Book Review: Fatherland by Robert Harris

Fatherland by Robert Harris
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fatherland is set in an alternative world where Hitler has won the Second World War. It is April 1964 and one week before Hitler’s 75th birthday. Xavier March, 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. As March discovers the identity of the body, he 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 an American journalist, 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

It’s 1964, twenty years after Germany won WWII. Hitler is approaching his 75th birthday. Berlin has been rebuilt on a massive scale. Poland no longer exists. Western Europe has been dissolved into one Economic bloc. Only Switzerland has escaped becoming part of the Reich Empire. Joe Kennedy is the current American president.

Xavier March, a member of the SS after the absorption of the police into the SS, is sent out to investigate a body found in a lake. This pulls him into the high ranks of the German hierarchy during the war, the taking of art, and ultimately the notes of Wanasee, where the Final Solution was discussed and agreed. He finds corruption is rife, triple crosses occur everywhere and a fanatical belief in the Third Reich (and Hitler) starting with his ex-wife and son. Already disenfranchised with the state of things, it is shattered even more when he comes across an American journalist who gives him another view of things.

As usual, you feel that Harris has done his homework – the whole story with regarding to Wansee and the concentration camps ties with other variations I have of this, the use of the German ranks is impressive (esp if you dont know what they mean!) and the envisioning of what Berlin would have been like had the building plans gone ahead.


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