@READ DOWNLOAD õ Les Bienveillantes ⚜ eBook or E-pub free

So the war The Second one Or is that the Second One Do we capitalise all Things Pertaining to the War I think it s appropriate to capitalise when referring to the Greatest Atrocity in All of Mankind or if not appropriate, respectful And people, well, people keep writing books about It That War That Pesky War This near 1000 page novel is the rambling testament of SS officer Dr Max Aue, devoted Hauptsturmf hrer Captain , later Standartenf hrer Major , semi repentant monster and lunatic, following his humble beginnings liquidating all non Aryans to his time, uh, liquidating all non Aryans.The novel is written in a flat first person prose, heavily factual with some surgical dissections of the narrator s complex emotional life The breadth of research on display is outstanding Littell spent five years researching and less than a year writing the book and the reader gets swept along in these rhythmic flows of gruesome insider information blandly descriptive horrors keep the reader going through shock, acting as an unfortunate emotional catalyst Largely, however, the book is about the collapsing bureaucracy of the Nazi regime, rendering absurd their illogical brand of single minded barbarism as a kind of Weltanschauung through cold unbiased fact.Critics of the book complain about the narrator s obsession with excrement, but excrement acts as an unpleasant metaphor for his disturbed mental state, for the rotten world of wartime Europe Max Aue might have murdered his mother and stepfather, and still holds a torch for his sister whom he sodomised as a teenager This warped one way romance builds to a devastating pitch 900 pages in worth the wait where he falls into a perverse erotic fantasy, merging his body to his sister s by writhing in her bed sheets, imagining himself back in the snug seat of his mother s womb The suggestion being Max, nor his colleagues, should have ever left the womb, or ever ceased being infants.Plus, critics hate long novels They have to review four or five per week, they can t be doing with 1000 page monsters with conflicting moral messages This Novel About the War, however, is an absolutely breathtaking piece a fresh and contentious addition to an already bursting market Sure, it has its flaws suffocating marshes of micro detail and long dialogues between SS officers of an often tedious nature, but the overall execution is coolly done, as if JG Ballard had written about the War Oh, hang on So, if you have a spare 25 hours this week, make this one a priority A modern classic No But damn good. , Littell SS Max Aue Aue ,. @READ DOWNLOAD ó Les Bienveillantes ⛑ Nell Europa Travolta Dalla Furia Nazista, L Epopea Tragica Ed Efferata Di Un Ufficiale Dell SS, Maximilien Aue, Ci Fa Rivivere Gli Orrori Della Guerra Dal Punto Di Vista Terribile E Ripugnante Dei CarneficiNato In Alsazia Da Patre Tedesco E Madre Francese, Maximilien Aue Dirige Sotto Falso Nome Una Fabbrica Di Merletti Nel Nord Della Francia Svolge Bene Il Suo Lavoro, Un Uomo Preciso Ed Efficiente Preciso Ed Efficiente, Del Resto Lo Era Stato Anche Negli Anni Del Nazismo, Quando Fra E Aveva Fatto Carriera Nelle SS In Germania Pure Essendo Un Nazionalsocialista Convinto, Il Giovane E Brillante Giurista Era Entrato Per Caso Nel Corpo, Punta Di Diamante Del Reich Hitleriano Fermato Dalla Polizia Dopo Un Incontro Omosessuale, Aveva Accettato Di Arruolarsi Per Evitare La Denuncia Nel Max Sul Fronte Orientale, Dove D Il Suo Contributo Al Genocidio Di Ebrei, Zingari E Comunisti Trasferito Nel Caucaso E Poi Nella Stalingrado Accerchiata Dall Armata Rossa, Sopravvive Miracolosamente A Una Grave Ferita Dopo Il Rientro In Germania, Lavora A Stretto Contatto Con Tutta La Gerarchia Nazionalsocialista La Guerra Ormai Persa, Tuttavia, E La Wehrmacht Arretra Su Tutti I Fronti Al Crepuscolo Del Nazismo, Viene In Aiuto A Max Il Suo Bilinguismo Assumendo L Identit Di Un Francese Deportato In Germania, Riesce A FuggireTrascinato Dalla Corrente Della Storia E Inseguito Da Fantasmi Che, Come Le Furie Benevole Dei Greci, Le Eumenidi, Cercano Vendetta, Max Aue Parte Di Noi, La Parte Pi Nera So what s the most atrocious thing you ve seen Man, of course The Kindly Ones polarized both readers and critics all over the world They argued on its literary values and scandalous content, pornocaust or holokitsch were amongst epithets, felt poised between admiration for the gigantic work Littell done and themes he researched and final product and message it delivered The genre itself confounded almost everyone, was it a history novel or quasi document, a literary fiction or fictionalized story And autoportrait of Nazi official and aesthete was widely discussed I can t say anything new or revealing on its subject so only some words about how this reader feels with this book The novel stuns with verve and panache, bewilders with erudition and literateness, overwhelms with magnitude of information, names and facts The author had to dig through hundreds of historical documents up Sometimes effect feels fascinating, especially deliberations on the vision of national socialism or motivations of the narrator of the novel, then again horrifying with descriptions of mass murders or concentration camps, and at times just fatiguing due to neverending reports full of names and military ranks It strikes with enormity of violence and cruelty, with graphic depiction of every crime imaginable, and pornographic and scatological content and its matter of fact narrative comes almost as a shock Combining sex with violence, or precisely sexuality with Nazism is nothing new or original in literature or film William Styron did it in Sophie s choice and Lucchino Visconti in his stunning masterpiece The Damned, I prefer the Polish titleZmierzch Bog w refering to Wagner s opera What makes this book unique and shocking, and what sometimes is its the biggest flaw, is the figure of narrator, Maximilian Aue To establish a murderer main protagonist, to make us read his testimony, hear his thoughts, acknowledge that he escaped, in a way, justice was clever though rather dangerous task At first everything starts rather innocently, I hope the ironic undertone can be sensed, Max is sensitive and kind of fragile man We do not know at this point how deeply damaged he is, how unstable, and how twisted his family issues are He doesn t like the idea of extermination but since Germans and Germany comes to him first thus he succumbs to orders But he doesn t approve unnecessary humiliation and cruelty towards people that were to be killed On Ukraine he not only observes killings but also as any other officer has to participate in it what effects a nervous breakdown And it only keeps getting worse from now Max is well educated, enamoured with literature and music, he quotes from memory ancient philosophers and yet is dilligent and amenable cog in machine, a valuable member of horrendous system Maximilian Aue seems to confuse ethics with aesthetics but by no means is only bureaucratic murderer He can in one breath talk about wisdom of ancient authors and beauty of human, well, male s body, about love and music and at the same time being able to participate at executions As he admits himself at some point while standing over graves of murdered Jews I was haunted by the passion for the absolute and the transcending of limits And this duality makes him interesting narrator.In The Kindly Ones can be spotted quite dinstinct references to The Oresteia, a killing of mother and stepfather, an incestuous relationship with sister and the title outright appeals to Erinyes, the gracious ones, translated also as kindly ones, incarnation of vengeance There were criticisms that by employing the ancient idea of fate Littell intended to justify Max , or in wider perspective German, deeds and omissions or lessen his crimes.The novel explores acts that were done not by madmen or lunatics but by technocrats, lawyers, economists and administration Littell examines damages done to ordinary soldiers that had to face with mass extermination especially in the first days of war, tries to draw a line between them and psychopaths and degenerate individuals relishing these deeds Through Max eyes allows us to experience war at Ukraine, Russia and Poland, leads us through battle of Stalingrad, hell of Auschwitz Birkenau to final days in Berlin He shows the birth of the idea of Final Solution and its bringing into existence He depictures Holocaust as a kind of enterprise, a unique project that had to be done and gives us almost technical instruction of genocide Report of Max is coldly precise and detailed then again hallucinatory and delirious but always intense and powerful The novel is truly gruesome and though I can t say, for example, the slaughter in Babi Jar ravine was alien to me yet the description made me sick Max makes his remorseless confession many years after the war ended, regrets, that s for children as his colleague Eichmann would say, and what strikes me the most is his statement that we are not better men than he was, merely luckier to live in different times and not forced to make his choices In a way he makes us almost his accomplices who only by a bit of luck could avoid his fate I find this revelation quite disturbing Max is not trying to play a martyr or victim to ask for our forgiviness, no, he wants our sympathy and understanding for who or what he was And it s even disquieting And thought provoking I do not regret anything I did my work, that s all as for my family problems, which I might also talk about, they concern no one but me and as for the rest, I probably did go a little far toward the end, but by that point I was no longer entirely myself, I was off balance, and anyhow the whole world was toppling around me, I wasn t the only one who lost his head, admit it. I live, I do what can be done, it s the same for everyone, I am a man like other men, I am a man like you I tell you I am just like youJonathan Littell, The Kindly Ones This is a hard book to review It is like walking out of a David Lynch movie and feeling brain raped by the artist How exactly to you attempt to explore the depths of Nazi Germany without feeling dark, abused, and sick afterwards From conversations I ve had with those who ve hated this novel and British critics I ve read there is far too much shit, incest, anal sex and death Certainly But how exactly do you descend into the depths of Nazi hell without pushing through gouts of madness, clumps of wickedness and wads of depravity You don t.Littell uses Obersturmbannf hrer Maximilien Aue a cultured , SS Zelig to explore how an unrepentant rationalist, a bureaucrat, an intellectual could participate in, defend, and justify the extermination of a race Aue doesn t wrestle any Jewish angels No, he wrestles himself, his country, his ideology, his sanity The slow decent of mad Max is a way for Littell to explore the absurd and tortured NAZI self justifications for their actions Littell also uses Max to incriminate us all as a species How close are we to those in Germany during WWII We like to think we are better, moral, kinder, respectable, innocent Are we Or are we simply blessed by chance because we don t find ourselves surrounded by madness, wickedness, and final solutions Does circumstance and chance really make us better Does the fact that we find ourselves, by fate s mad roll, distant from both victim AND victimizer give us any room to think we exist in a field that really separates us from the horrors of Germany or Nigeria, or Sudan, or Afghanistan, or Somolia, or Serbia, or Cambodia, or Burma, or North Korea Again, this is not a novel for the faint of heart or my mother It doesn t have a happy ending Hell, it doesn t have a happy beginning, middle, or single clean signature It is a cold book sewn together with sick corruptions, musical madness, and omnipresent death It is a dance of evil, a fugue of plagues, a bile filled nightmare on every page Yes, I m glad I read it, but I m also sure as f k glad it is finished. It Begins and Ends in Bad PoliticsIt is possible for human beings to justify all behaviour, no matter how irrational and cruel Because this is so, some philosophers justify their view that moral norms must lie outside of human control, that there must be a God who knows what good behaviour is This justification is also irrational and frequently just as cruel As for example when the philosophers and theologians of Nazism preached radical anti Semitism based on universal genetic imperatives of tribal competition Inhumanity, therefore, is what human beings are good at As one of Littell s characters has it, there is no such thing as inhumanity There is only humanity and humanity This from a man whose job it was to kill wounded German soldiers who were of no further usefulness.Nevertheless, irrationality and cruelty have to be arrived at incrementally One s political and legal culture cannot be radically altered too suddenly lest irrationality and cruelty become obvious and rejected as such It takes time to create new, not to say contradictory, social attitudes War is a tried and true method for cultural change War is preceded by exclusionary politics to prepare the collective psyche War then has its own inevitable agenda of escalating brutality The aftermath of war requires its own victims These are supplied by another sort of exclusionary politics The definition of justice, a reliable barometer of social norms, invariably changes to accommodate the times Littell has Adolph Eichmann summarise the situation politics change people The Kindly Ones is a fictional exploration of the process of radical cultural and political change in Germany from the 1930 s to the 1950 s The protagonist and narrator, Max Aue, is a gay SS officer This irony is compounded by the fact that he is a lawyer and classically educated into a culture of civility and reflective empathy He writes like a German Vassily Grossman not to defend but to merely describe his actions and motivations Slipping slowly from unconcern to acceptance to assimilation to diseased monster, Max isn t German or inherently psychotic or evil he is Everyman It is as Everyman that Max plays a role in the Final Solution for the Judaism of Eastern Europe in fomenting retribution of Jews by Poles and Ukrainians, in the Einzatsgruppen, whose job it was to murder all Jews found in Russian territory conquered by the Wehrmacht, and in the preparation and supply of victims for the death camps The scenes depicted are well rehearsed in many other books on the Holicaust Littell s take is innovative only because it is created from the point of view of the murderers, capturing their experiences and mental states as the war is prepared for, progresses, and ends What they see is the terror of their own lives in the dystopia they have created Meditating briefly on Auschwitz, Max muses, Wasn t the camp itself, with all the rigidity of its organization, its absurd violence, its meticulous hierarchy, just a metaphor, a reductio ad absurdum of everyday life The camps are the source of a new German culture a breeding ground for mental illnesses and sadistic deviations Max knows he is participating in a war like none before, when the State is democratized then all of a sudden war becomes total and terrible Only modern democracy is capable of the atrocities of war on a scale which would not have been tolerated in any other form of government The democratic state has powers of coercion over its own citizens that could never be claimed by any monarch.Democracy also possesses the cultural force necessary to turn evil into good through purely social sanctions The murderer of wounded soldiers, for example, killed people or had them killed, so he s Evil but within himself, he was a good man to those close to him, indifferent to all others, and, what s , one who respected the law What do we ask of the individual in our civilized, democratic cities Judging by the evidence of the 20th century, democracy uses its powers frequently and with less cause than any other form of government Democracy inhibits conscience and promotes evil just as effectively as the alternatives In fact by legitimatising greed for reputation and ambition for power, democracy provides a welcoming framework for their development This is one of the principle messages of the book A message as relevant in the age of Trump and Putin as it was in the age of Hitler and Stalin There may be no Cosmic Organizer but there should be at least a few resistors who can stand against the flow of insanity that pops up from time to time in democracies As Max knows, The past is never over. The Kindly Ones is an unsentimental journey to the darkest side of the human history Fascism turned the Germany into a factory of death And every factory must have an effective technology So any technology must be perfected and the technology of murder as well.Killing was a terrible thing the reaction of the officers was a good proof of that, even if they didn t all draw the consequences of their own reactions and the man for whom killing was not a terrible thing, killing an armed man as well as an unarmed man, and an unarmed man as well as a woman and her child, was nothing but an animal, unworthy of belonging to a community of men But it was possible that this terrible thing was also a necessary thing and in that case we had to submit to this necessity Our propaganda repeated over and over again that the Russians were Untermenschen, sub humans but I refused to believe that.The novel is an uncompromising story of fascism starting with its bloodthirsty snarl at humanity and ending with its agony and rigor mortis Ideology can pitilessly transform an ordinary man into a killing machine and use it until this machine breaks.But even in such inhumanly perfect society as fascist state there are corruption, intrigues, hatred and fear and they keep destroying the power from within And the rest of humankind started destroying fascism from without So what s the most atrocious thing you ve seen He waved his hand Man, of course I meant medically Medically, atrocious things don t interest me in the least On the other hand one does see extraordinary curiosities, which completely revise our notions of what our poor bodies can endure What, for example Well, a man will catch a tiny piece of shrapnel in the calf that will slice through the peroneal artery and he ll die in two minutes, still standing, his blood emptied into his boot without his noticing Yet another man might take a bullet through the head, from one temple to the other, and will get up on his own to walk to the first aid post What an insignificant thing we are, I commented Precisely War is a most atrocious evil and it is capable to lower human being to the primordial animal state so humans become monsters, beasts and cattle. Rating 3 of fiveThe Publisher Says Oh my human brothers, let me tell you how it happened So begins the chilling fictional memoir of Dr Maximilien Aue, a former Nazi officer who has reinvented himself, many years after the war, as a middle class family man and factory owner in France.Max is an intellectual steeped in philosophy, literature, and classical music He is also a cold blooded assassin and the consummate bureaucrat Through the eyes of this cultivated yet monstrous man, we experience in disturbingly precise detail the horrors of the Second World War and the Nazi genocide of the Jews During the period from June 1941 through April 1945, Max is posted to Poland, the Ukraine, and the Caucasus he is present at the Battle of Stalingrad and at Auschwitz and he lives through the chaos of the final days of the Nazi regime in Berlin Although Max is a totally imagined character, his world is peopled by real historical figures, such as Eichmann, Himmler, Goring, Speer, Heyrich, Hoss, and Hitler himself.A supreme historical epic and a haunting work of fiction, Jonathan Littell s masterpiece is intense, hallucinatory, and utterly original Published to impressive critical acclaim in France in 2006, it went on to win the Prix Goncourt, that country s most prestigious literary award, and sparked a broad range of responses and questions from readers How does fiction deal with the nature of human evil How should a novel encompass the Holocaust At what point do history and fiction come together and where do they separate A provocative and controversial work of literature, The Kindly Ones is a morally challenging read it holds up a mirror to humanity and the reader cannot look away.My Review The Kindly Ones is than a morally challenging read it makes me feel deeply unclean I don t have any idea what I would do, in the same circumstances as the author sets his protagonist into, but I suspect I would have been this protagonist had the same things happened to me at the same ages Nowwell, a 50 year old is a different creature than a 22 year old, no matter that us 50 ers want to think otherwise.I abandoned this book, a library 14 day checkout, at p364 Ivan and Max who is our protagonist are scuttling around looking for Croats, and I ran aground when Feldgendarmen and ACHTUNG MINIEN occurred in close proximity I just could not endure one moment of German military terminology and I dislike the German language with sincere fervor, and then there is the slickly sickly slimy Max, with whom I can t bear to spend one eyeblink but good lord people, the amount I ve already read would be a novel by itself As anyone who s ever read one of my reviews knows, I don t do book reports The events of this book aren t in any way a surprise to you if you ve been awake in the past year I can say, though, that anyone who wants to deny the existence of a Holocaust would do well to read this novel It feels like the events could not possibly be true No one could live through this, perpetrator or not, and face life as a sane being ever again So far as I am aware, the German nation did not have a huge insanity problem after WWII, so ipso facto there was no Holocaust Littell s story shows how well he understands the history of the factual Holocaust, and his choice of a protagonist shows how well he understands human nature and its strengths It s a deeply disturbing book for that reason alone That a man could imagine this character, could write about him in his own voice and with clarity, precision, and artistry, is unsettling to my vision of authors as refiners of reality into truth.If Truth can contain this, there is no safe place anywhere.And there isn t This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Lugging this gigantic book around, from Omaha to Minneapolis to Dubai to Chicago back to Omaha, I began to question why I was reading it It s nearly a thousand pages long it s poorly translated it was apparently edited by a monkey dying of Ebola it has paragraphs that run on for pages, and pages, and pages for some reason, there is no indentation for dialogue, so you re left guessing which indistinguishable character is saying which facile stilted cliched boring thing the translation is imprecise and the overuse of the semicolon is rampant In the end, the unasked question why are you reading this is answered by a phrase provided me by the US Supreme Court s case law on obscenity it appealed to my prurient interest The Kindly Ones is an ambitious wreck It s a hot mess, but with aspirations It s opening line Oh my human brothers, let me tell you how it happened smacks of Homer Indeed, right up until the penultimate chapter, I was halfway enjoying it The novel, told in first person my SS officer Maximilien Aue, attempts to encompass the whole horror of the Holocaust Like a sadistic, bloodstained Forrest Gump, Aue bounces from einsatz aktions in the Caucuses there is a grim depiction of the massacre at Babi Yar , to the winter hell of Stalingrad, to the concentration camps of Auschwitz, and finally to Hitler s bunker and the twilight of the gods I heard of this book by way of its controversy It was a big hit in France, which should forever lay to rest any lingering belief that the French know anything about art Here in America, it was severely panned by none other than Michiko Kakutani When she described its unsavory elements murder, incest, sodomy, unrelenting gore I knew I had to purchase this work immediately.At first, through about 850 pages, I thought the controversy was a whole lot of nothing Yes, there were some graphic passages, especially dealing with the einsatzkommandos slaughtering thousands of Jews and other undesirables by firing squad Yet this is what good historical fiction does it takes us to that place in time In this instance, that place and time is unimaginably dark, but that doesn t mean that some light shouldn t be shed I thought the recreation of the Belorussian slaughter was powerful I also thought there were some clever moments, as when Aue meets a Caucasian peasant who has been gifted with the ability to have all memories at once The peasant leads Aue to the mountain summit where Aue is supposed to kill him For the most part, though, the book was and I hate to say the word dull Hannah Arendt was right evil is banal The book is filled with non characters There are names a veritable who s who of Nazi Germany, with cameos by Himmler, Kaltenbrunner, Speer, Eichmann, and Mengele For the most part, though, they remain names, an undifferentiated mass There is an fascinating bit, here and there, such as a dinner party with Eichmann, or a grouse hunt with Speer, but they are lost in a sea of never ending crap prose There are lengthy, turgid passages on Caucasian languages, and a dense, meandering conversation about the similarities between Bolshevism and Fascism Also, there are endless mentions of poop Its smell Aue s need to evacuate his bowels detailed descriptions of said evacuation, etc I ve never been exposed to such scatological descriptions, and hope never to be again Still, nothing too loopy Sure, Aue is in love with his twin sister, with whom he had an incestuous relationship, but this dark angle is not dwelt upon in relation to how much Aue dwells on poop And he also may or may not have killed his mother, but this is just soap drama I started to think that Michiko might have been wrong Where is the sick, depraved stuff that lured me in and just to editorialize a little, I feel that many of these book reviews are very regressive when it comes to sexuality just because Aue is a homosexual does not make him deviant there is an underlying whiff of homophobia in many of the pans I ve read Then, at page 865, I came to that chapter Suffice it to say, it involves a lot of auto asphyxiation, masturbation, and defecation I could ve done without that Moreover, this all occurs while the Russians are encircling Berlin With the whole nation collapses, Aue manages to get vacation time so he can spend some time with himself That stretches credulity In fact, the whole endgame of this enormous book is terrible Everything falls apart There isn t a single believable instance Anthony Beevor, I m surprised at you for suggesting this book It s not just that Aue is led to Hitler s bunker and does something completely ridiculous, it s that in the final pages, all the main characters somehow meet each other Really The Russians are pouring into the city, bombs are bursting, mortar rounds are exploding, buildings are burning, bullets are whistling, yet everyone manages to come together for a final, bloody denouement This utter collapse the same malady affecting The Dark Knight really ruined things for me For as I said, up till that time, this book has a lot of interesting things to offer There are vivid, nightmarish descriptions that would make Dante proud There is a strangely beautiful, ghastly scene in which Aue goes swimming in the Volga outside Stalingrad The swift current created whirlpools that soon carried me away under the ice All kinds of things were passing by me, which I could clearly make out in this green water horses whose feet the current was moving as if they were galloping, fat and almost flat fish, bottom feeders, Russian corpses with swollen faces, entwined in their curious brown capesAbove me, the ice formed an opaque screen, but the air lasted in my lungs, I wasn t worried and kept swimming, passing sunken barges full of handsome young men sitting in rows, their weapons still in their hands, little fish threading through their hair agitated by the current Then slowly in front of me the water grew lighter, columns of green light plunged down from holes in the ice, became a forest, then melded into each other as the blocks of ice drifted farther apart There are parts of this book that reminded me of the sweep of Herman Wouk s The Winds of War and War and Remembrance, if those great books had been written by Cormac McCarthy Then there are parts of this book that remind me of Team America World Police It s an interesting book, and I mean interesting in the Confucian sense There are incredible moments, some of which I ve mentioned, others I can only note in passing, such as gripping scenes set during the bombing of Berlin There are moments of pure inanity, as Aue a self righteous, pretentious, preening gasbag holds forth on various topics in his grating, solipsistic manner the tragedy of Aue not being able to fornicate with his sister tends to pale next to the murder of 6 million Jews Then there are moments of sheer weirdness, such as a dream sequence in which Rudolf Hoess, commandant of Auschwitz, masturbates next to Aue s bed I don t know why, though perhaps this could be a thesis topic if I ever go for my PhD in English I guess the best praise I can give this book is that it got a reaction from me Which ain t nothing. I felt like abandoning this just about every day At times it irritated me, at others it bored me My stubborn nature finally won out though and I ploughed through all its 975 pages It s always going to be an act of hubris to believe you can explain the Nazis The Kindly Ones purports to offer an insight into the transformation of an ordinary young man into a Nazi monster Early on, Max Aue, the narrator, an SS Obersturmbannf rher, makes a case that all of us might have done what the Germans did in their place, that we are mistaken to believe that what the Nazis did was some sort of unique phenomenon confined to Germans in the middle of the 20th century First off, I m not sure most of us do believe that We might not believe the scale of the Nazi death machine could be repeated but racial hatred is still a political factor in modern life Fervent nationalism, a disenfranchised underclass, an economic crisis and a handy racial scapegoat are the first prerequisites for a fascist state Many countries are presently vulnerable There are still plenty of potential Nazis in the world and probably always will be Nor do I think most of us delude ourselves that we would have actively opposed the Nazis were we living under the terrifying close surveillance of the Gestapo However, there s a big difference between, for example, turning a blind eye and zealously reporting anyone you don t like to the Gestapo an even bigger difference between serving as a soldier in the regular army and executing naked women and children by the side of the ditches The author however tells us all are equally culpable, that there s no difference between a member of the Einsatzgruppen and the railway worker who changed the tracks for the freight cars With this logic the airline employees who sold the 9 11 terrorists their tickets were no less responsible for the deaths in the twin towers than the terrorists themselves Of course, the Nazis held to a mantra of collective responsibility so, given our narrator is an unrepentant Nazi, we can perhaps forgive him his trite philosophising But seeing as Littell begins with this idea of collective responsibility you assume he will have as his narrator a kind of everyman who will bear his theory out that we are all potential Nazis Before long though we find out our narrator s pivotal childhood memory is of engaging in anal sex with his twin sister at the age of twelve I stopped here to ask myself how many people there are currently in the world who have known this experience I concluded less probably than people born with three eyes Max Hue is like some twisted adolescent fantasy character conceived after immersing oneself in the complete works of the Marquis De Sade In fact, twisted sexuality is often a subplot, with the suspicion that the author is implying that Nazism was some kind of symptom of sexual deviation Max Hue is a closet homosexual he s also an intellectual and an aesthete In other words, everything the Nazis loathe He could hardly be less representative of a typical Nazi I never once understood why the author chose to make his narrator so preposterously unbelievable Probably the one thing he did do well for me was to delve into the dissociative ingenuity of the human brain But dissociative identity disorder was an inevitable consequence of Nazi barbarity rather than, as Littell implies, its cause I could have got past this misgiving about the foundations of his central reasoning if the novel hadn t very quickly showed innumerable sins of crude artistry Strip this book of its reportage, its non fiction and what remains is a framework of gothic kitsch A man as a child engages in anal sex with his twin sister, idolises his father for no apparent reason, later murders his mother and stepfather, is pursued throughout the war by a couple of preposterous Keystone cops who are still intent on bringing him to justice when the Russians are advancing down a neighbouring Berlin street It s often like bad slapstick comedy which Littell perhaps acknowledges when, towards the end, his narrator takes a fervent dislike to Hitler s physiognomy and instead of accepting the medal from his f hrer sinks his teeth into Adolf s nose and then speculates why history has remained unaware of this event A whole section is devoted to Aue s sexual fantasies In a novel of nearly a thousand pages the last thing we need is an endless repetitive cataloguing of all the ways Aue comes up with to desecrate his sister s home He made his point and then went on making it for forty odd pages Then there s the dialogue The dialogue is consistently bad Even straightforward exchanges are heavy handed and bereft of fluidity Often a character is drafted in with an encyclopaedic knowledge of a section s pertinent subject which allows Littell to write long unbroken treatises in the form of thoroughly unconvincing dialogue There s the feeling the author wants to cram in absolutely everything he s read about the war The most impressive thing about it for me was the quantity of research that went into its construction But this is also one of its problems because with its endless lists of SS officials and departments it often reads like a non fiction book with a kind of Forest Gump narrator who always manages to gatecrash every pivotal moment of Nazi history There s little artistry in the way the research is fed into the novel He s there at the Babi Yar massacres, he turns up at Auschwitz and, of course, he finally makes it to the Hitler bunker Also, I often found its voyeurism disturbing than the atrocities themselves He s been accused of being a pornographer of violence and I d agree with that and add to it, a pornographer of bodily functions Another massive problem is the punctuation I don t think I ve ever read a book with such shoddy punctuation Paragraphs continue on for pages with little rhyme or reason Sometimes sentences too At the end of the day you have to ask yourself how well did this novel succeed in its intention of providing an insight into the Nazi psyche I m afraid I didn t buy into Max Hue at all At times you might say it s a brilliantly researched book of non fiction every time however the fiction in it asserts itself I kept feeling Littell is a long way from being a first rate novelist.