Aftermath: Book summary and reviews of Aftermath by Harald Jähner

Aftermath

Life in the Fallout of the Third Reich, 1945-1955

by Harald Jähner

Aftermath by Harald Jähner X
Aftermath by Harald Jähner
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Book Summary

How does a nation recover from fascism and turn toward a free society once more? This internationally acclaimed revelatory history of the transformational decade that followed World War II illustrates how Germany raised itself out of the ashes of defeat and reckoned with the corruption of its soul and the horrors of the Holocaust - and features over 40 eye-opening black-and-white photographs and posters from the period.

The years 1945 to 1955 were a raw, wild decade that found many Germans politically, economically, and morally bankrupt. Victorious Allied forces occupied the four zones that make up present-day Germany. More than half the population was displaced; 10 million newly released forced laborers and several million prisoners of war returned to an uncertain existence. Cities lay in ruins—no mail, no trains, no traffic—with bodies yet to be found beneath the towering rubble.

Aftermath received wide acclaim and spent forty-eight weeks on the best-seller list in Germany when it was published there in 2019. It is the first history of Germany's national mentality in the immediate postwar years. Using major global political developments as a backdrop, Harald Jähner weaves a series of life stories into a nuanced panorama of a nation undergoing monumental change. Poised between two eras, this decade is portrayed by Jähner as a period that proved decisive for Germany's future—and one starkly different from how most of us imagine it today.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"In his engrossing first book, Jähner, the former editor of the Berlin Times, examines how and why Germany was capable of radically transforming from a sinister fascist mindset toward a modern democratic state...an expansive yet sharply probing overview of the period...Jähner's shrewdly balanced look at postwar Germany is sure to spark the interest of readers across the world. An absorbing and well-documented history." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"[A] penetrating history of the early postwar period...Elegantly written and translated, Jähner's analysis deploys emotionally resonant detail...to vividly recreate a vibrant, if morally haunted, historical watershed. This eye-opening study enthralls." - Publishers Weekly

"Exemplary [and] important...This is the kind of book few writers possess the clarity of vision to write." - The Sunday Times (UK)

"[M]agnificent...Drawing on the huge literature listed in the bibliography, [Aftermath] takes a lucid overview of the astonishing decade following the defeat of Nazism and the partition of Germany between the Western allies and Soviet Russia...the story is told with judicious impartial intelligence and a light touch: Jähner has no axe to grind and he casts his net wide, fully aware of the large patches of grey morality through which he is treading. There are great lessons in the nature of humanity to be learnt here." - The Telegraph (UK)

"An extraordinary book of breathtaking scholarship. Jähner shines a light on a dark and almost forgotten period of history to find it pulsating with life." - Jack Fairweather, author of The Volunteer

"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, author of Travelers in the Third Reich

This information about Aftermath shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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More Information

Harald Jähner is a cultural journalist and former editor of the Berlin Times. He has been an honorary professor of cultural journalism at Berlin's University of the Arts since 2011. Aftermath, his first book, won the Leipzig Book Fair Prize in 2019.

Shaun Whiteside is a translator of French, Dutch, German, and Italian literature. He has translated many works of nonfiction and novels, including Manituana and Altai by Wu Ming, The Weekend by Bernhard Schlink, Serotonin by Michel Houellebecq, and Magdalena the Sinner by Lilian Faschinger, which won him the Schlegel-Tieck Prize for German translation in 1997.

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