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Fatherlandby Robert Harris
Reading Group Guide
Fatherland is set in an alternative world where Hitler has won the Second World War. It is April 1964 and one week before Hitler's 75th birthday. Xavier March, a detective of the Kriminalpolizei, is called out to investigate the discovery of a dead body in a lake near Berlin's most prestigious suburb.
As March discovers the identity of the body, he uncovers signs of a conspiracy that could go to the very top of the German Reich. And, with the Gestapo just one step behind, March, together with an American journalist, is caught up in a race to discover and reveal the truth — a truth that has already killed, a truth that could topple governments, a truth that will change history.
1. Did you find the alternative history of Fatherland convincing? If so, what details strengthened that conviction?
2. 'Fatherland works on all levels' — Washington Post. What do you think this means? How do you think Fatherland works best?
3. Do you think Robert Harris's portrayal of women effectively reflects the society he has created?
4. 'History is told through the eyes of the victor.' How does this statement apply to Fatherland?
5. 'You're an irony yourself, March, in a way... We set out to breed a generation of supermen to rule an empire...we trained them to apply hard fact — pitilessly, even cruelly...And what happens? A few of you...begin to turn this pitiless clear thinking on us...' (page 240). What other ironies do you think there are in Fatherland?
6. How does the theme of deception work in the novel?
7. Do you think Xavier March had a fatal flaw? If so, what was it?
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