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The Kindly Ones

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  6,995 ratings  ·  954 reviews

Named one of the "100 Best Books of the Decade" by The Times of London

"Oh my human brothers, let me tell you how it happened."

A former Nazi officer, Dr. Maximilien Aue has reinvented himself, many years after the war, as a middle-class family man and factory owner in France. An intellectual steeped in philosophy, literature, and classical music, he is also a cold-

Hardcover, 984 pages
Published March 3rd 2009 by Harper (first published August 21st 2006)
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Héctor In my case I didn't know what to expect when I started the book and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I'd say it's a must read for anyone that enjoys…moreIn my case I didn't know what to expect when I started the book and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I'd say it's a must read for anyone that enjoys historical fiction set during WWII, however you must enjoy dark humor and a touch of surrealism.(less)
Andriy Resembles closely "Die Abenteuer des Werner Holt" (The Adventures of Werner Holt) by Dieter Noll.

Resembles closely "Die Abenteuer des Werner Holt" (The Adventures of Werner Holt) by Dieter Noll.

Unfortunately there is no English translation, but you must try if you know German.(less)

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Glenn Russell
Dec 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing

“Please, mein Herr, shoot the children cleanly.”
― Jonathan Littell, The Kindly Ones

Such a fiercely compelling novel, one of the most evil stories ever told. I had to listen to the audio book while taking my walks and let all the evil from the novel run down my legs and out the bottom of my feet; so much evil, thus my initial reluctance to write a review and highly recommend. However, the writing is excellent and the insights on human nature, history and culture numerous.

The first-person narrator
Mar 12, 2009 rated it it was ok
Lugging this gigantic book around, from Omaha to Minneapolis to Dubai to Chicago back to Omaha, I began to question why I was reading it. It's nearly a thousand pages long; it's poorly translated; it was apparently edited by a monkey dying of Ebola; it has paragraphs that run on for pages, and pages, and pages; for some reason, there is no indentation for dialogue, so you're left guessing which indistinguishable character is saying which facile/stilted/cliched/boring thing; the translation is im ...more
Violet wells
I felt like abandoning this just about every day. At times it irritated me, at others it bored me. My stubborn nature finally won out though and I ploughed through all its 975 pages.

It's always going to be an act of hubris to believe you can explain the Nazis. The Kindly Ones purports to offer an insight into the transformation of an ordinary young man into a Nazi monster. Early on, Max Aue, the narrator, an SS Obersturmbannfürher, makes a case that all of us might have done what the Germans di

So what's the most atrocious thing you've seen?... Man, of course!

The Kindly Ones polarized both readers and critics all over the world. They argued on its literary values and scandalous content, pornocaust or holokitsch were amongst epithets, felt poised between admiration for the gigantic work Littell done and themes he researched and final product and message it delivered. The genre itself confounded almost everyone, was it a history novel or quasi document, a literary fiction or fictionalize
°°°·.°·..·°¯°·._.· ʜᴇʟᴇɴ Ροζουλί Εωσφόρος ·._.·°¯°·.·° .·°°° ★·.·´¯`·.·★ Ⓥⓔⓡⓝⓤⓢ Ⓟⓞⓡⓣⓘⓣⓞⓡ Ⓐⓡⓒⓐⓝⓤⓢ Ταμετούρο   Αμ
Με τον κίνδυνο να χαρακτηριστεί πομπώδες αυτό που ακολουθεί θα γράψω με απόλυτη επίγνωση και ειλικρίνεια πως αυτό το βιβλίο ειναι το είδος του μυθιστορήματος που μας θυμίζει γιατί πρέπει να υπάρχει η λογοτεχνία.
Τί είδους βιβλίο είναι αυτό.
Η μόνη απάντηση που μπορώ να δώσω μετά το ανθρωπολογικό τράνταγμα συνειδητοποίησης που υπέστη είναι πως πρόκειται για ένα βιβλίο το οποίο πάνω απο όλα αρνείται.
Αρνείται να δεχτεί, να απλοποιήσει, να κατηγορήσει,
να απενοχοποιήσει και να ταχθεί υπέρ ή κατά στ
Aug 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
It Begins and Ends in Bad Politics

It is possible for human beings to justify all behaviour, no matter how irrational and cruel. Because this is so, some philosophers justify their view that moral norms must lie outside of human control, that there must be a God who knows what good behaviour is. This justification is also irrational and frequently just as cruel.

As for example when the philosophers and theologians of Nazism preached radical anti-Semitism based on universal genetic imperatives of
Apr 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
"I live, I do what can be done, it's the same for everyone, I am a man like other men, I am a man like you. I tell you I am just like you!"
-- Jonathan Littell, The Kindly Ones


This is a hard book to review. It is like walking out of a David Lynch movie and feeling brain raped by the artist. How exactly to you attempt to explore the depths of Nazi Germany without feeling dark, abused, and sick afterwards? From conversations I've had with those who've hated this novel (and British critics I've rea
Vit Babenco
Oct 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Kindly Ones is an unsentimental journey to the darkest side of the human history.
Fascism turned the Germany into a factory of death… And every factory must have an effective technology… So any technology must be perfected and the technology of murder as well.
Killing was a terrible thing; the reaction of the officers was a good proof of that, even if they didn’t all draw the consequences of their own reactions; and the man for whom killing was not a terrible thing, killing an armed man as we
Richard Derus
Dec 18, 2011 rated it liked it
Rating: 3* of five

The Publisher Says: "Oh my human brothers, let me tell you how it happened." So begins the chilling fictional memoir of Dr. Maximilien Aue, a former Nazi officer who has reinvented himself, many years after the war, as a middle-class family man and factory owner in France.

Max is an intellectual steeped in philosophy, literature, and classical music. He is also a cold-blooded assassin and the consummate bureaucrat. Through the eyes of this cultivated yet monstrous man, we experi
MJ Nicholls
So . . . the war. The Second one. Or is that the Second One? Do we capitalise all Things Pertaining to the War? I think it’s appropriate to capitalise when referring to the Greatest Atrocity in All of Mankind . . . or if not appropriate, respectful. And people, well, people keep writing books about It. That War. That Pesky War! This near-1000-page novel is the rambling testament of SS officer Dr. Max Aue, devoted Hauptsturmführer (Captain), later Standartenführer (Major), semi-repentant monster ...more
Aug 18, 2012 rated it did not like it
"A new War and Peace ... Never, in the recent history of French literature, has an early work been so ambitious, so masterfully written, so meticulous in its detail or so serenely horrifying."
-Le Nouvel Observateur, taken from the back cover

“What is this shit?”
-A former French resistance fighter on this book, as quoted by Laurent Binet in The Millions

This is a book that could have been. There were brief flashes of fascination, tantalizing ideas, lost in an interminable sea of dreck.

The opening T
Jun 09, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: holocausto, my-bib
Eu até tinha isto mais ou menos alinhavado na minha cabeça. Até chegar às últimas páginas e perder o chão e a pouca paz que ainda me restava.
Ao longo de mais de 800 páginas, em que Max Aue se atormentou e me atormentou, fui-lhe dando o benefício da dúvida; fui tentando justificar o seu comportamento pelo sofrimento que carregava desde a infância; pela dor atroz que um amor incestuoso, impossível, o condenou a viver. Subestimei as afirmações em que negava arrependimento ou remorsos, achei que o p
Sep 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Quest'estate, durante le mie vacanze estive, mi sono trovata a visitare il memorial site di Dachau. Giornata torrida, il campo scarsamente visitato, il silenzio imperante , la voce della testimonianza dei sopravvissuti nelle orecchie, non ho potuto fare a meno di pensare, al di là di qualsiasi considerazione etica: "Ma se l'obiettivo principale della guerra è vincere la guerra, come hanno potuto disperdere così tante energie e risorse nello sterminio?"
Per comprendere come effettivamente
Dec 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"...que triste é isto que encontro!
Se não te interpretasse bem estaria surdo e cego,
E embora entenda o que dizes ensombra-me o pensamento."

Robert Browning, "A Toccata of Galuppi's"

1. Toccata
Jonathan Littell escreve um romance monumental sobre a Segunda Guerra Mundial. Embora seja filho de judeus, fá-lo sobre o ponto de vista dos nazis o que torna esta obra uma peça original e fascinante, quer pelo conteúdo histórico e humano, quer por abalar a consciência do leitor, obrigando-o a questionar-se
In tempo di guerra il cittadino perde il diritto di non uccidere

La curiosità personale mi ha portato nel corso degli anni a leggere, tra le altre cose, molti libri sulla seconda guerra mondiale, sul nazismo e sull'olocausto. Ho purtroppo trovato la maggior parte di questi incompleti, perché si limitavano alla descrizione dell'effetto senza addentrarsi nella comprensione delle cause. Forse solo "Le origini culturali del Terzo Reich" di Mosse ha soddisfatto parzialmente la mia curiosità di capire
Reading “The Kindly Ones” is like roaming around a dilapidated mansion – it begs you to explore; it is both fascinating and repulsive. The book is very ambitious, and it’s a pleasure to read literature that takes on a serious if uncomfortable subject, and literature that takes itself seriously. I would have given this five stars, and I do find it largely successful, but there are some snags in the subplot that don’t quite work.

The overarching historical plot works well. The protagonist, Maximili
Feb 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Este livro é uma obra e tanto! É também, seguramente, um dos romances mais pesados e violentos que já li. As descrições muito gráficas e a enorme componente de facto histórico dão à violência retratada grande vividez e tangibilidade. Trata-se de um relato de acontecimentos da Segunda Guerra Mundial pela voz de um ex-oficial SS, Maximilien Aue, alemão de ascendência francesa, jurista de formação, sobrevivente da guerra e que, numa idade mais avançada, nos conta as suas memórias - os combates na f ...more
Mar 12, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Michel by: JP Delvaux
Shelves: hist-fic, doulce, lit, cultures, war
The English translation of les Bienveillantes is a travesti. All the sardonic irony and the disgust of the author for his protagonist is lost; imagine taking seriously the Blagojevich defence (I am being punished for doing the right thing for the people who voted for me)!
It starts with the double-entendres (the word 'bienveillant' means 'kind' of course, but it can also denote watchfulness, or paternalism or 'meaning well', depending on the context) when ambiguity is the book's medium; then it m
Кремена Михайлова
В началото се чудех има ли смисъл да я чета след толкова книги/филми за Втората световна война, за Холокоста… Но бързо стана ясно, че това няма да е книга за 1-5-20 милиона жертви – руснаци, поляци, евреи или германци. Тук става въпрос за нещо по-глобално – човечеството; и същевременно за отделната човешка личност. Всъщност не съм човек, който се интересува особено от политика и история. Тук и аз по-скоро изследвам Човека (или човека?). В крайна сметка всичко това е сторено от хора, не от извънз ...more
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
You're given a free trip to Europe, time-travelling back to world war two. Your vehicle is one of the two characters you are free to choose from: one, a Jew who hid for many months, was caught by the Germans, placed in a concentration camp, then died before the war was over; the other a Nazi officer who had been everywhere, practically met everyone of consequence in the German military, and survived the war. You will be like the character's shadow. You will be with him wherever he goes, 24/7. Yo ...more
Madness. Despicably disgustingly amazingly crafted madness. The ability of authors to write out these scenarios, diving into and drowning in the minds of the most horrific human beings imaginable, without completely losing their minds astounds me sometimes.

Maximilian Aue is just a byproduct of this whole history, if you can believe it. He starts out with horrific tendencies, to be sure (view spoiler). And
Mar 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Most of what has been said in criticism of this book has deeply misrepresented it: yes, there is horrible brutality well beyond simple war narration (which you will find in almost every post-WWI novel or non-fiction book). This brutality will disturb every reader (or should). Yes, some of the main character's sexual obsessions will make most readers squirm a bit even if they aren't exactly squeamish. But to read these elements as the basic character and most memorable aspects of the book is cher ...more
Jun 03, 2012 marked it as abandoned  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-french, war
Assigning a star rating to this book is impossible. I can see why it was necessary for it to be written - to remind us of what we are capable - but that doesn't make this book readable. Personally, I couldn't get beyond page 120 or thereabouts. My difficulty lay in reconciling the chilling, dispassionate voice of the narrator with the brutal and horrifying scenes he was witnessing. I became paralysed by the awful, stomach churning fear of what he would recount next. I have never experienced such ...more
Aba Mafalba
Jul 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Δε συνηθίζω να γράφω για βιβλία, αλλά το συγκεκριμένο όντως δεν έτυχε απήχησης στο ελληνικό κοινό, απορίας άξιο γιατί. Στο βιβλιοπωλείο μού είπαν πως το βρήκαν με δυσκολία. Με περίμενε κάποιους μήνες στο ράφι της βιβλιοθήκης: μόλις το πήρα στα χέρια μου ξεφύλλισα τις πρώτες σελίδες. Διαφαινόταν ένα πραγματικά αξιόλογο βιβλίο, αλλά ήθελα να το διαβάσω πιο ήρεμα, πιο συγκεντρωμένα.

Στην τραγωδία του ο Αισχύλος προσπαθεί να μετατρέψει τις γνωστές Ερινύες, τις άτεγκτες και τρομερές αυτές θεότητες, σε
Mar 16, 2009 rated it really liked it
I read this book in its French original version - which is important, because many American reviews are harsh with the author's writing style, and that may be due to the translation: Littell's French is actually quite beautiful - he writes in a direct, precise, elegantly classic way, and it does perfectly serve his story as well as it fits the narrator's voice. This story is, of course, at the center of the huge controversy the novel is creating - a controversy that has exploded in every country ...more
Adam Nevill
Jun 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Finally finished Jonathan Littell's THE KINDLY ONES last night, and at 1 a.m (but needed to be in bed by 11 - often happens). Only taken me 8 years to get to this novel. It received a controversial reception at the time of publication, but I agree with the critics that hailed the novel a masterpiece, though one filled with such belief-defying horror, I often found that reading 50 pages in one sitting was enough. 1000 pages of tiny font on royal hardback pages too: took me a month to read it with ...more
Mar 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, _owned
O melhor livro da década. O primeiro livro de um americano que escreve em francês. No ano em que saiu, ganhou tudo e vendeu 750 000 exemplares em França. É absolutamente avassalador. Acompanhamos a ascensão de um oficial SS, executante do holocausto, do início da carreira até ao fim que já conhecemos. Personagem odiosa mas brutalmente magnética por magia do talento de Littell. Uma odisseia épica com um enorme grau de detalhe histórico. O Who's Who da hierarquia nazi da II Guerra desfila ao longo ...more
Slávek Rydval
Mé rozhodnutí přečíst si mne dosud neznámou knihu Jonathana Littella se dostavilo ihned poté, co jsem se o ní dozvěděl z jedné recenze. Ono odhodlání padlo na základě recenzentovy výtky, že autor jaksi zapomněl na „morální rámec“. Jenže přesně tohle bych od knihy čekal. Ať samozvaní moralisté táhnout třeba i na Sibiř. Ať si lidé toužící po servírovaném a jasně okomentovaném dobru a zlu zalezou do dřevníku a čtou si zjednodušené pohádky pro mentálně zaostalejší.

Dobro a zlo nejsou jednička a nula.
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

Middle-aged French intellectual Jonathan Littell caused a sensation in 2006 with his infamous The Kindly Ones (finally published in the US for the first time in 2008), a thousand-page historical novel which attempts to take the most complicated look ever at what turned a bunch of otherwise boring, middle-
Rita Moura de Oliveira
Leio um calhamaço que estou a adorar. 890 páginas com letra pequenina (a que normalmente sou totalmente avessa...), as memórias de um ex-oficial nazi que participa na execução judaica, na invasão de Estalinegrado, na organização dos campos de concentração. As benevolentes, de Jonathan Littell, revela uma confissão crua, sem arrependimento mas também sem maldade, de alguém que afirma ter feito o que fez por ser o que tinha de fazer. Era o seu trabalho.

Não resisto a transcrever aqui duas passagens
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Reading 1001: Reviews 9 11 Oct 01, 2018 03:32AM  
Reading 1001: Questions Part 3 10 12 Oct 01, 2018 12:10AM  
Reading 1001: Questions Part 2 10 16 Sep 30, 2018 09:15PM  
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Goodreads Italia: GdXL 10/2016 - 12/2016: Le Benevole 173 171 Dec 30, 2016 10:12AM  
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A bi-lingual (English / French) writer living in Barcelona. He is a dual citizen of the United States and France and is of Jewish background. His first novel written in French, Les Bienveillantes , won two major French awards.

His father is the writer Robert Littell, also resident in France and who authored numerous spy novels.
“If you were born in a country or at a time not only when nobody comes to kill your wife and your children, but also nobody comes to ask you to kill the wives and children of others, then render thanks to God and go in peace. But always keep this thought in mind: you might be luckier than I, but you’re not a better person.” 41 likes
“I have remained someone who believes that the only things indispensable to human life are air, food, drink and excretion, and the search for truth. The rest is optional.” 16 likes
More quotes…