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Publisher's Summary

From the best-selling author of Istanbul Passage - called a "fast-moving thinking man's thriller" by The Wall Street Journal - comes a sweeping, atmospheric novel of postwar East Berlin, 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? Betrayal? Survival? Murder?

Filled with intrigue and the moral ambiguity of conflicted loyalties, Joseph Kanon's new novel is a compelling thriller and a love story that brings a shadowy period of history vividly to life.

©2015 Joseph Kanon (P)2015 Simon and Schuster

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

good spy novel

Set in Berlin in 1948 and it seems like the war is still ongoing. This was the time of the McCarthy communist purge in the US and many Americans that were communist or at least sympathetic were returning or going to East Berlin and the Soviet sector. I believe a lot of them found out that it was one thing to be an intellectual communist living in the US and another to live under the yoke of Soviet communism. But there were all kinds of people returning to Germany trying to find relatives, friends and an old way of life. The wall wasn't yet built and many Germans were hoping the Russians would go home. There were lots of cross currents. The protagonist was half Jewish, whose parents died in a concentration camp, but he was able to get out of Germany in 1933. He felt like he owed a debt to the person who helped him get out and he wanted to see if he could help that family. The author wrote a pretty good thriller. I saw author Greg Iles at a book signing and he said this author, Joseph Kanon, is one of his favorites and that's why I bought this book. Glad I did.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Espionage In Berlin 1948

My favorite aspect of this novel was the atmosphere captured by the author. Kanon was able to paint each scene with just the right amount of detail so that it all felt real and alive. In addition, the complex dialogue and the glimpses of memories from the main character Alex added depth and texture to this spy thriller.

Fast paced, dark, remote, convoluted and risky. The book teemed with so many different groups at odds, so much hidden threat and who to trust and who not to trust. At times it was hard to keep all the threads straight. Still, I was swept along by it all and thought it was a good story. Worth a listen if you are interested in early Cold War Berlin.

35 of 39 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Wonderfully complex!

I loved this book! Intriguing, complicated, well-plotted, well-written and well-read. Set in a time period I knew little about, the Berlin airlift, the book demonstrates the warring factions within oneself, as well as the warring factions in the political manuevering that followed WWII in Germany. As the reviewer for The (London) Telegraph put it, " One knows that a war will end some day: but what if peace entails unending misery?" And who chooses known "misery" over the chance of a new and peaceful life? The narrator is grand--an interesting voice, moving easily between hints of the appropriate accents of various characters. Good, good listen--highly recommended!

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Spy tale

A well written and very absorbing tale of a spy in per post World War II Germany. Great characters and a great plot made it difficult to put down. Highly recommended.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Great Cold War Yarn

Plenty of good guys, bad guys and those you're unsure about in this post WWII spy novel set in East Berlin. The dialogue is excellent and enough twists and turns to keep you guessing until the end.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Annoying Narrator

Good story, terrificly atmospheric, somewhat spoiled by an amateurish narrator (who mangled German pronunciation, too). Still worth a listen though.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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To many twists to count

This book will leave you thinking of what might have been! You will not know till the end what could have been! You will fall in love with one character and loath another almost as though you knew them personally!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Worth every minute!

Complex, compelling plot. Sensitive professional narrator, voiced characters perfectly. In a busy world, totally worthwhile.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

hard to start

This was hard to get into at first. It took a few replays to get me interested. it was okay once it picked up a little. The reader has a single monotone voice.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Bad Days in Berlin, Very Bad

After WWII, we think the horrors of war were over. Not so.
This was a city under siege and the beginnings of the Cold War. Russians in power. Rapes, disappearances, slave labor in uranium mines. American spies, German spies, Russian spies, and double agent spies. I found this story suspenseful and wanted it to be over because of the betrayals and dangers. Anyone who loves a good spy story would enjoy all the twists and turns. Guess that isn't me, but it's well written and well read so deserves four stars.