Required Reading

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Friday, April 1, 2011

Field Gray by Phillip Kerr

This is apparently the 7th Bernie Gunther novel.  I haven’t read any of the others.  This one deals with a pre-WWII vintage ex-policeman who is tangled in a web of duplicity that permeates Europe after WWII.

Bernie is awash in a sea of trouble that is primarily not of his making.   He seems helpless to chart his own course in a world that was changed so dramatically before, after and during World War II.   One of the more interesting things about this book is that it forces you to concede that as United States citizens, we are not always right or in the right.   I clearly recall doing a paper on the Vietnam war back in 1965 time frame.   We were told to have at least 10 sources and only two could be books authored by Americans.   That was rather eye opening for a committed ROTC participant in 1965.   I discovered that historically, Vietnam had been a quagmire for invaders for centuries.   I also discovered that we were totally committed to repeating many of the same mistakes that were made by prior invaders.   Invaders is used intentionally for that is apparently how the common people in Vietnam saw Americans.  

This book re-ignites some of that skepticism.   Bernie does not perceive the British, French or Americans as radically different than the Russians.   This forces you to ponder your history.   I’m reasonably well read and sadly much of what Bernie Gunther felt in this book could be substantiated.   

Kerr writes a very thought provoking novel that is not overly entertaining.   It is a good story, rather dark and overtly political.  Political in that Kerr seems to have nothing good to say about any government.   It does seem that all governments lie to both the world and to their own people.   You just have to pick up the paper or log on to the web to be bombarded with deceit.   I found the book depressing, not terribly enlightening but well worth reading.   I also found that the book made me feel somewhat reassured that, at least, I live in a country whose government lies less to us than most.  I am comfortable that is true in that no one in the government seems to be able to keep a secret so that has to inhibit rampant lying that has no consequences or at least I hope so.

I recommend the book.

Body of work of Phillip Kerr

Web site:  couldn’t find one

1 comment:

Man of la Book said...

Excellent review. I just finished writing mine.

Philip Kerr's website is and there is a fan site for Bernie Gunther here:

My thoughts will be up on Monday, April 11, 2011 - hope you'll stop by.