All for Nothing

Walter Kempowski

Published: 5 November 2015
Hardback, Demy HB
138x216mm, 352 pages
ISBN: 9781847087201
£14.99

Other Editions

Paperback

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Published: 7 July 2016
Paperback, B Format
129x198mm, 352 pages
ISBN: 9781847087218
£8.99

Ebook Available

Overview

Winter, January 1945. It is cold and dark, and the German army is retreating from the Russian advance. Germans are fleeing the occupied territories in their thousands, in cars and carts and on foot. But in a rural East Prussian manor house, the wealthy von Globig family tries to seal itself off from the world.

Peter von Globig is twelve, and feigns a cough to get out of his Hitler Youth duties, preferring to sledge behind the house and look at snowflakes through his microscope. His father Eberhard is stationed in Italy - a desk job safe from the front - and his bookish and musical mother Katharina has withdrawn into herself. Instead the house is run by a conservative, frugal aunt, helped by two Ukrainian maids and an energetic Pole. Protected by their privileged lifestyle from the deprivation and chaos around them, and caught in the grip of indecision, they make no preparations to leave, until Katharina's decision to harbour a stranger for the night begins their undoing.

Superbly expressive and strikingly vivid, sympathetic yet painfully honest about the motivations of its characters, All for Nothing is a devastating portrait of the self-delusions, complicities and denials of the German people as the Third Reich comes to an end.


About the author

Image of Walter Kempowski

Walter Kempowski (1929-2007) was one of Germany's most important post-war writers. He settled after the war in Hamburg, but on returning to his home town of Rostock in the late 1940s he was sentenced to 25 years in prison for espionage by a Soviet military tribunal, of which he served eight years, in Bautzen. His first success as an author was the autobiographic novel Tadellöser & Wolff (1971) part of his acclaimed series of novels German Chronicles. In the 1980s he began work on an immense project, Echo Soundings, gathering together first hand accounts, diaries, letters and memoirs of the second world war, which he collated and curated into ten volumes published over 20 years, and which is considered a modern classic. Swansong 1945, published in Germany in 2005, and translated into English here for the first time, is the final volume of that work. More about the author


Reviews

‘A beautiful, forgiving and compassionate book... It reaches its last devastating line with poetic sensibility and the grace of a classical tragedy, confirming Kempowski as a truly great writer... Completely gripping’

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Reviews

‘A novel of profound depth and originality’

‘An epic of exodus, timely for our days’

‘It is brilliant, vivid, unsentimental, fast moving, cinematic and, for all its apparent ease of telling, scrupulously well-structured. The distinguished translator Anthea Bell has conveyed Kempowski's wry tone... Kempowski's late masterwork is a universal tract which suggests that history can only present the facts; it is crafted stories such as this which enable us to grasp a sense of the vicious reality of war’ Eileen Battersby

‘Kempowski portrays with great humanity the thoughts of victims and perpetrators alike’ Anna Katharina Schaffner

‘One of the best books I've ever read’ Jenny Erpenbeck, author

‘Seethes with human drama, contradiction and complexity... An astonishing literary achievement’

‘This is a brilliant, deceptively simple exploration of everyday complicity with evil’

‘Turns a clear-eyed, compassionate gaze on an aristocratic family in East Prussia’

‘With restraint and subtlety, Kempowski explores the ordinariness of complicity with evil... heartbreaking and illuminating’ Antonia Senior





 
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