The Kindly Ones

The Kindly Ones

A Novel

Book - 2009
Average Rating:
Rate this:
A literary prize-winning epic novel that has been a record-breaking bestseller in France, Germany, Italy, and Spain, and is keenly anticipated in the English-speaking world. The Kindly Ones won the Prix Goncourt, France's most prestigious literary award, as well as the Academie Francaise's Prix de Litterature. It has sold more than one million copies in Europe alone. The Kindly Ones is the fictional memoir of Dr. Max Aue, a former Nazi officer who survived the war and has reinvented himself, many years later, as a middle-class entrepreneur and family man in northern France. Max is an intellectual steeped in philosophy, literature, and classical music. He is also a cold-blooded assassin and the consummate bureaucrat. Through the eyes of this cultivated yet monstrous man, we experience the horrors of the Second World War and the Nazi genocide of the Jews in graphic, disturbingly precise detail. During the period from June 1941 through April 1945, Max is posted to Poland, the Ukraine, and the Caucasus; he is present at the Battle of Stalingrad, at Auschwitz and Cracow; he visits occupied Paris and lives through the chaos of the final days of the Nazi regime in Berlin. Although Max is a totally imagined character, his world is peopled by real historical figures, such as Eichmann, Himmler, Goring, Speer, Heydrich, Hoss, and Hitler himself. Massive in scope, horrific in subject matter, and shocking in its protagonist, Littell's masterpiece is intense, hallucinatory, and utterly original. Critics abroad have compared this provocative and controversial work of literature to Tolstoy's War and Peace, a classic epic of war that, like The Kindly Ones, is a morally challenging read.
Publisher: Toronto : McClelland & Stewart, c2009.
ISBN: 9780771051531
Characteristics: 983 p. ; 24 cm.


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Chapel_Hill_KenMc Dec 17, 2014

Brutally detailed fictional memoir of an SS officer participating in the extermination of Jews. A committed Nazi ideologue, the narrator presents himself to us as a rational actor who offers no apologies for obeying orders and carrying out his "duty." Yet he is also shown to be a psychopath who experiences episodes of hallucinogenic detachment and self-loathing. A devious narrative that challenges us to examine the gradual series of decisions or non-decisions that lead from national pride to state-sanctioned murder and finally genocide. At 1,000 pages, however, Littell could use a more assertive editor.

boonerator Mar 12, 2013

At at 1000 pages, be prepared to skip large sections. The protagonist has no redeeming qualities and the writing is often scatalogical and graohic.

The history in it is massive, it follows him through the horrors and describes the bureaucratic games of the Nazis, which is difficult to read.

For the history, read "Bloodlands, Eastern Europe between Hitler and Stalin." Or any of the last few Bernie Gunther novels from Philipp Kerr.
Shorter and less disgusting.

Jan 25, 2012

OMG this is monster book. Probably too long, but the detail is amazing. How did Littell ever accomplish so much detailed research? Herr Aue is quite a character - completely amoral and at the same time cultured and dedicated to his task. I really don't like the long paragraphs or long sentences. I would recommend this but not to my Jewish friends as it might to too hard to take the hideous acts of violence. It is beyond me how anyone would be talented enough to write such a book.

Not for the faint of heart. Some translation errors.

Nov 12, 2009

A rather grim read but rather interesting.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

Nov 16, 2009

Dexter_Morgan thinks this title is suitable for 20 years and over


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number



Find it at WPL

To Top