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Ryan's Reviews: Fatherland, by Robert Harris

Hendryk

Nothing ever ends
Published by SLP
Location
France
Ever since I started doing academic research on the relationship between the UK and the EU a quarter-century ago, I've simply come across too many claims that European integration is the Third Reich by another name to be entirely convinced that the cover art wasn't coincidental.
 

Skinny87

Editor, American Breast Enthusiast
Patreon supporter
Published by SLP
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Ever since I started doing academic research on the relationship between the UK and the EU a quarter-century ago, I've simply come across too many claims that European integration is the Third Reich by another name to be entirely convinced that the cover art wasn't coincidental.
but

but it wasn't coincidental

the publishers clearly used it as a recognizable modern-day flag to juxtapose with the flag of the Third Reich to signal that Fatherland was an Alternate History title and that history was different to the reader's reality

it's a publishing gimmick to attract the reader in a crowded genre, with shock value to an extent, as with the Union Jack/Swastika mash-up on the front cover of the original SS-GB

Sometimes a pipe is just a pipe, mate
 

RyanF

Abbot of Unreason
Patreon supporter
Published by SLP
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Falkirk
but

but it wasn't coincidental

the publishers clearly used it as a recognizable modern-day flag to juxtapose with the flag of the Third Reich to signal that Fatherland was an Alternate History title and that history was different to the reader's reality

it's a publishing gimmick to attract the reader in a crowded genre, with shock value to an extent, as with the Union Jack/Swastika mash-up on the front cover of the original SS-GB

Sometimes a pipe is just a pipe, mate
Yep, definitely they new some twenty-four years later there would be a referendum on the UKs membership in the EU and the cover was intended to plant the seeds for voting to leave.

Playing the long game these publishing companies.
 

napoleon IV

Fanfiction Deep State
Location
Washington, Douglass Commonwealth
Pronouns
he/him
Ever since I started doing academic research on the relationship between the UK and the EU a quarter-century ago, I've simply come across too many claims that European integration is the Third Reich by another name to be entirely convinced that the cover art wasn't coincidental.
Why would a publisher do something like this? I mean, if the publishers wanted to put out an anti-EU message surely they would just say it out loud. Why go through all this cloak-and-dagger shit? It's not like opposition to the EU has ever been verboten in Britain.
 

Skinny87

Editor, American Breast Enthusiast
Patreon supporter
Published by SLP
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Why would a publisher do something like this? I mean, if the publishers wanted to put out an anti-EU message surely they would just say it out loud. Why go through all this cloak-and-dagger shit? It's not like opposition to the EU has ever been verboten in Britain.
If only Robert Harris had written an Alternate History thriller set in the US, then we would never have left the EU!
 
I think Harris's publishers knew that many gammons, as they are now called, like alternate history stories, especially ones around the Second World War and such a cover would appeal to them. The achievement for Harris was that this was probably the first AH book since SS-GB (1978) to crossover into mainstream sales at least in the UK. It is a shame that the movie did not get wider showing. I have been told it was because too many in US audiences, especially in the 18-30 group, did not comprehend that the Germany in 1964 being shown was an alternative and somehow believed it was a portrayal of East Germany. Coming out in 1994 it also fell into that awkward period of being on video when they were on their way out. For some years I know someone sold DVDs copied from the video, but not of high quality. In addition, I have not noticed it being shown on television, but given the number of channels now, I may have missed it.

With spoilers:

One problem I have with Harris's books, and Enigma (1995) is another example, is that he really struggles with endings. The closing scenes of Fatherland with Xavier March driving across a chunk of Germany into the old Poland, being pursued by the authorities not pulling him over, seemed very weak. The movie's denouement of Charlotte Maguire getting into President Joseph Kennedy's car and presenting him with details of the Holocaust, while still dramatic, seems just that little more reasonable. It is not often that screenwriters improve on the source novel, but I certainly feel this is one case.
 

RyanF

Abbot of Unreason
Patreon supporter
Published by SLP
Location
Falkirk
This was my mood. I think this is one of the reasons why @Thande thought that the leftpondian realms of the 90s (both loyal and wayward) were about twenty years in the future.
Even in the US though I'd hardly call the mid-90s a period when VHS was on the way out, the DVD wasn't even invented until 1995 and released in 1996 and never really took up widespread adoption until the introduction of the Trojan horse that was the PlayStation 2. Laserdisc never had enough penetration in the US (or even Japan where it was most popular) to be said to be moving VHS on the way out.

The use of 1994 is amusing for another reason given there were still plenty of films being vindicated on video release and rentals well past that date, and one of the biggest re-evaluations was for a film actually released that year in the shape of The Shawshank Redemption.
 

Thande

The Great and Powerful Wizard, Opnohop Moy
Published by SLP
Years are always confusing for media usages, especially for very long-running formats. I remember in the late 2000s LoadingReadyRun used 1996 as a go-to year for the heyday of VHS. But in the early 90s Sony were trying to sell their Video8 format portraying VHS as ye olde format of the 80s (but they would say that, wouldn't they).

I've previously shared that I thought CDs started in, like, 1993 when I was a kid, because we didn't get our first CD player till then and I don't recall them ever being mentioned or seeing them anywhere, just cassettes.
 
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