There have been thousands of books written about WWII, but not as many focus on the immediate aftermath, let alone set in immediate post-war Berlin. In The Good German, Joseph Kanon explores the many different facets of war, the intricacies of motive, and the ethical dilemmas one can be faced with when carrying out actions in the name of love and war.
The plot follows Jake, an American reporter that is on his way to Berlin to write an article on the post-war efforts to re-build the city. Once in Berlin, Jake stumbles upon the body of an American soldier and finds evidence that all may not be what it seems. Along the way, Jake encounters a host of characters that he will later reunite with further in the story. The plot essentially is split up between a love story and a mystery; Jake has a secondary reason for going to Berlin, which is to seek out his former Girlfriend, Lena, who he had met on a previous trip. Rest assured though, there are many plot twists and diversions in order to save it from becoming a two dimensional experience.
What I loved most about this book, apart from the entertaining plot, was that it really made you question your already strongly held morals. It presents both sides of an argument and doesn’t necessarily side with either argument. What you once thought hypocritical, might actually make sense. What you once found acceptable might now be unacceptable. What you once found abhorrent might now be not so abhorrent. There is no right or wrong answer set in stone. If you want a book that will question and challenge your views/morals and not a cozy mystery that will sit you around a camp fire, with you signing kumbyah, and present you with a box of answers with a nice bow tie on it (I don’t knock any that type of book – sometimes we need that!), then do yourself a favour and pick up The Good German.
Hope to see you next week for another review!
The Good German