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Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.

Shortlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize 2021.

Germany, 1945: a country in ruins. Cities have been reduced to rubble and more than half of the population are where they do not belong or do not want to be. How can a functioning society ever emerge from this chaos?

In bombed-out Berlin, Ruth Andreas-Friedrich, journalist and member of the Nazi resistance, warms herself by a makeshift stove and records in her diary how a frenzy of expectation and industriousness grips the city. The Americans send Hans Habe, an Austro-Hungarian Jewish journalist and US army soldier, to the frontline of psychological warfare - tasked with establishing a newspaper empire capable of remoulding the minds of the Germans. The philosopher Hannah Arendt returns to the country she fled to find a population gripped by a manic loquaciousness, but faces a deafening wall of silence at the mention of the Holocaust.

Aftermath is a nuanced panorama of a nation undergoing monumental change. 1945 to 1955 was a raw, wild decade poised between two eras that proved decisive for Germany's future - and one starkly different to how most of us imagine it today. Aftermath evokes an immersive portrait of a society corrupted, demoralised and freed - all at the same time.

©2021 Harald Jähner (P)2021 Penguin Audio

Critic reviews

"Magisterial, fascinating, humane - a brilliant book of the greatest importance and achievement." (Philippe Sands)

"Absolutely extraordinary. Every page stops you dead with insight and revelation." (James Hawes)

"For those who want to understand the Germans, Aftermath is essential reading. Anyone with even the slightest interest in history and the human condition should read this book." (Julia Boyd)

What listeners say about Aftermath

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  • Overall
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Important story poorly narrated

This is a well researched and important piece of history. Great store has been placed in ensuring accurate German pronunciation. The narrator is clearly fluent in German.

However, as the story unfolded it became distracting and gratingly pedantic that while he could rattle off names, words and places in flawless German he struggled with English. Words like consequently and hierarchy were distorted and, near the end, a complete misreading: ‘popular’ opposite (surely polar?). I’d have been happier with a more melodious and less technocratic voice in anglicised German. It’d have been easier to listen to. Great to tell a serious story in a serious manner, but the serious intent was undermined: perfect German sat awkwardly with imperfect English. It definitely lost something for me in it’s delivery.

1 person found this helpful

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Superb

Educational even for someone with knowledge of this period. Thought provoking especially now ......

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Germany culture and conscience, explained

shines a new light with original research to get behind the Nazi project, this book examines in great detail, the fall of the Nazis. It looks at the role of the both individual Germans and the collective calibration (and denial) in the aftermath of defeat. The reader is excellent but I slowed the pace down to 0.95 to allow it flow better. the sentences are cut too tight without the necessary pause, but setting the rate a bit slower sorted this. A very important and must read book. Highly recommended!

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Interesting account of Germany after the Nazis

A captivating account of Germany in the post war years of denazification.

The story resonated with me as my grandmother was German and Grandfather Austrian. The book overlapped the stories I heard of their experience after the war.

The author captures the complexity of the struggle of German conscience but also the problem of collective guilt which was thrust on that nation.

The messy gritty reality of Germany and the German people and it's various victims after the fall of Hitler was captured well in what I found a fascinating book and one of my favourite history listens. The audio book was also well narrated.

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Brilliant history, superb prose, surprises too

I've spent fifty or more years reading of WW2 and it's Aftermath... but this was still full of history I wasn't aware of.

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Great book Great Narrator speak s German very good

Fañtastic book I liked it from start to finish the narrator was very good

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Germany : What happened next?

An extraordinary detailed social history of the decade after WW2 in Germany. In between the warmth and admiration for those were able to build the Germany of today, is an exposure of the hypocrisy and failure to recognise their part in the creation of the Nazi state. This is as much a book of daily lives, of food and furniture and love and art, as it is a social history of political reform.

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Excellent info.

Only reason for 4star is that it could be more succinct. Sam Peter Jackson is a star narrator.