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The Great Swindle  By  cover art

The Great Swindle

By: Pierre Lemaitre
Narrated by: Gareth Armstrong
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Publisher's Summary

Winner of the prestigious Prix Goncourt, a timeless story of how war transforms lives in unexpected and often tragic ways as seen through the eyes of three World War I vets

The year is 1918, the war on the Western Front all but over. An ambitious officer, Lieutenant Henry D'Aulnay-Pradelle, sends two soldiers over the top and then surreptitiously shoots them in the back to incite his men to attack the German lines. 

When another of D'Aulnay-Pradelle's soldiers, Albert Maillard, reaches the bodies and discovers how they died, the lieutenant shoves him into a shell hole to silence him. Albert is rescued by fellow soldier, the artist Edouard Péricourt, who takes a bullet in the face. The war ends and both men recover, but Edouard is permanently disfigured, and fakes his death to prevent his family from seeing him as a cripple. In gratitude for Edouard's rescue, Albert becomes the injured man's companion and caregiver. 

Finding that the postwar gratitude for the soldiers' service is nothing more than lip-service to an empty idea, the two men scramble to survive, ultimately devising a scam to take money for never-to-be-built war memorials from small towns. Meanwhile, Lieutenant Pradelle has married Edouard's sister Madeline and is running a scam of his own that involves the exhumation of war victims. 

In this sorrowful, heart-searching novel, the interwoven lives of these three men create a tapestry of the human condition as seen through the lens of war, revealing brutality and compassion, heroism and cowardice, in equal measure.

©2015 Pierre Lemaitre (P)2019 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"A fast-paced tale, filled with twists and turns, following a mischievous, disillusioned view of post-war France." (Astrid de Larminat, Figaro)

"[An] assured, somber exploration of post-WWI French society...Lemaitre captures the venal capitalism of the postwar period.... Despite his unscrupulous scheme, Édouard proves impossible to dislike. His determination to play a great trick on the society that betrayed him is infectious, and readers cannot help rooting for his plans as they reach their dark, bizarrely joyous fruition." (Publishers Weekly

"Mr. Lemaitre's background in crime fiction shows through in the intricate plotting and suspenseful pacing of The Great Swindle, which at times reads like a thriller. Its characters harbor so many secrets that part of the enjoyment in the book comes from seeing how the author plans to disentangle them." (Sarah Lyall, The New York Times)

What listeners say about The Great Swindle

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