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The Kindly Ones


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With its brilliant, frightening, furious, apocalyptic vision, The Kindly Ones is a literary tour de force, winner of the Prix Goncourt and other prizes and already an explosive bestseller across Europe, selling over 1 million copies.

About the Author

Jonathan Littell was born in 1967 in New York of American parents and brought up and educated mainly in France. This novel, originally published in France as Les Bienveillantes, became a bestseller and won the coveted Prix Goncourt and the Academie Francaise's Prix de Litterature. Previously he worked for the humanitarian agency, Action contre la faim, in Bosnia, Chechnya, Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. He now lives in Spain.


Littell's epic tale of a reformed Nazi officer takes the form of a fictitious memoir that takes listeners on a journey from Poland to the Ukraine and through some of the most notorious events in world history as seen from a Nazi perspective. Grover Gardner gives an unforgettable performance as Dr. Max Aue, a closeted homosexual and rising star in the SS. Gardner's intensity and passion force listeners to identify with Aue in all his torment and brutality. It's an uncomfortable, unforgettable, and transformative experience. A Harper hardcover (Reviews, Dec. 8, 2008). (Oct.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

Recalling the moral didacticism of Albert Camus's The Plague, the haunting struggles with political and social guilt in G nter Grass's novels, and the labyrinthine reflections on individual destiny in Robert Musil's The Man Without Qualities and Louis-Ferdinand Celine's Journey to the End of the Night, Littell's sprawling novel recounts one individual's moral struggle over his execution of hundreds of Jews during Hitler's reign. Now living the life of a cultured gentleman in France, Dr. Maximillian Aue has decided to write his memoir both to pass the time and to see whether he can still feel anything. In the course of his directionless meanderings, he recounts his numerous acts of murder, and he appears Zelig-like at the sides of Himmler, Eichmann, and even Hitler. Aue is at once the kind of figure who raises the perennial question about the Holocaust: how can a man steeped in the riches of German philosophy, music, and literature kill others in such a cold-blooded fashion? Yet Aue is hardly a complex character, and he doesn't generate much sympathy from readers. This work won numerous awards in France when it was published, but it's not clear that American readers will want to struggle through almost 1000 pages of unresolved moral conflict about the Holocaust. Because the book has received considerable press, however, most large libraries will want to own a copy. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 11/15/08.]-Henry L. Carrigan Jr., Evanston, IL Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

"An alternately fascinating and impressively researched novel. . . . Its feverish voice is weirdly mesmerizing, the scope awesome."--Newark Star Ledger

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