Joaquim Rocha
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Book review: Alone in Berlin

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    Joaquim Rocha
  • Principal Software Engineering Manager at Microsoft

Alone in Berlin (Penguin Modern Classics)Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Warning: may contain spoilers) This is a book about an old couple from 1930s Berlin who, after losing their only son in the front, decide to fight against the Nazi government. Based on the true story of Otto and Elise Hampel, the couple starts their lone resistance by writing postcards with anti-Nazi messages and leaving them in public buildings, in a hope that people read them and pass them on.

I like the fast paced style of this book, maybe derived from the fact that Fallada wrote it in around four months only; the author doesn’t lose time with unnecessary words or details and still you get a really good picture of the characters in this story and the atmosphere of misery, fear and paranoia.

This isn’t the typical story about wartime heroes, full of charisma and ending up inevitably in success. No, these heroes, Otto and Anna Quangel, are rather uninteresting and even dull.

Their risky fight seems to have been in vain but that’s not what the book is really about. This novel is about keeping one’s dignity, it is about not being corrupted only because there’s a corrupt government and society around us. It shows us that if you do something to change that situation, even if it has no direct effect or if you pay with your lives, you have won!

I really enjoyed this book and how it’s written. I was touched by the story and the message it gives and also by the author’s tragic life that is briefly described in the book’s afterword, so, I’m giving this book 5 stars.

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