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Publisher's Summary

Winner of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize

New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice 

A letter from a German soldier to his grandson recounts the terrors of war on the Eastern Front, and a postwar ordinary life in search of atonement, in this “raw, visceral, and propulsive” novel (New York Times Book Review). 

In the throes of the Second World War, young Meissner, a college student with dreams of becoming a scientist, is drafted into the German army and sent to the Eastern Front. But soon his regiment collapses in the face of the onslaught of the Red Army, hell-bent on revenge in its race to Berlin. 

Many decades later, now an old man reckoning with his past, Meissner pens a letter to his grandson explaining his actions, his guilt as a Nazi participator, and the difficulty of life after war. Found among his effects after his death, the letter is at once a thrilling story of adventure and a questing rumination on the moral ambiguity of war. In his years spent fighting the Russians and attempting afterward to survive the Gulag, Meissner recounts a life lived in perseverance and atonement. Wracked with shame — both for himself and for Germany — the grandfather explains his dark rationale, exults in the courage of others, and blurs the boundaries of right and wrong. 

We Germans complicates our most steadfast beliefs and seeks to account for the complicity of an entire country in the perpetration of heinous acts. In this breathless story, Alexander Starritt also presents us with a deft exploration of the moral contradictions inherent in saving one's own life at the cost of the lives of others and asks whether we can ever truly atone.

©2020 Alexander Starritt (P)2020 Little, Brown & Company

Critic Reviews

"Haunting.... Daringly, in this slim, taut novel, Alexander Starritt climbs into the skin of one of the most appalling archetypes of the 20th century: a Nazi soldier.... Starritt's descriptions of conflict are shocking.... We Germans captures the terrible moment of realization when it dawns on the once-swaggering, all-conquering Nazis that they are going to be crushed.... Although no readers are likely to admire the soldier's wartime actions, they will at least be confronted by his experiences as both killer and victim." (John Thornhill, Financial Times)

"Striking.... Vividly done.... The book has a gritty realism.... We Germans is a visceral examination of guilt, collective and individual." (Andrew Holgate, Sunday Times)

"We Germans is a remarkable and audacious novel that is harrowingly real and, at the same time, asks the most searching questions about men at war." (William Boyd, Booker Prize finalist and author of Any Human Heart and Restless)

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Brilliant And Moving

One of the best books I have listened to in a long, long time. The narration (done by 2 separate readers) is perfect. Starr it is a brilliant young author who takes you there on every level. I suspect this story comes a from a very deep personal place for him;. As one who has never (and never will) understand Germany and Germany’s role in WW 2, this story is a crack in the mystery. A most human book. As Leonard Cohen once said, “cracks are how the light gets in.” I am now a Starrit fan boi and look forward to his future work.

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