Armageddon by Leon Uris is a fictional book taking place in Berlin, Germany after World War II. The novel, written in 1963, is told from several distinct points of view, encompassing a time when there was a clear line between good and evil.
Sean O’Sullivan, US Army Captain, is sent to oversee the rebuilding of Berlin after World War II. Along the way O’Sullivan discovers the horrors of the holocaust, the truth of what has happened and faces a defeated and demoralized society that is afraid of their liberators just as much, if not more, as they were of their oppressors.
O’Sullivan’s counterpart, Russian Igor Karlovy also tries to do his best as is dictated by his superiors. It takes a while for Karlovy to see that not all German people are Nazis and that sometimes honey works better than sticks. He takes good care of his German mistress, sending her to West Berlin, but will not abandon his country.
Ernestine Falkenstein, the niece of the new mayor (Oberburgermeister) of Berlin, a man whose anti-Nazi German stance has landed him in a concentration camp, views O’Sullivan and Karlovy with contempt. Ernestine watches as the victors take whatever they want, the Russians freely raping women all across Berlin, while the Americans are powerless to do anything about it.
Armageddon by Leon Uris not only great fiction, but also a wonderful historical fiction book, interweaving fictional characters with historical events which brings the reader some context to what is happening. Even though I’m familiar with Mr. Uris’ work, I have not heard about this novel until it popped up on a “daily deal” alert.
I’m surprised I haven’t heard much about this novel before; it is an excellent book well worth reading. Of course, it finds itself in the unenviable position of being compared to other Uris’ masterpieces (notably Exodus) which is unfair because these novels must be looked at independently.
If anything, Armageddon is a companion novel to Exodus because the events are taking place at the same time and give better understanding of one another. Both happen after World War II, and even though they were thousands of miles apart, both influenced one another.
Uris paints a brutal picture of post-war Germany, the de-Nazification of the country took a lot of effort by the allies, and the Sgt. Schultz justification (“I see nothing, I know nothing) as well as “following orders” mantra didn’t hold water. Brutality also affected those Germans who survived the war, the Russians took their revenge on anyone they desired with little or no consequences.
Much of the book touches on the Berlin Airlift and the reasons behind the Soviet blockade, as well as the reasoning for American to come to the rescue. I have to admit that I didn’t know much about the Berlin Airlift, however it was a fascinating subject when given the right context.
The novel touches on several subjects which are important even in today’s world. The division of Berlin, the relationships between the victorious Allied personal who are now trying to align themselves with the political wishes of their leaders as well as the German people and the effects of the Berlin blockade.
This novel is grand, not only by sheer page numbers, but also by its subject and accomplishments. Mr. Uris compresses a huge part of post WWII era into an approachable, fascinating novel.Powered by Sidelines