema con questi libri è che non so mai quanto siano fedeli alla "storia" (memoriali, lettere, etc.) e quanto improvvisino.
In questo caso dice che Mann ci pensa, ci ha pensato, ci ha ripensato, ha cambiato idea tutte le volte che ha portato fuori il cane (cane esigente per le passeggiate peraltro), che ha cambiato idea quando la
Dutch translation [2013] of the German book Die Entscheidung, 2013

Thomas Mann is the main character and the author [see a lot about her in goodreaders' reviews] draws on Mann's journals to give us insight into his past and present. As I know nearly nothing about Mann, this book helps give me some context, invites me to read some of his own work.

I love the way all the little details the author includes in these Three Days in the Life of...
Here is a ma
Huib Riethof
Dec 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Het dilemma van de verworpen cultuurpaus, zeer groot schrijver. De Buddenbrooks, de Zauberberg en de Tod in Venedig reiken bijna naar een Goethe. Maar niet helemaal.
En dan meemaken wat wij Nederlandse cultuurdragers ook nu meemaken: Een Angst- und Hass-betauebte Massa die al onze waarden vertrapt en klaar lijkt voor de klammheimlich aangekondigde voorjaarspogrom...
Een emigrante naar Nederland uit de "Bleierne Zeit" leeft zich in in de dilemma's van de unieke familie Mann aan het eind van
Sep 05, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novella
Britta Böhler is een Nederlandse advocate van Duitse afkomst. Ze studeerde rechten, filosofie en politieke wetenschappen, speelde een rol in enkele spraakmakende rechtszaken (ze verdedigde o.a. PKK-leider Öcalan, de moordenaar van Pim Fortuyn en leden van de Hofstadgroep, trad trad op voor Ayaan Hirsi Ali, was 2007 tot 2011 lid van de Eerste Kamer, en sinds 2012 is ze bijzonder hoogleraar Advocatuur aan de Universiteit van Amsterdam. Maar of dat alles volstaat om ook nog een goede roman (novelle ...more
An interesting blend of fact/fiction that makes you feel as though you are there with Thomas Mann over three days, with wife & family in a rented house outside Zurich, as he takes the momentous decision whether to publish a letter denouncing Hitler's regime, a bit like one of those popular drama-documentaries trying to make history more approachable through re-enactment and dressing-up.

Böhler does a good job getting inside Mann's thought processes and emotions, and brings to life the normal
Jul 05, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dutch
Heeft me niet kunnen bekoren. Mijnheer Mann blijkt een oude zemelaar van wie wij een dag lang de gedachten en bezigheden volgen.
Die brief aan de eindredactie is interessant, maar uiteindelijk zijn er meer gedachten besteed aan wat te lezen, eten en drinken, dan aan de brief. Zoals zijn dochter en vrouw weinig begrip op kunnen brengen voor zijn getalm, kan ik dat ook niet. Heb het uitgelezen omdat het een dun boekje is.
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Britta Böhler is a German-born author, booktuber and former law professor. She writes literary fiction, non fiction and crime novels and lives in Amsterdam and Cologne. On her booktube channel, The Second Shelf, she talks about books, reading and writing.

In 2013 she published her first novel (Britta Böhler is a German-born author, booktuber and former law professor. She writes literary fiction, non fiction and crime novels and lives in Amsterdam and Cologne. On her booktube channel, The Second Shelf, she talks about books, reading and writing.

In 2013 she published her first novel (The Decision), a fictional account of three crucial days in the life of Thomas Mann. Written in German, (Der Brief des Zauberers, Aufbau Verlag), the novel has been translated into eight languages, including Dutch (De beslissing), French, Italian, Greek, Hebrew, Danish, Turkish and English (The Decision, Haus Publishing). Her latest non fiction book, The Good Lawyer (De goede advocaat), was published in The Netherlands in May 2017. She is currently working on her second novel.

Together with author Rodney Bolt she also writes crime fiction under the pen name BRITTA BOLT. The Posthumus Mysteries are available in Dutch (Heldhaftig / Vastberaden / Barmhartig), English (Lonely Graves / Lives Lost / Deadly Secrets) and German (Das Büro der einsamen Toten / Das Haus der verlorenen Seelen and Der Tote mit dem falschen Mantel, February 2017).

In the past, Britta worked as a lawyer in Amsterdam where she had her own law firm. Her clients included PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, the politician Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and the young man who assassinated the Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn.
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