Summary and book reviews of The Good American by Ursula Maria Mandel

The Good American

A Novel Based On True Events

by Ursula Maria Mandel

The Good American
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  • Paperback:
    Feb 2001, 249 pages

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Book Summary

The story of a young American pilot and a destitute but spirited young mother who, in 1948, takes the courageous decision to rescue her sister's small daughter out of Berlin on the very day the Russians blockade the city.

The hauntingly beautiful manuscript of a novel, written by the daughter of his father's mistress and reconstructed from a childhood memory, becomes the catalyst of change for a man who cannot forgive his father's infidelity. The manuscript tells the story of a young American pilot and a destitute but spirited young mother who, in 1948, won't take no for an answer when she decides to whisk her sister's small daughter out of Berlin on the very day the Russians blockade the city.

This book is dedicated, among others, to the Good American, wherever he is now. One can't write such a book, however, without also dedicating it to all the women who, after some insanity--whenever and wherever--manage, somehow, and unflinchingly, to pick up the pieces and to go on.

Chapter 1
Politics: A Fragment

On a summer day in 1948, Ruth Karstens, a young widow, and Pauli, her five-year-old niece, made their way gingerly down a densely forested mountain somewhere in eastern Germany. Both were hot, muddy, and exhausted. Pauli, holding on to Ruth's hand, lagged behind more and more, and so it looked as if Ruth were dragging the child down the mountain. A fresh breeze that had stayed behind after a thunderstorm parted the leaves of the trees now and then and gave Ruth a view over the vast, green pastures and barren fields toward where she was headed: a round village at the far horizon out of which stuck a church steeple. In the haze of that humid summer day, the hamlet ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews

Davina - BookBrowse

Set in post war Germany just as the iron curtain is falling, and in 1990s America, this book within a book tells the story of a young woman's desperate, and ultimately successful, attempt to rescue her niece from Berlin, just before the Russian blockade is completed. She is helped by the 'Good American' - an army officer who falls in love with her. Based in large part on Mandel's own mother, this book is an inspirational and poignant read. I find myself replaying many of the scenes again and again - the children playing in the burnt out buildings with chalk from the ruined chandeliers, the old man and his books and many others. This book deserves a wide audience - I highly recommend it to all readers.

Reader Reviews

Anonymous

Gunta Krasts-Voutyras
Ursula Mandel's novel is a painting done with words. Since I was a child of ten in 1945 when WWII ended and played in the rubble of destroyed buildings, begged for food for my family and myself, was dressed in rags and never lost...   Read More

Anonymous
Marguerite, Washington, D.C., August 19, 2001 To the Author:
What a hauntingly, beautiful story! And you have done a wonderful job in
writing--the craftsmanship and design for the presentation of the "before and
after" adds much to the ...   Read More

Anonymous
Joni from California, August 5, 2001
Decisions we make in life aren't always black and white. Ursula Maria
Mandel's novel, The Good American, is a story of real people, and how the
circumstances surrounding their lives determined the decisions they made...   Read More

Anonymous
A reviewer, a true book lover, June 22, 2001
A compelling, captivating story - once you start reading this book, you
cannot put it down. The Good American portrays life in post-war Germany through
two storylines - a woman's quest to rescue her sister's ...   Read More

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