MixedThe New York Times Book ReviewWasson...delivers a vivid narrative, weaving together portraits of four seriously flawed men ... It’s possible Wasson is biased in favor of the sources he interviewed ... But Wasson’s revisionist conclusion is still fairly persuasive and abundantly clear: no Polanski, no Chinatown ... did not signal a new golden age, but instead was the last flicker of an old one ... It’s neither a new nor an original observation, and Wasson’s other attempts to reach for something deeper to say about America in the ’70s come across as awkward and heavy-handed attempts at sociology. It hurts to see his compelling story interrupted with pretentious quotes from Adorno and Barthes ... Wasson concludes his book with several long chapters about the less-than-stellar fates of Chinatown\'s principals. It’s a bummer of an ending and a disappointing way to celebrate an American classic.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewEric Lichtblau...has now given Mayer’s story the feature-length treatment it deserves, drawing on a rich trove of oral histories, letters, government archives, captured German records, and personal accounts from surviving witnesses and their families. The book doesn’t distinguish itself from others in the genre—it’s an epic poem rendered in workmanlike prose—but the details are astonishing nonetheless ... Mayer presents as a pugnacious Brooklyn street kid, a role he adopted upon arriving in America in 1938. He was more of a doer than a thinker, something of a troublemaker, confident in his ability to talk his way out of any mess, even a Gestapo interrogation cell ... Lichtblau ends by suggesting one final motive: gratitude...to make good on the debt he felt he owed his adoptive country.
PositiveThe Los Angeles TimesThe novel’s finest conceit is the physical transformation of Berlin. Hitler and his personal architect, Albert Speer, always planned to remodel the capital, and Harris belatedly brings their blueprints to life ... The reader will immediately sense something off about this Nazi dystopia. There is no antisemitism. In fact, there are no Jews at all ... Harris may be suggesting that all forms of totalitarianism are the same, which is neither original nor true. But surely this is taking the novel too seriously. Fatherland works fine as a sly and scary page-turner, and for those of you who can’t imagine a summer at the beach without at least one good Nazi thriller--and who can?--then Xavier March is the SS man for you.