In 1939, British Colonel Noel Macrae, stationed in Berlin and witness to the rise of the Reich, decides that he might be the only Englishman with the opportunity to avert war. As he attempts to convince the British government of his mission, the colonel becomes torn between his government's orders and his own personal beliefs, especially as he falls in love with a German-Jewish woman. Blackmailed by the Nazis, the woman and her family have faced unspeakable horrors, and the colonel must do whatever it takes to help her escape.
But the colonel doesn't know that the Gestapo have formed a plan of their own. Aware of the colonel's intense hatred of the Nazi regime, the Gestapo work to draw him into a fabricated plot against Hitler. As the colonel finds himself caught up in a tangled web of shifting loyalties, corruption, and shocking indifference, he soon realizes he must find a way to hold on to his sense of humanity to save not only the woman he loves but also himself.
Inspired by true events and characters, James MacManus's Midnight in Berlin is a love story set against a world on the brink of war that will leave you in awe of the human capacity for self-sacrifice and resilience.
This book goes beyond capturing the music, fashion, and style of the WWII era and paints a picture of the chaotic attitudes, theories, failed diplomacy, and missed connections that contributed to the start of the world’s bloodiest war to date. The tone of the novel is serious and the author does an excellent job of capturing the psychosis and sexism of not only the Nazi party but the culture in general. Pre-Nazi party, Berlin was actually a safe haven with an incredibly liberal climate under the Weimar Republic. Many African American entertainers moved to Berlin to escape the deeply rooted racism in America. But things changed in dramatic fashion after Hitler seized power, and the author does a great job at capturing the grey areas that still lingered after this dramatic shift in social and political climate.
Set in Berlin, the story world is as deftly crafted as the characters, and I felt absorbed by the novel, if not a little overwhelmed as well. There is a lot of interesting internal dialogue and information to keep straight in this book, so I suggest reading it free of any kind of distractions.
Both the male and female protagonist of the story were likeable in a tense way, if that makes any sense. They are characters that had to make decisions outside of their own character in order to survive the times and plots they found themselves tangled in.
Like with any novel that has a well developed story world and well fleshed out characters, the pacing was slow and steady. The romance between the two MCs was both sad and exciting as only forbidden love can be set against a backdrop of war and racism.
I would recommend this book to those historical fiction fans that are interested in the diplomatic and psychological aspects that contributed to the start of WWII. It’s a heavier read that was incredibly insightful about the actual events leading up to the war and completely engaging on an intellectual and emotional level.
Have you read Midnight in Berlin? I’d love to know your thoughts on it.
Setting the Mood:
Fred and Ginger were famous the world over and Germans were still enjoying their music and films, as well as other American entertainment, at the onset of the war.
Just for fun:
Here’s a Donald Duck American anti-Nazi propaganda cartoon that would have been showed in theaters around America at the time.
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