Synopses & Reviews
It is twenty years after Nazi Germany's triumphant victory in World War II and the entire country is preparing for the grand celebration of the Führer's seventy-fifth birthday, as well as the imminent peacemaking visit from President Kennedy
Meanwhile, Berlin Detective Xavier March a disillusioned but talented investigation of a corpse washed up on the shore of a lake. When a dead man turns out to be a high-ranking Nazi commander, the Gestapo orders March off the case immediately. Suddenly other unrelated deaths are anything but routine.
Now obsessed by the case, March teams up with a beautiful, young American journalist and starts asking questions...dangerous questions. What they uncover is a terrifying and long-concealed conspiracy of such astonding and mind-numbing terror that is it certain to spell the end of the Third Reich if they can live long enough to tell the world about it.
"Harris, author of the nonfiction title Selling Hitler ...is clearly well versed in the operations and machinations of the Nazi regime. He uses this knowledge to create a realistic and frightening world in which we all could be living." Library Journal
"An eerie, detailed alternate history serves as the backdrop for this otherwise conventional crime thriller....The characters are flat and the plot largely predictable. And readers may well question the taste of using the Holocaust as the point of departure for a rather insubstantial, derivative thriller." Publishers Weekly
"There are no happy novels set in Berlin, but Harris...has managed a novel that dances on Hitler's grave with amusing success." Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Robert J. Harris was born and raised in Scotland. He studied Greek and Latin at university and has had a varied career as a bartender, salesman, nurse, actor, game designer, and writer. He designed the best-selling fantasy board game Talisman and is the author of numerous short stories, as well as two historical fiction novels with Jane Yolen: Queen's Own Fool and Girl in a Cage. He lives in St. Andrews, Scotland, with his wife, fantasy author Deborah Turner Harris, and their three sons.
Reading Group Guide
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?