The Man in the High Castle

Narrated by: Jeff Cummings
Length: 9 hrs and 58 mins
3.5 out of 5 stars (7,399 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Now an Amazon Original series

Winner of the Hugo Award

"The single most resonant and carefully imagined book of Dick's career." --New York Times

It's America in 1962. Slavery is legal once again. The few Jews who still survive hide under assumed names. In San Francisco, the I Ching is as common as the Yellow Pages. All because some twenty years earlier the United States lost a war - and is now occupied by Nazi Germany and Japan.

This harrowing, Hugo Award-winning novel is the work that established Philip K. Dick as an innovator in science fiction while breaking the barrier between science fiction and the serious novel of ideas. In it, Dick offers a haunting vision of history as a nightmare from which it may just be possible to wake.

©1962 Philip K. Dick, © renewed 1990 by Laura Coelho, Christopher Dick, and Isa Hackett. (P)2014 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved.

What listeners say about The Man in the High Castle

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Alternative history

The Man in the High Castle is PK Dick's 1962 Hugo award winning novel of an alternate history where the US has lost WWII. In this vision, due to the assassination of FDR in his fist term, the subsequent US president fails to prepare the nation for war with a quick defeat after Pearl Harbor and the fall of England due to lack of US support. The country is divided between the Japanese controlling the west coast to the Rockies, while Germany controls the East with the Rocky Mountain region somewhat murky. Germany dominates science and has made it to Mars and Venus, while they continue to move across the globe with ethnic cleansing. The story centers around several characters barely surviving, including introspective Japanese. Most intriguing is a story within a story concept from which the title is derived, referring to the mysterious author of another alternate history where the US has won the war.

The sci-fi elements are minimal especially given the span of time, although for 1962, colonization of Mars and Venus was probably novel with the US Mercury and Gemini space missions barely getting into orbit. The focus is mainly on how the various characters respond to their situations, while at the same time describing a more macabre, hopeless world. At the same time, Dick contrasts the Japan and Germany styles of conquest which differ greatly. Dick also was quite prescient in his notions of evolving social mores.

The narration is superb with an excellent range of voices and solid pacing. Don't expect some climatic revolution at the end to reset history. This is a tale of "what if" and Dick provide a compelling, credible, and engaging alternative version.

144 people found this helpful

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Wanted to see what all the buzz was about!

I watched the pilot on Amazon and then picked up the book. Interesting premise but was difficult to always comprehend his steam of thought. The audio book made it much easier for me to enjoy.

I probably need to listen again to try and catch more. Book is a different direction from the TV show... But enjoyed it. Would recommend... Just realize that this isn't your typical novel...

103 people found this helpful

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A classic ruined by its narrator

Philip K. Dick's Man in the High Castle is a classic. An unflinching alternate history with science fiction sprinkled liberally throughout the background (space colonization, 45 minute rocket flights from Northern Europe to San Francisco, and an intriguing passing mention of the damming and draining of the Mediterranean to gain massive amounts of land are three spoiler-free examples). For those who have found themselves here via Amazon's mini-series: The book and show are different entities with different foci. You will find the book to have different character priorities - I would urge you, despite this, to enjoy both the novel and the series as different approaches to the same rough story. I will say no more about the book - there's a reason it's a classic and should be read. I cannot, however, recommend this audiobook of it.

The narrator, quite simply, ruins it. Dick's work was published in 1963 and is deliberately harsh in its language, especially when it comes to race - he was making a point. But the racial and national slurs that pervade the work seem tame compared to the outrageously stereotype accents used by the narrator. The Japanese voices would be at home in Second World War Warner Brothers' cartoon propaganda, the Germans are right out of 'Allo 'Allo or Dad's Army, and one of the main protagonists' Jewish ancestry and faith is demonstrated by a straight out of central casting "Jewish New Yorker" so bad it would make Jackie Mason and Woody Allen wince in pain (which makes no sense as Dick plainly states the character has gone out of his way to hide his background for safety reasons). Read the book or find another recording, but avoid this version (and this narrator) if you want anything other than painful stereotypes.

80 people found this helpful

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Tough listen

Any additional comments?

Story was very good and engaging. Narrator does the worst accents I've heard in a long time . Germans sound more English, Italians sound Russian. Very distracting for me

70 people found this helpful

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Grating Voices

I've listened to dozens of books on Audible, and this performance is the worst. I wish I could rate the performance zero stars. It seems the reader has never actually heard a Japanese, Jewish, or German person speak. They all sound like caricatures. Stereotypes. It's almost offensive. Each Japanese character sounds like a buck-toothed 1940s US propaganda cartoon. The main Jewish character sounds like the unholy offspring of Jackie Mason and Yogi the Bear. The main female character sounds like a Kids in the Hall sketch. I could barely pay attention to the story. Terrible.

128 people found this helpful

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Unfinished

The author never really finished this book. After a while, it's seem to lose focus and he never really tied the story together fully. The television series is actually much better.

30 people found this helpful

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Great Story. Very different from TV Serires

Don't expect a nice, tidy ending, or anything like the TV series that was spun from this story. Each stands alone. In the spirit of the book and the series, approach each one as if they occur in a totally different universe. The complexity of the characters differs dramatically. The book prepares us for two realities other than our own, while the series introduces us to a multiverse. That point made, the book has a great story. Some of the twists and turns come from the author's use of the I Ching to create the directionality and turns in the story. Major characters make hopeful, life-enhancing changes as they proceed through the worlds of the Pacific States, The Reich Territories, and the No-Man's Land in between. Keep an eye out for the changing characters through a story about changing realities. Good read.

5 people found this helpful

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Couldn't bear the voice.

I've listened to the first two chapters and I can't continue. Instead of listening to the story, I can only think about how much I dislike the voice actor.

86 people found this helpful

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I'll never get those hours back

Painful listen. Narrator's accent work on the characters was tough to listen to, as well as, the story that started, jumped around and just ended. Brutal

37 people found this helpful

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I am

A huge fan of the Amazon series so getting this to be able to understand the source versus the series was great. Highly entertaining and recommended for series fans

4 people found this helpful

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Profile Image for Mark Brandon
  • Mark Brandon
  • 03-20-16

If you've seen the Amazon version, read this also

'The Man In The High Castle' is probably Philip K. Dick's second best-known novel (after 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?', which inspired Blade Runner), and the inspiration of a lusciously-produced Amazon series, just about to go into its second season.

As with much of Dick's work, the premise is better than the execution: the Axis has won WWII and has divided up the United States, the Japanese occupying everything west of the Rockies, the Nazis the East Coast and most of the Midwest, with a notionally neutral buffer zone in between.

The novel is very different to the TV series, which takes the book as inspiration rather than following the rambling, ultimately unsatisfying plot and deals much better with character than does the book.

This audiobook, then, acts as an interesting companion volume to the TV series, or a quirky solo 'read'. The focus of the book is much less on the characters, and much more on the Chinese philosophy which links them all (Taoism), which adds dimension to what might otherwise be a rich but essentially political drama. As with every Dick novel, it loses energy, cohesion and sense as it moves towards anti-climax, so don't expect a big payoff.

Narration is decent, though female characters all sound alike and rather breathy and insubstantial (having said that, female characters rarely figure greatly in Dick's novels, so there is nothing much lost).

Not a bad buy, and if you've seen the Amazon series, definitely worth it. If you haven't seen the Amazon series, get yourself a Firestick now!!!

22 people found this helpful

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  • MASTER
  • 01-21-16

Couldn't get into it.

Having been recommended this by a friend who's then girlfriend was setting off to Canada to film the Amazon series I wanted to give this book a go. What I found was a confusingly difficult world to get into. I found the characters hard to follow and remember and struggled every time I went back into this story. I so wanted to like this but ultimately did not.

19 people found this helpful

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  • SLM
  • 01-31-16

Could have been so much better.

The setting of the 'story' is very interesting and certainly what attracted me. However nothing happens in this book. Nothing. You think it is building to something then that part of the plot just finishes. It happens over and over again and the ending is the most disappointing thing about the book.

Also the narrator does some very poor voice work. The female character and the oriental characters are particularly bad.

13 people found this helpful

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  • Mrs
  • 12-14-15

Like listening to brightly coloured paint dry.

So, we have all seen the thrilling trailers for the Prime Series and we want to get a jump on it and listen to the book.Great marketing from Amazon as we will watch the series and get the book. Win win for them.

My advice is don't bother with the book. I've not seen the series but it can't be worse than the book. The trailers alone seem more interesting.

Other than the alternate history slant there is nothing else to this book, the characters are dull and undeveloped and there is barely a story line until the last 2 hours. The author just seems to be using the characters as a vehicle to describe his alternate world and it just makes the whole experience confusing and dull.

The best way I can describe it is like watching two grand-masters play chess. You are watching the chess pieces going about the board with no emotional attachment to them or no idea what on earth their significance is to the over all match. Until BAM! A grand master says 'Check' and you snap out of your lethargy and realise something has happened and you're wondering what it was and what it's significance is. You're then left watching the chase as the grand master goes to finish the match, but you still don't care about the pieces and you're still none the wise as to what the hell is going on.

The narration wasn't the best either, can't put my finger on it but for me it wasn't working.

All in all, the only reason the majority of us is reading this book is because of the series. Not because it is well written and interesting.

41 people found this helpful

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  • AndThink
  • 07-29-15

Starts well but disappointing ending

The story had so much promise, how could it not with such a rich imaginative topic.

However, it ends so abruptly so as to ruin the run up to it, making all that happened before a non-event. Have I missed something?

The narrator does a good job of the voices but the decision to portray Julianna as a simpering weak voice fool made listening to her role difficult and not caring what happens to her.

Shame it missed the mark sadly, for me.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Dean
  • 12-03-15

THE most tedious book I've read

Despite a very promising idea, this was dry, dull and totally lacked any kind of interesting story. TV adaptations nearly always disappoint. I think it is impossible for the TV show to be worse than this. I shall certainly not be delving into any other of this guy's work.

20 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 01-27-20

Spoilt by silly voices

Loved the Amazon TV series, and always been a fan of Philip K Dick, thought I would give this audio book a try. Had to abandon it part way through as the narrator's silly voices for some of the characters (Juliana, the Japanese characters, etc.) became too distracting.

2 people found this helpful

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  • PurplePiglet
  • 03-14-16

Narrator awful

I made the mistake of purchasing this without sampling first, hoping to get through the original story before watching the Amazon TV dramatization. I've only managed to get about an hour in as I cannot stand the narrator. His attempt at voices is laughable, and most of them come out sounding like you little brother mocking someone. It's a real shame as the story has so far been intriguing, but I think I'm going to have to stick to the TV version.

7 people found this helpful

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  • RT
  • 12-31-15

Not all women are stupid

Enjoying the story but the narrator reads all female characters like they're ditzes, even though they're not written that way. It's irritating and jars with the intelligent ideas the female characters often express.

14 people found this helpful

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  • HomeGrownHeroz
  • 01-20-20

Don't read or listen if you are a fan of the show

The show was the loosest adaption I have ever seen and greatly benefitted. The book had no pacing and lacked the interesting conspiracy of the show. I battled through this just to see what the overall ending was and was incredibly disappointed. Would not recommend to anyone.

1 person found this helpful

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  • mitchell
  • 08-31-15

Great

Loved it. Great narration. Fascinating plot. The character's different voices were beautifully done. One of the main titles in the alternative history genre.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-04-19

Disappointed

I've looked forward to this story for years, the story itself was well below the expectations that I'd had built up for me, and the writing was strange. interesting subject, but not executed well

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-22-19

Terrible, simplistic book. TV series is better

Thank god they made the TV series, but don't waste your time on this book. Two-dimensional characters and Julianna is simply bizarre in this.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Hemanth
  • 06-06-18

I didn't get the point of the story at all

Narration was excellent. Story used heavy useless expressions especially to describe the Japanese character's thoughts. Novel doesn't bother to close any of the storyline. I simply failed to understand the point of this book and regret the purchase although I am glad it was an audible version

1 person found this helpful

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  • Robert
  • 06-06-16

Well read audiobook

Classic Philip K. Dick. Builds slowly but becomes engrossing. Mysterious ending. Story is read well.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Michael Haralambous
  • 01-06-20

great book, poor reading

Great book! The reading left a bit to be desired - recommend reading this rather than listening to this version

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  • Anonymous User
  • 12-18-19

Hmmmm...

Somewhat disappointed. The story seemed incomplete. I feel like the characters were we’re not explored properly and the storylines lacked connection. I kept on listening in hopes of an event which brought everything together, however this wasn’t the case.

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  • Astute Shopper
  • 08-19-19

What a let down

I'm a long time scifi fan and love Philip K Dick's works but never read this one. Now i have I was very disappointed. Good idea, told laboriously and goes nowhere. Why do people think it's good?

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  • Simon
  • 06-19-19

Interesting Concept

Amazing idea, but I felt the story lacked any characters that you could like. The accents in the performance were also cringe worthy.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Profile Image for Emmanuel Feliciano
  • Emmanuel Feliciano
  • 03-31-18

Decent

Not a terrible book but not excellent either. A bit disappointing. . . . .

1 person found this helpful