The Kindly Ones

The Kindly Ones

A Novel

Book - 2009
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Random House, Inc.
Oh my human brothers, let me tell you how it happened.

Dr. Max Aue, the man at the heart of Jonathan Littell’s stunning and controversial novel The Kindly Ones, personifies the evils of the Second World War and the Holocaust. Highly educated and cultured, he was an ambitious SS officer, a Nazi and mass murderer who was in the upper echelons of the Third Reich. He tells us of his experience during the war. He was present at Auschwitz and Babi Yar, witnessed the battle of Stalingrad, and survived the fall of Berlin — receiving a medal from Hitler personally in the last days of Nazi Germany.

Long after the war, he is living a comfortable bourgeois life in France, married with two children, managing a lace factory. And now, having evaded justice, he speaks out, giving a precise and accurate record of his life. The tone of his account is detached, lapidary, and for the most part unrepentant, whether he is describing his participation in mass murder on the Eastern Front, his bureaucratic investigations of labour productivity in the death camps, his casual murder of civilians as he tries to break through Russian lines towards the end of the war, or his fervid and convoluted relationship with his twin sister.

Over its course, by entwining Aue’s life with those of historical figures such as Eichmann and Speer, Himmler and indeed Hitler, The Kindly Ones comes to depict the entire architecture of Nazism — from its grandest intellectual pretensions to its most minute, most chilling managerial details and executions. The Kindly Ones presents — with unprecedented realism, meticulous research that is both fascinating and compelling, and brilliant literary accomplishment — the greatest horrors imaginable.

“War and murder are a question, a question without an answer, for when you cry out in the night, no one answers,” Aue says. In the same way, this powerfully affecting, powerfully challenging book confronts the reader with the most profound questions about history, morality, and art without offering any easy resolution. Written originally in French, and published now in English for the first time, The Kindly Ones has already sold to date well over a million copies in Europe. In France it won two prestigious prizes, including the Goncourt, and has been compared to War and Peace and other great classics of literature.

Publisher: Toronto : McClelland & Stewart, c2009
ISBN: 9780771051531
Branch Call Number: FIC LIT
Characteristics: 983 p. ;,24 cm.
Additional Contributors: Mandell, Charlotte


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Chapel_Hill_KenMc Dec 17, 2014

Brutally detailed fictional memoir of an SS officer participating in the extermination of Jews. A committed Nazi ideologue, the narrator presents himself to us as a rational actor who offers no apologies for obeying orders and carrying out his "duty." Yet he is also shown to be a psychopath who experiences episodes of hallucinogenic detachment and self-loathing. A devious narrative that challenges us to examine the gradual series of decisions or non-decisions that lead from national pride to state-sanctioned murder and finally genocide. At 1,000 pages, however, Littell could use a more assertive editor.

boonerator Mar 12, 2013

At at 1000 pages, be prepared to skip large sections. The protagonist has no redeeming qualities and the writing is often scatalogical and graohic.

The history in it is massive, it follows him through the horrors and describes the bureaucratic games of the Nazis, which is difficult to read.

For the history, read "Bloodlands, Eastern Europe between Hitler and Stalin." Or any of the last few Bernie Gunther novels from Philipp Kerr.
Shorter and less disgusting.

Jan 25, 2012

OMG this is monster book. Probably too long, but the detail is amazing. How did Littell ever accomplish so much detailed research? Herr Aue is quite a character - completely amoral and at the same time cultured and dedicated to his task. I really don't like the long paragraphs or long sentences. I would recommend this but not to my Jewish friends as it might to too hard to take the hideous acts of violence. It is beyond me how anyone would be talented enough to write such a book.

Not for the faint of heart. Some translation errors.

Nov 12, 2009

A rather grim read but rather interesting.

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Nov 16, 2009

Dexter_Morgan thinks this title is suitable for 20 years and over


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