by Robert Harris

Overview: Hugh Legat is a rising star of the British diplomatic service, serving at 10 Downing Street as a private secretary to the Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain. Rikard von Holz is on the staff of the German Foreign Office—and secretly a member of the anti-Hitler resistance. The two men were friends at Oxford in the 1920s, but have not been in contact since. Now, when Hugh flies with Chamberlain from London to Munich, and Rikard travels on Hitler's train overnight from Berlin, their paths are set on a disastrous collision course. And once again, Robert Harris gives us actual events of historical importance—here are Hitler, Chamberlain, Mussolini, Daladier—at the heart of an electrifying novel.

Deanna Boe (04/25/18): MUNICH by Robert Harris is a novel based on the few days when Prime Minister Chamberlain of England met with Hitler in 1938 with the hope of appeasing him and thus preventing another war or at least postponing it until England might be better prepared to fight. This is a book for those who really love history and want to know more about those few days and what it might have been like for Chamberlain meeting with Hitler. Did the Prime Minister actually believe he could stop Hitler from going to war? Were there others in each group who thought they might be able to do something? For years historians have led us all to believe that the Prime Minister by giving Hitler the Sudetenland (part of Czechoslovakia which had been taken from Germany after WWI) was very naïve. Harris points out how this was actually a very shrewd part by Chamberlain. If Hitler had attacked England in 1938 history would probably be entirely different today. England was not prepared for war and by agreeing to the return of the Sudetenland to Germany it postponed the inevitable for two years; even though England was still not ready in 1940, they were in a better position then in 1938.

The majority of the characters in MUNICH are real people and how they might have acted during the Munich Conference. But Harris creates two fictional characters, Hugh Legat from England and Paul von Hartmann from Germany. Hartmann is trying to prevent Hitler from gaining any more power; in fact, he is with a group who would like to see Hitler dead. These two characters add intrigue and a little more excitement to the storyline that otherwise would be missing. If you like history and how something like this did make a difference for all of us, you would enjoy this book. I know I want to read more of Robert Harris’ books after this!

The following quote from MUNICH can apply to many situations in the world today. What do you think?

“We thought we had an agreement then, until Hitler suddenly came up with a new set of demands. It’s not like dealing with a normal head of government. He’s more like a barbarian chieftain out of a Germanic legend….with his house earls gathered around him. They leap up when he comes in and he freezes them with a look, asserts his authority, and then he settles down at a long table to feast with them, and to laugh and boast.”
Rating: *****

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