The Good GermanToday, a short review of a short Schrift.

Title: The Good German, by Joseph Kanon

Date: January 31, 2013 (#4)

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For those familiar with the history of occupied Berlin–perhaps thanks to Anthony Beevor’s excellent The Fall of Berlin 1945The Good German‘s plot will be relatively predictable. That will hold true whether you first come across it in the novel or the (excessively maligned) film by the same name, starring George Clooney and Cate Blanchett.

The novel and the movie share an excellent grasp of noir atmospherics and historical fiction. American males speak in a sort of jaded Sam Spade lockjaw yet are naïve softies at heart; British characters are perpetually drunk and disillusioned; the Soviets drunk and menacing; and the women suitably loose and mysterious.

A representative exchange between an English and an American character:

“You with the conference or have you just come for a look-in?” Brian said, playing with him.

“I’m not attending the conference, no.”

“Just come to see the raj, then.”


“Oh, no offense. It’s very like, though, wouldn’t you say? Military Government. Pukkah sahibs, really.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Well, neither do I, half the time,” Brian said pleasantly. “Just a little conceit of mine. Never mind. Here, have a drink,” he said, taking another, his forehead sweaty.

This is all quite well done. What with my recent gushing over Richard Rhodes’ The Making of the Atomic Bomb, I may just pick up a copy of Mr. Kanon’s previous novel, Los Alamos.

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Next: Left Turn: How Liberal Media Distorts the American Mind, by Tim Groseclose