Every Man Dies Alone

Narrated by: George Guidall
Length: 20 hrs and 15 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (399 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Hans Fallada wrote this stunning novel in only 24 days - just after being released from a Nazi insane asylum. Based on a true story, Every Man Dies Alone tells of a German couple who try to start an uprising by distributing anti-fascist postcards during World War II. But their dream ultimately proves perilous under the tyranny that dominates every corner of Hitler’s Germany.

©2009 Melville House Publishing; Translation, Michael Hofman (P)2010 Recorded Books, LLC

Critic Reviews

"The book has the suspense of a John le Carré novel, and offers a visceral, chilling portrait of the distrust that permeated everyday German life during the war." (The New Yorker)

What listeners say about Every Man Dies Alone

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

a difficult masterpiece

for anyone who wants to know what it was like to live in world war 2 germany, this is probably the best place to learn. for me the book was at times humorous, at times heart breaking, at times astonishing. the level of characterization rivals balzac at his best, the layers of political plotting are as good as dostoeyvsky. the writer apparently loved dickens and it shows. even in their darkest hours, fallada s good characters cannot be anything but good. which is good because evil characters abound in the book as they did in nazi germany. you can read a book like Hitlers Willing Executioners and be stunned into belief, but in a book like this you live the life of the revolutionary character in a way that gets into your soul. these two characters could be your parents, or your grandparents. they are difficult and loveable, and to the very end of the book nothing matters as much as their fate.

I do not agree that any of the characters or their dialogue feel dated. rather it is the reading given by this narrator that makes it sound that way. he gives one character a whiny voice that was probably accurate, but in an audio book, with no face to go along with it, it did seem exaggerated, even cartoonish. there were a few times when i thought the book would have been served better by a less exciteable acting. but that is only my opinion, someone else might love it. the narrator did a fantastic job otherwise, and obviouslsy gave it his whole heart. it was convincing and passionate.

a note about the translator. if you like this book, you should check out his other translations, particularly the books of joseph roth whom i had never heard of until moving to germany many years ago. he is now one of my favorite writers, and that debt is owed to this translator who is a poet, and who has a fantastic way with words.

this book should be read by anyone who thinks torture is a good idea, at any time, for any reason.

32 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Hard Times

Written in 1947, this novel is based on the true story of a working class couple who left anonymous post cards in and around Berlin during the Nazi regime. The subversive cards encouraged people to sabotage the Nazi war effort by slowing down work in any way possible. The real-life couple, as well as the novel's main characters, Otto and Anna Quangel, were eventually captured and executed. There are also several subplots involving neighbors and relatives of the Quangels, including an elderly Jewish woman whose husband was taken away by the Nazis, an SS officer, a young thug making his way up the ranks of the Hitler youth, a female postal worker and her long-philandering husband, and others. Like most stories about Nazi Germany, this is the story of common people struggling just to survive and, sometimes, taking extraordinary risks along the way.

I found [Every Man Dies Alone] difficult to read because of its relentless tension and the relentless cruelty and manipulations of the Nazis and their sympathizers. I'm sure that is exactly the effect that the author had hoped for, but: 1) I felt that I had suffered through similar books before, so there were few surprises; and 2) I just kept wishing that it would be over, since the unhappy ending was inevitable. These comments aren't meant to be disparaging; they just express the emotional impact that the book had on me personally. Would I recommend it? Yes, with the caution that it is far from a light summer read. If you 'appreciated' (I can't say 'enjoyed') books like Night or Schindler's List, you might want to put Every Man Dies Alone on your wish list--but don't expect heroism, suffering, and endurance to be rewarded here, nor the evil to be punished.

15 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Powerful and Deeply Moving

This audio book may be as close to a masterpiece as it gets. I am just coming back from the journey and still reeling from the experience. The depiction of a range of simple, accessible characters finding surprising dimensions of themselves at moments of crisis and struggle; a degeneration of a society on a macro and an interpersonal level; a tapestry of images of humanity at its best and at its worst - I became hopeless immersed in the world of this novel. George Guidall brings the art of narration to a new level, bringing dozens of characters to life with a kind of subtlety of vocal gesture that serves the material perfectly. A beautiful, painful, piercing look into some of the darkest and most inspiring places in the human soul. It's going to take me some time to recover.

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Ordinary citizens in a fascist time

This is an interesting novel of how ordinary people in Germany in the early 1940s dealt with the war, fascism, and shortages, as their friends and family members are dying in the army. The story about these ordinary folks moves slowly, but it is deep with the tension and paranoia that surrounded them.

The main part of the story is based on a real story of a small rebellion undertaken by a couple who left anti-Nazi postcards around Berlin. But the postcards story is only one of the quiet attempts at rebellion made by workers around the capital, and there are other characters who battle their disappointment, paranoia, sadness, and anxiety about those few years covered by the novel.

The narration is perfect. Nothing more to say.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Enjoyable

I felt that I was all WWII'd out by time I got to this book. I didn't realize it was 20 hours long until I started it, and it went a little slow. But after the 2 or 3 hour mark it really opened up for me. As a 30-something American, I felt this author did what few other WWII books can do... and that was to place me in Berlin, in the experience of many different facets of average German men and women as they either obeyed their commanders, or defied Nazi rule. Ironically, I happened to be listening to Stephen King's "IT" at the same time and saw many similarities of average, seemingly powerless people trying to fight a giant evil that no one believes but them. I am very glad I read this book and if you do attempt it, please give it time to blossom. I seriously was ready to give up on it after two hours, but it grew on me. The characters suddenly came very alive.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Kind of slow, but very revealing

I think readers should know the back story of this book before they begin. It's not great literature, but it's very important and unique, and therefore worth listening to, especially in this age of Holocaust deniers. The author wrote it during the Nazi era while living in Germany. He had a chance to get out, but thought it couldn't be all THAT bad. Well, it was. Because this book was written (in code! in secret!) during the Nazi era in Germany, no one can say the tales of people being turned over to the Gestapo were exaggerated or life under the Nazis wasn't that bad. Of course they could try to deny that the denunciations, imprisonments, and executions as portrayed in this book happened, but the fact this book was written during the time instead of years later made an impression on me (I am younger than those who lived during that era.) I heard a Holocaust survivor say that she had only recently begun to speak out because there were so many deniers today. OK this book is not about the Holocaust per se, but about life inside Germany and how you could be denounced, imprisoned, and executed if you were suspected of not supporting the Nazi regime. Before I read this book, I didn't know the story of Sophie Scholl and the White Rose society and how they got executed for distributing anti-Nazi flyers. The couple in this book who distributed anti-Nazi flyers was based on a real couple, who were executed.

This book moves a little slowly, but it is worth listening to because people need to know and remember what really went on. All my life I have wondered "Why did the Germans go along with the Nazis?" I didn't really know what life was like inside Germany at that time.

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Truly great

I first heard about this book from the Ben Shapiro Show and, at the time, I simply added it to my list of books that I should read. Although I'm young (18) and I haven't read as many books as I would have wanted too by now. The Only other book that I could compare it too that I've read is "1984", which given the popularity "1984" has received, I feel that "Every Man Dies Alone" is a better book in every aspect. My main complaint with 1984 is that it all feels impersonal, from Smith's betrayal of the party to his romantic relationship. It all feels as if it's done out of boredom or simple curiosity. The world of 1984 also feels unbelievable, from the lack of prole resistance to how the party is able to keep track of every citizen through cameras, it all feels like a fuzzy and hazy surreal dream. Compared to "EMDA" which, I wouldn't be surprised if it were based on a true story, is all shockingly believable, from how the Gestapo is ran so small details of how Jews with non-Jewish sounding names had to adopt either Israel or Sara. I think that when talking about dystopian societies, truth is often the most juiciest part of these book; and what is truly amazing is when there's no line between truth, adaptation, or fiction. I should mentioned that the narration is top notch, however, since it's one guy, I feel that some of the female characters sound vocally the same, but it was never an issue figuring out who was talking. Everything felt easy too follow and the narration in some points significantly added to my enjoyment of the book.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Not at all what I expected!

i loved this book! It was such an interesting, well-narrated book. I'd expected something darker and not nearly so entertaining but I think this is because Guidall gave it just enough of a lift to keep it from being overly weighty or depressing. I recommend it and may very well listen to this tale again.

Side note: if the character is Eino, it should be pronounced A' No not N' O. (This is a family member's name.)

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A masterpiece

This book is a masterpiece. Although it is a tragedy, it powerfully argues for the power of small acts of resistance, not for their efficacy in overturning a vile political order, but for the dignity of living with vulnerability, risk, responsibility, and, in the end, a kind of freedom, and of dying with honor. The narrator's voice brings the characters to life.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Fasinating view of life in Nazi Germany

This is a fascinating book. This book is about a real couple who lived in Berlin during World War 2. Their son was in the German army and was killed during the invasion of France. The couple then started to write and distribute letters and post cards denouncing the war, Hitler and the Nazi regime.

There are many characters in the book. There are several subordinate stories and sub plots written through the novel. All of this is key for me, and American, to understand How Germans lived and what life was like in Nazi Germany. Eventually the couple is caught, tortured and killed. They die with honor and with their dignity intact.

According to Wiki, the book was written, by Hans Fallada in 24 days. He died only a few months after completing the book. The translation works well and there is enough german left to help the book be completely believable. The book was a best seller in 2009, when the English translation was published, and the reason for this is clear when you read it.

There is a great WIKI page about the book, movie and author.

5 people found this helpful