A Novel

Book - 2006
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Random House, Inc.
The New York Times bestselling classic of alternate history, a murder mystery set in a world where the Nazis won World War II—for fans of The Plot Against America and The Man in the High Castle

Berlin, 1964. The Greater German Reich stretches from the Rhine to the Urals, and keeps an uneasy peace with its nuclear rival, the United States. As the Fatherland prepares for a grand celebration honoring Adolf Hitler’s seventy-fifth birthday and anticipates a conciliatory visit from U.S. president Joseph Kennedy and ambassador Charles Lindbergh, a detective of the Kriminalpolizei is called out to investigate the discovery of a dead body in a lake near Berlin’s most prestigious suburb.

But when Xavier March discovers the identity of the body, he also uncovers signs of a conspiracy that could go to the very top of the German Reich. And, with the Gestapo just one step behind, March, together with the American journalist Charlotte Maguire, is caught up in a race to discover and reveal the truth—a truth that has already killed, a truth that could topple governments, a truth that will change history.

Praise for Fatherland

“A singular achievement displaying original and carefully wrought suspense . . . Fatherland easily transcends convention.”The Washington Post

“A solid thriller, vividly imagined and genuinely frightening.”The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“Ingenious . . . a triumph . . . suspenseful and elegant.”San Francisco Chronicle

“A dazzler . . . fast-paced . . . Historical fact is blended skillfully with fiction.”Detroit Free Press

“Absorbing . . . expertly written.”The New York Times Book Review

“Truly captivating.”—Robert Ludlum

“A strong premise for a police thriller with rich foreign atmosphere and political texture galore? Absolutely!”Entertainment Weekly

“A sly and scary page-turner.”Los Angeles Times

“A well-plotted, well-written detective tale and a fascinating trek through parallel history.”Chicago Tribune

Fatherland works on all levels. It’s a triumph.”The Washington Times

“Distinguished by vivid details based on impeccable research, the thriller is a crackling-good read in the le Carré tradition.”Time


“A gripping detective story as well as a chilling visit to the Germany that might have been. It is so plausibly written it seems quite real. Robert Harris is a name to watch for.”BookPage

Publisher: New York, NY : Random House, 2006, c1992
Edition: Random House trade pbk. ed
ISBN: 9780812977219
Branch Call Number: SF HARRIS
Characteristics: 338 p. : map ; 21 cm


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Apr 04, 2018

I’ve read a lot of Harris’ books. Or at least I’ve tried to. But most of them, save one, have failed the 50 page rule. This one, which is among his first books, is actually what one might call riveting. All the elements for an attention-holding novel are there. There’s the Third Reich, still going strong, complete with a deified Führer, in the year 1964. There are crooked Gestapo thugs (is there any other kind?), There’s betrayal and double-dealing of all kinds. There’s at least some blood and gore. And even a love interest featuring a pretty American reporter. And the main protagonist, an SS trooper seems to be the only person among the lot well, save the pretty American reporter. How do you spell irony. All in all, a good Harris novel that definitely passes the fifty test.

Dec 14, 2017

Woah, alternative history that doesn't read like a sloppily-plotted fanfic? I know, I could barely believe it either! Harris's meticulously researched and believable detective story takes a basic premise and smartly doesn't dwell on it. Instead, he takes the idea of the "Good German" and tries it out as a narrative thought experiment instead of a literary device. In many places an homage to the classics of the genre, the protagonist is a Teutonic version of the wisecracking gumshoe in Chandler's mold. With the requisite number of twists and turns, the story follows our hero to the edges of his moral universe and beyond. There's a reason why detective fiction can be so transgressive: it often asks the hero to stare into his society's darkest corners and shed light on them. And if that society happens to be a post-WWII Nazi Germany? All the deeper the darkness and bright the light.

Best paired with Chabon's "The Yiddish Policemen's Union," which I can't help but assume was written as a response to Harris's novel.

May 03, 2017

Usually to create a dystopian future, the author must use a lot of energy to give us context and detail - Harris has the terrifying reality of Nazism, the Final Solution, and Stalinist Russia already in our consciousness, so our fear as readers is immediate, powerful, and well-founded. What if in 1964, Joseph Kennedy's anti-Semitic United States and Nazi Germany are the twin victors of WW2, locked in a nuclear cold war...? Berlin is a frightening capital city of the world; Germany is mired in an asymmetrical war deep in Asia; and no one really knows what happened to so many European Jews...

Mar 31, 2013

Mostly an average story, but I'll give it a 3rd star because Harris created good dialog among the characters.

The big mystery for the protagonist is his nailing down the truth about the real world death camps of WWII in this tale about the state of the fictional world of the early 1960s, with Hitler still in power.

I would've been more interested in the story if it was more strategic (how are the world powers getting along in a world that includes Nazis in national power?) and less the tactical dealings of a beat cop (yet Gestapo) trying to break a mystery.

SqueeGirl Sep 26, 2009

The 1994 HBO movie based on this novel stars Rutger Hauer and Miranda Richardson and was directed by Christopher Menaul.


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SqueeGirl Sep 26, 2009

In a 1964 Nazi Berlin a copy investigates a suicide and uncovers the 20 year old secret of what happened to the Jews


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