Winter, January 1945. It is cold and dark, and the German army is retreating from the Russian advance. Germans are fleeing the occupied territories in their thousands, in cars and carts and on foot. But in a rural East Prussian manor house, the wealthy von Globig family tries to seal itself off from the world. Peter von Globig is twelve, and feigns a cough to get out of his Hitler Youth duties, preferring to sledge behind the house and look at snowflakes through his microscope. His father Eberhard is stationed in Italy - a desk job safe from the front - and his bookish and musical mother Katharina has withdrawn into herself. Instead the house is run by a conservative, frugal aunt, helped by two Ukrainian maids and an energetic Pole. Protected by their privileged lifestyle from the deprivation and chaos around them, and caught in the grip of indecision, they make no preparations to leave, until Katharina's decision to harbour a stranger for the night begins their undoing.
Superbly expressive and strikingly vivid, sympathetic yet painfully honest about the motivations of its characters, All for Nothing is a devastating portrait of the self-delusions, complicities and denials of the German people as the Third Reich comes to an end.
WALTER KEMPOWSKI (1929 - 2007) was one of Germany's most important post-war writers. He is known for his acclaimed series of novels German Chronicles (Deutsche Chronik) and his immense, eight-volume collection of first-hand accounts of World War II, Echo Soundings (Das Echolot), the final volume of which, Swansong 1945, was published by Granta in English in 2014. His last novel All for Nothing (Alles Umsonst), a bestseller in Germany in 2006 and critically applauded, sealed his reputation. It is available here in translation for the first time.
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- ID: 9781847087201
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