The Kindly Ones by Jonathan Littell

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Synopsis

“Simply astounding. . . . The Kindly Ones is unmistakably the work of a profoundly gifted writer.” — Time

A literary prize-winner that has been an explosive bestseller all over the world, Jonathan Littell’s The Kindly Ones has been called “a brilliant Holocaust novel… a world-class masterpiece of astonishing brutality, originality, and force,” and “relentlessly fascinating, ambitious beyond scope,” by Michael Korda (Ike, With Wings Like Eagles). Destined to join the pantheon of classic epics of war such as Tolstoy’s War and Peace and Vasily Grossman’s Life and Fate, The Kindly Ones offers a profound and gripping experience of the horrors of World War II and the Holocaust.

 

About Jonathan Littell

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Jonathan Littell was born in New York to American parents, and grew up in the United States and France. He lives in Barcelona, Spain.
 
Published February 20, 2009 by HarperCollins e-books. 994 pages
Genres: History, Education & Reference, War, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Kindly Ones

Kirkus Reviews

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Aue does not do vast amounts of killing, but he signs off on death-commando actions and witnesses endless massacres (at one, tired of monotonous mass murder, he simply announces, “I’m going to go wait in the car”).

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The New York Times

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Harper paid about $1 million for Jonathan Littell’s “Kindly Ones,” a 983-page French novel narrated by a remorseless former Nazi SS officer, a book that has already aroused fierce passions, for and against.

Mar 03 2009 | Read Full Review of The Kindly Ones

The New York Times

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Indeed, the nearly 1,000-page-long novel reads as if the memoirs of the Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Höss had been rewritten by a bad imitator of Genet and de Sade, or by the warped narrator of Bret Easton Ellis’s “American Psycho,” after repeated viewings of “The Night Porter” and “The Damned.”...

Feb 23 2009 | Read Full Review of The Kindly Ones

The New York Times

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(The girl’s obtrusively Poe-derived name is just one tip-off to the novel’s thoroughgoing artifice.) While “The Kindly Ones” may have a Nabokovian narrator — obscurantist in his erudition, hyperspecialized in his sexual tastes — its exhaustively researched historicity and documentarian realism cl...

Mar 05 2009 | Read Full Review of The Kindly Ones

The Guardian

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The Kindly Ones by Jonathan Littell Buy it from the Guardian bookshop Search the Guardian bookshop This remarkable and controversial novel tells the story of the Ho...

Feb 28 2010 | Read Full Review of The Kindly Ones

The Guardian

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But this, from Aue himself as he reflects on the Warsaw uprising, surely is: "It's the Jews who are becoming warriors again, who are becoming cruel, who also are becoming killers.

Feb 28 2009 | Read Full Review of The Kindly Ones

The Guardian

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(As German critics pointed out, Littell is more at home with French cultural references than German ones.) Aue is interested in the potential philosophical justifications for the mass murder of Jews and regularly consults Plato.

Feb 22 2009 | Read Full Review of The Kindly Ones

BC Books

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Hannah Arendt famously called attention to the “banality of evil,” but Jonathan Littell reveals an even scarier “bureaucratization of evil.”

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BC Books

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Mar 05 2009 | Read Full Review of The Kindly Ones

BC Books

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Continued on the next page Page 1 — Page 2 — Page 3 — Page 4

Mar 05 2009 | Read Full Review of The Kindly Ones

BC Books

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After the subject has been treated in comic book form (Art Spiegelman’s Maus) told in backward chronology like a film in reverse (Martin Amis’s Times Arrow), brought to life in young adult fiction (Judith Kerr’s When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit), and tackled in numerous conventional and unconvention...

Mar 05 2009 | Read Full Review of The Kindly Ones

The Globe and Mail

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Jonathan Littell's The Kindly Ones was originally written in French ( Les Bienveillantes) and won France's Prix Goncourt (often called the French Booker, though the Prix Goncourt has been around much longer and, having Proust among its laureates, the Goncourt is, arguably, more prestigious).

Mar 07 2009 | Read Full Review of The Kindly Ones

Entertainment Weekly

B– See all current book reviews from EW Originally posted Mar 04, 2009 Published in issue #1038 Mar 13, 2009 Order article reprints

Mar 04 2009 | Read Full Review of The Kindly Ones

The Washington Post

Of course, the 6 million Jews murdered by the likes of Aue during the 1940s were in a worse place, yet who can say whether, if circumstances were reversed, many of them wouldn't have bowed to authority as he did?

Mar 07 2009 | Read Full Review of The Kindly Ones

The Independent

This applies too to Littell himself - indeed the entire architecture of the book is constructed as a "roman-fleuve", a comfortingly old-fashioned form of writing which belongs to the 19th century and which no doubt explains the book's success in France.

Feb 27 2009 | Read Full Review of The Kindly Ones

The Bookbag

Summary: An incredibly interesting, deep, very well crafted and throughly investigated fictional memoir of an SS officer in World War II.

Jan 29 2010 | Read Full Review of The Kindly Ones

Review (Barnes & Noble)

Yet even as Aue files his endless reports on concentration camp rations and military nutrition, Littell never allows us to see Aue's actions as merely "banal."

Mar 27 2009 | Read Full Review of The Kindly Ones

Huntington News

Aue, a fictional character born Oct. 10, 1913, is how Littell, born Oct. 10, 1967, imagined how he might have behaved had he been born in Europe and became a dedicated Nazi bureaucrat.

Mar 20 2009 | Read Full Review of The Kindly Ones

Scotsman.com

I finished it wondering if Littell would not have come closer to writing the great novel he clearly intended to produce if he had dispensed with Max as narrator and written the book in the third person.

Mar 04 2009 | Read Full Review of The Kindly Ones

Scotsman.com

For a dogged reader will be rewarded by some excellent concluding pages where Littell displays a talent for vividly describing the horrors of the Nazi Gtterdmmerung.

Mar 06 2009 | Read Full Review of The Kindly Ones

London Review of Books

Aue would like us to think of him as an ordinary man, but then so did virtually every Nazi after the war, when confessions were self-absolved by the claim that ‘we were just following orders.’ While Littell may have read Christopher Browning’s study of Reserve Police Battalion 101, as Ascherson s...

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Bookmarks Magazine

George Walden New York Times 0.5 of 5 Stars "Willfully sensationalistic and deliberately repellent, The Kindly Ones … is an overstuffed suitcase of a book, consisting of an endless succession of scenes in which Jews are tortured, mutilated, shot, gassed or stuffed in ovens, intercut with an ...

Feb 22 2009 | Read Full Review of The Kindly Ones

Socialist Review

The Kindly Ones is a memoir of the Second World War by Max Aue, a fictional SS officer who has escaped being brought to trial at the war's end and reinvented himself as a family man and factory manager in France.

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ReadySteadyBook

Amid the gathering storm of responses to Jonathan Littell’s monumental and phantasmagoric World War II novel, The Kindly Ones, readers as yet unfamiliar with the book may well be conscious of near-unanimity on one point: the book is appallingly, and ground-breakingly obscene, not in its depiction...

Mar 05 2009 | Read Full Review of The Kindly Ones

The Jewish Chronicle

This blend of thriller, enormously detailed historical naturalism, pornography and violence is a heady mix — The White Hotel meets The Winds of War, or, in thematic terms, Sex and Nazism meets Big History.

Mar 05 2009 | Read Full Review of The Kindly Ones

Ken Greenleaf

Those put off by the soft-pedaling of the SS in the Oscar-nominated movie adaptation of Bernhard Schlink's The Reader might be wary of Jonathan Littell's memoir of fictional war criminal Maximilien Aue.

Mar 11 2009 | Read Full Review of The Kindly Ones

Reader Rating for The Kindly Ones
75%

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