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Then We Take Berlin (Joe Wilderness series) (English Edition) [Kindle Edition]

John Lawton
4.5 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (2 Kundenrezensionen)

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A candidate for the most entertaining historical novel of the year... fantastically engaging. --USA Today A stylish spy thriller. --The New York Times Lawton's gift for atmosphere, memorable characters and intelligent plotting has been compared to John le Carre, but his dry humor also invokes the late Ross Thomas. Thomas wrote smart espionage that was serious but never, so to speak, without a twinkle in its eye. Never mind the comparisons - Lawton can stand up on his own, and Then We Take Berlin is a gem. --Seattle Times John Lawton finds himself in the same boat as the late Patrick O'Brian - a sublimely elegant historical novelist as addictive as crack but overlooked by too many readers for too long. --Daily Telegraph on A Lily of the Field Admirable, ambitious and haunting, this is the sort of thriller that defies categorisation. I look forward with enthusiasm to the next one. --Spectator on A Lily of the Field John Lawton's books contain such a wealth of period detail, character description and background information that they are lifted out of any category. Every word is enriched by the author's sophistication and irreverent intelligence, by his meticulous research and his wit. --Literary Review on A Lily of the Field


John Holderness, known to the women in his life as 'Wilderness', comes of age during World War II in Stepney, East London, breaking in to houses with his grandfather.

After the war, Wilderness is recruited as MI5's resident 'cat burglar' and finds himself in Berlin, involved with schemes in the booming black market that put both him and his relationships in danger.

In 1963 it is a most unusual and lucrative request that persuades Wilderness to return - to smuggle someone under the Berlin Wall and out of East Germany. But this final scheme may prove to be one challenge too far...

Then We Take Berlin is a gripping, meticulously researched and richly detailed historical thriller - a moving story of espionage and war, and people caught up in the most tumultuous events of the twentieth century.


  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Dateigröße: 1516 KB
  • Seitenzahl der Print-Ausgabe: 434 Seiten
  • ISBN-Quelle für Seitenzahl: 0802121969
  • Verlag: Grove Press (5. November 2013)
  • Verkauf durch: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ASIN: B00FF93NO6
  • Text-to-Speech (Vorlesemodus): Aktiviert
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Aktiviert
  • Verbesserter Schriftsatz: Nicht aktiviert
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 4.5 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (2 Kundenrezensionen)
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: #106.221 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop (Siehe Top 100 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop)

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5.0 von 5 Sternen Interesting, suspenseful, a good read 10. Juli 2014
Von Schenk
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
As a Berliner it's always interesting to read about Berlin in earlier times, cause I know the streets. That's what I liked most in the book. It weawes through London, Berlin and New York from 1945 to the 1960s. The beginning is a little slow, buit you are forced to read on, to find out how all the characters come to meet and how and where this will end. The end I found very suprising, albeit being a little unsatisfactory. Characters are well developed. And events could have just been like that at the time, by what I've heard from contemporaries of the time. A good read, it just didn't knock me off my feet. I read "Berlin - a novel" by Pierre Frei as well, which plays at about the same time in Berlin. I found that book to be more suspenseful, but then again, I haven't read it in Englisch yet. I would recommend "Then We Take Berlin" none the less, it's a good work of fiction.
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4.0 von 5 Sternen Poignant pictures 5. Juli 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
The word pictures painted by the author evoked an emotional anguish in me - for the people of those times, their lives and their tragedies. It was a gripping tale. What happened to Wilderness? i was so engaged by his character i wanted to know more of his life thereafter.
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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 3.8 von 5 Sternen  75 Rezensionen
17 von 18 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen A "stand alone"...or another book in the "Troy" series? 24. August 2013
Von Jill Meyer - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
British writer John Lawton - the author of the Inspector Troy series - has produced a new novel that might drive the reader totally crazy. I am going to compare this latest - a sort of "stand-alone" - with Lawton's previous work, not with spy novels in general.

John Lawton is an excellent writer who wraps meticulously researched history around his fictional characters. He writes about wartime England and the post-war years. "Then We Take Berlin" is not a continuation of the Troy series, though there are several characters from those books who "pop up" in "Berlin". The main character is a young man - John Holderness - who has mastered criminal activity like robbery and selling stolen goods on the London black-market during the war years. Too young to fight, he's drafted after the war and winds up the "glass house" of jail for actions unsuitable for an army private. He's saved from prison by a posh officer who recognises his innate intelligence and sets off polishing young Holderness and turning him into an intelligence operative in Germany. Holderness - who has acquired the nickname "Wilderness" from his many lady friends - is a value to the British secret service in post-war Germany, while conducting smuggling operations in his off-time. Author Lawton sets "Wilderness" off on a great many adventures - some legal, some not - while hatching the most audacious plan for June, 1963.

Okay, here's the problem with "Then We Take Berlin" - the ending. I've read the ending several times and I don't understand it. Did Lawton's publisher take out a couple of - really crucial - pages? Is this novel the first of a series? Am I a complete dimwit? (Probably). While I recognise that in spy/wartime novels very few characters end up who they began as, this book takes unreality to a new high in the last few pages.

So, why am I giving this book a 4 rating rather than, oh, a 3? Because John Lawton is an excellent writer. I mean, really good. And this book is a really good read. What about the "ending"? I don't know. Maybe if Mr Lawton reads this review he'll send me an email and in deepest confidence he will tell me what the hell he meant. And I won't give his secret away. Really...
17 von 19 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen If you like Le Carre, you'll love Lawton! 10. September 2013
Von P. Taylor - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Some years ago I taught creative writing to middle schoolers. We had a lot of fun, with few rules. One of the rules was, if your character gets herself in a mess, have her resolve it in a believable fashion. (Most wanted her to wake up, and "It was only a dream.") Guess my rule is outmoded now, as it seems the last few books I have read, just stop, and leave the character in the "mess" she created. This book followed the same pattern, as other reviewers have complained.

With that bit of whine out of the way, don't miss this book! Lawton is a clever, meticulous writer. His Inspector Troy series had about dried up, and now we have the gifted Joe Wilderness, a trained thief, to help British Intelligence sort out the results of World War II, primarily in Germany. Joe is as refreshing and unusual a character as I have seen grace a page. Lawton has additionally created other brilliant and believable characters, ranging from Joe's brutal father to Nell, a "po faced", but beautiful idealist who Joe falls for.

There are so many brilliant scenes: the comic/sad ending of his safe cracking career with his grandad, the tour through the wrecked lives of the prisoners of Bergen Belsen, the constant fun Joe has poking fun of the British class system, are only a few. John Lawton has worked hard with this book. I agree with another reviewer that he does not get the credit he deserves. I will reread this book for the richness and detail of every scene. I look forward to more about Joe Wilderness, and how he got out of his latest "mess"...that rascal!
10 von 11 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen A bang-up WW2/Cold War thriller that begs to be made into a movie 2. September 2013
Von Ein Kunde - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
John Lawton is on my top-5 list of contemporary authors, so I was excited when I heard he had created a new protagonist, John Wilfrid Holderness. That sounds like a posh name, but he's known by most people as Joe Wilderness, which is a much better fit.

Joe is a London East End wide boy, a chancer who lives on his wits and guile. That's all the more true when his mother is killed in the Blitz, found dead ensconced on a barstool with her gin still sitting in front of her. Joe's grandfather Abner moves Joe into an attic room at his place in Whitechapel, where Abner lives with his longtime girlfriend (and sometime prostitute) Merle.

Abner teaches Joe everything he knows about burglary and safe-cracking. Joe is a quick study, not just about crime, but books, and observing people. Smart and lucky are two different things, though. Just when all the soldiers and sailors are returning home from World War II, Joe is drafted. He's about to be tossed into the punishment cells for insubordination during his basic training when he's plucked out by Lieutenant Colonel Burne-Jones, who's seen Joe's IQ score. Burne-Jones sends Joe to Cambridge to learn Russian and German, and to London for individual tutoring in languages, politics and history.

Of course, Burne-Jones is training Joe to work in military intelligence, but you already figured that out. Off Joe goes to Berlin in 1946, where his job is to assess German citizens looking to get jobs in the de-Nazified country. Aside from that desk job, though, what an amazing time and place for a wide boy. "It was love at first sight. He and Berlin were made for each other. He took to it like a rat to a sewer." In between intelligence jobs for Burne-Jones, Joe can't resist becoming a black market seller, then increasing the stakes in his black market game, which means making ever larger and more dangerous deals; deals that involve crossing over to the Russian sector.

But for Joe, it's not all about sussing out former Nazi bigwigs and scientists by day and smuggling by night. At one of Berlin's nightclubs--famous in the Weimar era for using tabletop telephones and pneumatic tubes so that strangers could propose assignations--Joe meets Christina Helene von Raeder Burckhardt, known by the Brits and Americans as Nell Breakheart. Not because she actually breaks hearts, but because she's so beautiful, inside and out, that they're lining up in hopes of getting their hearts broken. And wouldn't you know, she chooses Joe.

In language so vivid the scenes are alive in your mind, Lawton recreates postwar Berlin, with its ruined buildings, squalid living quarters created in cellars or apartments with shorn-off walls, crews of women who earn rations by clearing rubble in bucket lines, dirty kids harassing occupation forces servicemen for candy bars, the stink of open sewers, fear and despair, and the sweeter scents of money, graft and opportunity. I read a ton of WW2 historical novels and I can't think of another one that does it better.

But the novel isn't all postwar Berlin. It's bookended by the stories of Joe and Nell in the summer of 1963. You know, the summer JFK made his famous visit to Berlin. If there is some of the 1963 plot that is not quite up to snuff (and there is), that takes up a very small proportion of what is a dazzlingly inventive and layered story, packed with fully dimensional characters---several of whom Lawton fans will recognize from Lawton's series of Frederick Troy novels.

I've often wondered why John Lawton hasn't gained the recognition I firmly believe he deserves. I've come to think it might be because of the book world's compulsion to categorize books and authors into easy genres and sub-genres. Lawton's books are most often classified as mystery and espionage, but neither is accurate. As Lawton once commented, they are "historical, political thrillers with a big splash of romance, wrapped up in a coat of noir." The noir comes in because, as you might have suspected reading about Joe Wilderness, John Lawton likes to write about people on the edge, living in a world of shadowy morality.

If you enjoy authors like Ian McEwan, Philip Kerr, Sebastian Faulks and William Boyd, give this book a try, along with his other novels, especially his haunting 2011 title, A Lily of the Field: A Novel.
19 von 23 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
2.0 von 5 Sternen An opposing viewpoint 5. September 2013
Von Medina Molly - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
Aside from interesting historical descriptions of Berlin in the years of its post-WWII partition, this is a disappointing novel. Disjointed plot lines; cardboard characters you don't care about; word plays disrupting the story flow; occasional interjections of Russian and German without translation, adding nothing; a bizarre, abrupt -to the point of drop-off-the-cliff ending: intended, perhaps, to imbue ominous significance to Leonard Cohen's song lyrics, the basis for the book's title --- or to maybe just to insert a hook that would tie this book to a sequel.
2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Loved this story 14. Oktober 2013
Von Amy M Johnston - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
It is ironic that I ran into an elderly friend who was posted in Berlin at the time of this story while I was reading this book. His description of the times was so vivid and matched Lawton's in an every way. My overall point is that this is an absorbing novel that sticks with you for days (maybe longer) after finishing it. Worth the time....
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