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V2: A Novel of World War II

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  5,296 ratings  ·  617 reviews
From the best-selling author of Fatherland and Munich comes a WWII thriller about a German rocket engineer, a former actress turned British spy, and the Nazi rocket program.

It's November 1944--Willi Graf, a German rocket engineer, is launching Nazi Germany's V2 rockets at London from Occupied Holland. Kay Connolly, once an actress, now a young English Intelligence officer,
Kindle Edition, 317 pages
Published November 17th 2020 by Knopf
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Sandra Actually, the book mentions the V2 that landed near Paris and was called a gas explosion.

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Average rating 3.89  · 
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Aug 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
Robert Harris blends fact and fiction to relate the history of the V2 ballistic rockets developed in Germany, in 1944 it becomes increasingly clear to Nazi Germany that events are turning against them. The V2 is Hitler's last throw of the dice in his efforts to try and change the course of the war. He orders ten thousand V2 rockets with their one ton warheads, travelling at three times the speed of sounds, the targets primarily London and Antwerp. The damage and loss of life in London is horrifi ...more
Jeffrey Keeten
”LIke a sprinter poised on her starting block a split second after the pistol was fired, the V2 at first appeared stalled, then abruptly she shot straight upwards, riding a fifteen-metre jet of fire. A thunderous boom rolled from the sky across the wood. Graf craned his neck to follow her, counting in his head, praying she would not explode. One second...two seconds...three seconds....At exactly four seconds into the flight, a time switch was activated in one of the control compartments and the ...more
Bill Lynas
Oct 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Robert Harris treats his readers to another fine thriller, & structures the novel perfectly. Each chapter alternates between those launching Germany's V2 rockets & those trying to locate & destroy them.
Harris bases the story around real events that happened in November 1944, but creates some excellent fictional characters & situations that fit in neatly with the real world.
As always the author has a marvellous sense of time & place. The reader easily empathises with the characters whether they a

Robert Harris is one of the very few authors whose books go on my 'to-read-without-fail' list, regardless of whatever they write. And they rarely disappoint.

But sadly, it was not true in this case. I had my doubts when I read that this book was about V2 rockets. I consider von Braun a Nazi war criminal, who was pardoned just because he could give the US an upper hand in the space (and weapons) race against the Soviets.

Thankfully, von Braun is not a major character in this book.

But even then,
Sam Quixote
May 12, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
November, 1944, and, despite Germany’s inevitable defeat mere months away, the Nazis’ increasingly unhinged actions have led them to use their new ballistic missile, the V2, to daily shell London to kill as many civilians as possible in what they call “Operation Vengeance”. Wishing to remove the fear of randomly dying while sat in your own home, the British forces attempt to desperately pinpoint the hidden mobile launch sites in Holland for the RAF to bomb - but will the efforts of a small team ...more
Sep 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The inimitable Robert Harris returns with a WWII thriller about a German rocket engineer, a former actress turned British spy, and the Nazi rocket program. On the brink of defeat, Hitler commissioned 10,000 V2s - ballistic rockets that carried a one-ton warhead at three times the speed of sound, which he believed would win the war. It's November 1944 - Rudi Graf, a German rocket engineer, is launching Nazi Germany's V2 rockets at London from Occupied Holland. Kay Caton-Walsh, once an actress, no ...more
Sep 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
5 Stars

A truly compelling and fascinating historical novel. The prose is excellent, the pacing relentless, the dialogue fully concise and in service to the action. The plot mainly serves as a superstructure for all the amazing information about the V2, the engineers and military, and the spies and victims of it's short reign during WW-2.

As usual with my reviews, please first read the publisher’s blurb/summary of the book. Thank you.

Beginning in September 1944, over 3,000 V2s were launched by t
Dec 03, 2020 rated it liked it
Robert Harris tends to be an auto-buy author for me, and I was quite excited to start this book, given how much I enjoyed some of his previous ones. Unfortunately, it just never really hooked me. I felt there was no real climax, and though it was surely meticulously researched, I never really connected to the characters or the plot. Maybe I'm just not that into rockets... In any case, this wasn't bad, it just was not on par with Harris' best work (Munich, the Cicero books), and I will still be c ...more
Dec 03, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, overdrive
Nothing at all happens in this book, there is no suspense and, by the author’s own admission, very little in this book was factual. Switching back and forth between Kay Connolly and Willi Graf makes the book disjointed. This was a disappointment.
Charlie Hasler
Sep 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Harris at his best.

For me, this is up there with the likes of Fatherland or Archangel

Absoultley loved it.
Like his novel Munich which I read recently, V2 is set over the course of just a few days. However, this time it’s 1944 at the height of the German onslaught on London with deadly V2 rockets, the devastating effects of which are vividly described. The book alternates between the stories of two main characters – German engineer, Dr. Rudi Graf, and British WAAF Officer, Kay Caton-Walsh. Despite being on different sides, their lives will intertwine in a number of ways.

The book contains many powerfu
Dec 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ladies and gentlemen: This is how historical fiction is done - by taking whatever meager facts are available and meticulously crafting them into a page turning adventure.

Mr. Harris has shaped what would otherwise be a very dry subject for most and made it readable.

Interspersed with some human relationships at entirely the right degree – not too much, not too little – just enough to prevent the reader from calling this an academic thesis on aerodynamics with a little bit of yum on the side.

Jonathan Pool

This is a curious hybrid. The star of the story is the eponymous German V2 rocket/long distance bomb. This is a fascinating bit part of the German war effort between 1943-4. Its one that (pun intended) flies under the radar in the teaching of English history at school. There are bombs galore in WW2, and the London Blitz; even the ‘doodlebugs’, but rarely the V2.
Harris’s storytelling revolves around Kay Caron- Walsh, a doughty WAAF gifted with mathematical and geometrical skills providin
Keith Currie
Sep 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
V for Vengeance

Robert Harris always chooses imaginative and fascinating topics for his novels. Where these work out well in the plots, such as in the Cicero novels, An Officer and a Spy or Fatherland, then the novels are a treat for the reader; when he is less successful (in my opinion), for example in resolutions of Conclave or The Second Sleep, the novels still remain intriguing and thought-provoking.

I worried V2 might fall into the second category when I began to read, but far from it. The st
Ruben Vermeeren

How can a World War II spy novel about ballistic rockets be so boring? I like Robert Harris a lot and ever since his brilliant Cicero trilogy I tend to read every book as soon as it comes out, but this was rather a waste of time.

There is an interesting story at the basis: the V2-rockets the Germans fired from my beloved The Hague to London towards the end of the war. I knew nothing about this and it was interesting to learn about it.

It seems Harris had the idea to construct a spy plot arou
Maine Colonial
Anyone familiar with the history of World War II in Europe knows about Germany’s V1 and V2 rocket attacks on Britain, especially London. Robert Harris personalizes that history by a dual narrative, inserting two fictional characters into the battle between the rocketeers and British defense and intelligence forces.

On one side is Dr. Rudi Graf, a longtime friend of the famed Wernher von Braun, who has dreamt since boyhood of making rockets to explore space. When the Nazis take power, von Braun f
Dolf Patijn
Sep 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
V2 by Robert Harris is a well-crafted, well-researched WWII novel about the deployment of the V2 ballistic rocket in the final few months of the Second World War. The German side is represented by fictional rocket engineer Dr. Graf and the British side by fictional WAAF officer Kay Caton Walsh. Graf is located in the Dutch seaside town of Scheveningen from where the V2s are launched and Kay lives and works in London when we first meet her.

This book is quite different from his WWII thriller Enigm
Laura Spira
A quick read, and, it would appear, a quick write since Robert Harris says he wrote it during the first lockdown. He had clearly done extensive research beforehand and I found some of the technical detail interesting, but there was too much. The characters were very stereotypical and had little depth and the plot twists which should have raised the tension didn't do it for me. I do feel shortchanged by authors like this who have a history of producing really substantial fiction but then spit out ...more
Sep 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A compelling book from an author cruising along on top form. If anything, I would have liked it have been longer, which can only mean I was enjoying the journey.
Feb 05, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not Harris's best. It is an entertaining way to learn some history, but the cat and mouse story isn't great. The book is a mishmash of too many things: espionage, war, absurdity of war, moonshot rocket ship dreaming, etc. The main theme seems to be how truth is the first casualty of war since the main characters on both sides believe propaganda from their military bosses. The most interesting angle was the story that von Braun conned Hitler into wasting billions on a dud weapons program that was ...more
Sep 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
(Guest review - from my husband)

V2 is a wonderful novel. Completely fantastic. Harris’s style is effortless and intimate, leading the reader not just to the site of the action but into it through the delight of the characters bringing the story to life. Set in November 1944, Europe was in its sixth year of the Second World War. In the summer that year, Allied forces had broken out of the Normandy Beachheads and began pushing East through Europe. Events were beginning to turn irrevocably in favou
Jan 18, 2021 rated it it was ok
This book is about a a new weapon that the Nazis used against England. The V2 was a rocket that if developed earlier in WWII may have had devastating effects for the allies. As it was the rocket killed about 9000 people.

The book revolves around two people. Kay Caton-Walsh a WAAF office working for the British and Rudi Graf a a scientist working on the V2 project. Caton-Walsh volunteers (to be continued)
Chris Wray
This is an intelligently written, enjoyable and believable thriller, just as you'd expect from Robert Harris. His historical setting is immersive and authentic, and evokes the pressure and attention to detail that must have been part and parcel of photo reconnaissance work in the Second World War. The story moves on at a relentless pace, and the his research is, as usual, flawless. The subject matter is fascinating, and is genuinely brought to life by Harris's writing. My only criticism is that ...more
Toni Osborne
Oct 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Near the end of WW11, Germany channels all its energy into a rocket, the V2. Robert Harris in a propulsive narrative tells the story from the perspectives of Dr Rudi Graf, a collaborator of Wernher von Braun, head of the rocket program and from Kay Caton-Walsh from the Women’s Auxiliary Air force. The story is set over five days and the dueling narratives expose how the tit for tat battle played out on both sides.

Skillfully mixing the real and fictional characters into the plot Mr. Harris has dr
Dec 05, 2020 rated it did not like it
suddenly nothing happened. What was the point of this book?
Jan 20, 2021 rated it really liked it
Based on true history, this story was mesmerizing to me. I knew nothing of this aspect of the war and walked away feeling I had learned a lot.
Dec 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Two German aerospace engineers with dreams of moon landings use the Nazi military as a springboard. As London is relentlessly bombed by their creation, the V2 ballistic missile system, they quietly, guiltily begin to sabotage their own missions. On the RAF side, a team of women deployed to a Belgian town try radar and trigonometry to locate the secret V2 launch site(s). On both ends, the teams receive phony success stories to encourage them. When Germany finally loses the war, the engineers rece ...more
Set just prior to the end of the Second World War, Robert Harris' V2 depicts Germany's last-ditch effort to turn the tide in its favor with the development and deployment of their V2 ballistic missile.  The story follows two main characters – Kay Connolly, an ambitious British solider, and Willi Graf, a fictional colleague of the very real Wernher von Braun, the man who invented the V2 rocket that had been used to attack London.

I received an advanced copy from the publisher in exchange for an ho
Aug 31, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rightly hailed as a consummate storyteller, Robert Harris has released a lockdown-honed explosive WW11 story, focusing on the invention, manufacture and utilisation of the German V2 rocket, fired on London and Antwerp from 1944 onwards. Told through the perspective of both German and British characters, this is a fascinating recreation of the last months of the war.
At its centre are engineer Dr Graf, an increasingly reluctant participator in the German war effort, and Kay Caton Walsh, a WAAF off
Sep 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Other reviewers have outlined the plot better than I could so I will stick to my impression of how interesting, informative and credible the book appeared to me. I think it ticked all the boxes very well indeed and I feel that the author is at the top of his game.
There are heroes and villains on both sides and a certain amount of pinging of suspender straps ( and even a hint of lesbian action ) which could have been pretty naff in the hands of a less good writer. The description of the group of
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ROBERT HARRIS is the author of nine best-selling novels: Fatherland, Enigma, Archangel, Pompeii, Imperium, The Ghost Writer, Conspirata, The Fear Index, and An Officer and a Spy. Several of his books have been adapted to film, most recently The Ghost Writer, directed by Roman Polanski. His work has been translated into thirty-seven languages. He lives in the village of Kintbury, England, with his ...more

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