Leaving Berlin

Leaving Berlin

A Novel

eBook - 2015
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New York Times Notable Book * NPR Best Books 2015 * Wall Street Journal Best Books of 2015

The acclaimed author of The Good German "deftly captures the ambience" (The New York Times Book Review) of postwar East Berlin in his "thought-provoking, pulse-pounding" (Wall Street Journal) New York Times bestseller—a sweeping spy thriller about a city caught between political idealism and the harsh realities of Soviet occupation.
Berlin, 1948. Almost four years after the war's end, the city is still in ruins, a physical wasteland and a political symbol about to rupture. In the West, a defiant, blockaded city is barely surviving on airlifted supplies; in the East, the heady early days of political reconstruction are being undermined by the murky compromises of the Cold War. Espionage, like the black market, is a fact of life. Even culture has become a battleground, with German intellectuals being lured back from exile to add credibility to the competing sectors.

Alex Meier, a young Jewish writer, fled the Nazis for America before the war. But the politics of his youth have now put him in the crosshairs of the McCarthy witch-hunts. Faced with deportation and the loss of his family, he makes a desperate bargain with the fledgling CIA: he will earn his way back to America by acting as their agent in his native Berlin. But almost from the start things go fatally wrong. A kidnapping misfires, an East German agent is killed, and Alex finds himself a wanted man. Worse, he discovers his real assignment—to spy on the woman he left behind, the only woman he has ever loved. Changing sides in Berlin is as easy as crossing a sector border. But where do we draw the lines of our moral boundaries? At betrayal? Survival? Murder? Joseph Kanon's compelling thriller is a love story that brilliantly brings a shadowy period of history vividly to life.
Publisher: Atria Books

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martins_mom Apr 30, 2018

Hard to believe that the cosmopolitan city of today was such a spooky place only a generation ago. Kanon is great at capturing the feelings of individuals caught up in events much larger than themselves.

t
tjdickey
Oct 18, 2017

The setting is Berlin immediately following World War 2: the bombing, the concentration camps, and the crimes of the Soviet occupation are all in very recent memory. Kanon gives us Berlin of the Great Game - the great game of spies, the "game of mirrors," the kind of environment which helped to shape Graham Greene and John Le Carre. Enter Alex Meier, a Jewish escapee, sometime Communist, and reluctant recruit to the fledgling CIA. Kanon takes us on a tense journey through the shifting allegiances and the claustrophobic atmosphere of the Berlin Airlift, with great pacing and deep humanity.
The scene at the opening night of Brecht's "Mother Courage" is worthy of Orson Welles, and proceeds into a chain lightning set of climactic revelations.

m
Markdi
Jul 20, 2016

A Jewish intellectual novelist who barely escaped the Nazis returns to a divided post-war Berlin and instantly turns into a running-and-gunning double agent. Entertaining and implausible, though at least there were no scenes of Bertolt Brecht, a supporting character, leaping from airplanes. If it's nuance you want, try Alan Furst.

muddy8769 Apr 06, 2016

This novel pulls you into the story even though it was a little boring to start. It is a good accounting of life after war and the treatment of the individual based upon their political leanings. It reminds us of why America the Great must always be worked on. War is devastating and we must try hard to avoid any destructions of anyone's homeland.

l
loftusrp
Feb 16, 2016

Kanon is the master of post war genre a time of suspense, intrigue and love. He captures the danger and excitement of rebuilding a shattered country and lives.

n
NFN
Feb 10, 2016

A suspenseful and interesting spy novel that will appeal most to readers familiar with Berlin and with the politics of the era.

c
csut2
Jan 04, 2016

wsj nolan best 2015
best 2015
I may have read

JunkMailYuck Jun 27, 2015

Intriguing story line and excellent description of Berlin at the time. Maybe some of my enjoyment was partly because I visited Berlin in the late 1990's and have memories to go along with the author's descriptions. I recommend the audio version so one can "see" with eyes closed. Reader was easy to listen to.

i
IV27HUjg
Jun 26, 2015

I could not make heads/tails of this read into the 2nd chapter I gave up. Glad to return it.

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