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Flights of Love: Stories Vintage Bernhard Schlink


31st May 2012 Literature & Fiction 33 Comments

Bernhard Schlink brings to these seven superbly crafted stories the same sleek concision and moral acuity that made The Reader an international bestseller. His charactersmen with importunate appetites and unfortunate habits of deceptionare uneasily suspended between the desire for love and the impulse toward flight.
A young boys fascination with an eerily erotic painting gradually leads him into the labyrinth of his familys secrets. The friendship between a West Berliner and an idealistic young couple from the East founders amid the prosperity and revelations that follow the collapse of communism. An acrobatic philanderer (one wife and two mistresses, all apparently quite happy) begins to crack under the weight of his abundance. By turns brooding and comic, and filled with the suspense that comes from the inexorable unfolding of character, Flights of Love is nothing less than masterful

Flights of Love sees Bernhard Schlink build on the success of his international bestselling debut novel, The Reader, with a clutch of short stories that tell of the variety of love, distilled into seven splinters of narrative. The pick of the seven, the opening “Girl with Lizard,” depicts a remote male character who fixates on a painting of his father’s, which he is to discover, like his father, has a familiarly unsavory past, and which he is impelled to exorcise. In the book’s centerpiece, “Sugar Peas,” architect and amateur painter Thomas finds that his trio of lovers avenge themselves on his profligacy after he is left wheelchair-bound by an accident. “The Other Man” presents a widower corresponding with his dead wife’s unwitting lover, and finding comfort through acquaintance. Less successfully, “The Circumcision” sees the pretext of a German man and his New York Jewish girlfriend to ponder huge, chewy rhetoric on the problems of reconciling the past, almost absentmindedly concocting an improbable denouement. Schlink too often presents scenarios rather than scenes, more intent on dislocated dilemma than language. In keeping with his legal training, he discerns lines of attack more suited to a drama, or perhaps a courtroom drama, than fiction. There can be no doubting Schlink’s storytelling acumen or his undertaking to tackle the complicated identity of modern Germany. What is increasingly exposed, though, are the supporting mechanisms that too frequently serve to reinforce, rather than challenge, our assumptions with their didactic contrivance. –David Vincent, Amazon.co.uk –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Schlink’s The Reader was a surprise bestseller on these shores, discovered by Oprah and established by word of mouth. The writer’s mastery of form, concise yet thorough probing of character, and concern with the moral implications of human behavior are again in evidence in these seven gripping stories. German men are protagonists in each of them, with some traits in common: a need for order, efficiency, respectability and righteousness, and a difficulty in expressing emotion. While the settings are mainly in Germany, two stories take place in North America and one in an unnamed South American country. Though love is the common emotion in each, not a trace of sentimentality mars the tensile energy of the narratives. Instead, Schlink examines the wounds inflicted by history and bitterness, jealousy and regret, neglect and repressed emotions. The penalties of love, and the lack of it, are paid by spouses, lovers, children. “A Little Fling,” perhaps the most haunting story in the collection, deals with the legacy of betrayal fostered by the Berlin Wall. The shadow of the Holocaust prevents a man from experiencing love in “Girl with Lizard” and bewilders another young man in “The Circumcision,” whose title threatens to remove suspense, but Schlink adds a quietly devastating twist at the end. Despite Schlink’s matter-of-fact depiction of events, “The Other Man” and “Sugar Peas” can test credibility, but both stories are anchored in such strikingly portrayed characters that the reader’s trust remains strong. The clarity of Schlink’s vision and the calm eloquence with which it’s expressed make these tales classics of their genre. First serial to the New Yorker.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

–This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Flights of Love sees Bernhard Schlink build on the success of his international bestselling debut novel, The Reader, with a clutch of short stories that tell of the variety of love, distilled into seven splinters of narrative. The pick of the seven, the opening “Girl with Lizard,” depicts a remote male character who fixates on a painting of his father’s, which he is to discover, like his father, has a familiarly unsavory past, and which he is impelled to exorcise. In the book’s centerpiece, “Sugar Peas,” architect and amateur painter Thomas finds that his trio of lovers avenge themselves on his profligacy after he is left wheelchair-bound by an accident. “The Other Man” presents a widower corresponding with his dead wife’s unwitting lover, and finding comfort through acquaintance. Less successfully, “The Circumcision” sees the pretext of a German man and his New York Jewish girlfriend to ponder huge, chewy rhetoric on the problems of reconciling the past, almost absentmindedly concocting an improbable denouement. Schlink too often presents scenarios rather than scenes, more intent on dislocated dilemma than language. In keeping with his legal training, he discerns lines of attack more suited to a drama, or perhaps a courtroom drama, than fiction. There can be no doubting Schlink’s storytelling acumen or his undertaking to tackle the complicated identity of modern Germany. What is increasingly exposed, though, are the supporting mechanisms that too frequently serve to reinforce, rather than challenge, our assumptions with their didactic contrivance. –David Vincent, Amazon.co.uk –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Flights of Love: Stories










  • 33 responses to "Flights of Love: Stories Vintage Bernhard Schlink"

  • JUDI BANGE
    4:51 on May 31st, 2012
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    Schlink seems to ask himself, “To what strange places might love drive a person?” His writing is distinctly un-American: poetic, deeply intimate, concise, and above all unashamed. The overall effect is provacative and thought provoking. Each story is unique and unattached to the next, but still focuses on the premise of people driven throughout their lives by love. The book shows the many different ways that love can effect a person: in one story, love brings them together, in another drives them apart, in another it causes infidelity, in another it sends a man looking after the man that the dead wife had an affair with. With his Kundera-esque writing style, I was riveted to Schlink’s book. Subjects covered: war, religion, art, travel, infidelity, circumcision, lies, sex, falling out of love, family relationships, Jewish prejudice against a German. The “flights” seem unconcious and inevitable, each resulting conflict the believable outcome of the characters personality. Each story flows naturally, and yet, the conflict and resolution are unexpected. If you like this, you may really like “Searching For Intruders” by Byler or “Kissing in Manhatten” by Schlinker.

  • sergeyseattle
    5:47 on May 31st, 2012
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    I was pleasantly surprised – while beeing shocked and horrified – that this book was NOT just a “coffee table book” of pictures from the US Holocaust Museum and Memorial – not that one would want a coffee-table book on that topic anyway. That it was published by/with the museum may give the impression it’s “just” a bunch of pictures – a printed tour through the museum. That is definitely not the case.

    The book tells more through the well-written text than it does through the pictures. The book would be excellent with no pictures at all – it’s that well-written & edited. The pictures alone would give an “eh, so what?” reaction. Together, they are a riveting and frightening story of this terrible period in our history.

    I thought I knew something about the Holocaust – and I suppose I did know as much as some people know – possibly more than most. This book opened my eyes even further.

    Though I know antisemitism is unfortunately, still alive and well today – even in the United States – I had no idea how powerful it was in the years leading to World War II. This played a terrible role in the systematic destruction of the Jewish people – not only by the Nazis – but also through the cold-hearted or apathetic at best response by the rest of the world. Though most of us can show clean hands when it comes to the hands-on role of actual killing, an awful lot of us still tolerate – or even worse, practice the very kind of antisemitism that fueled the premeditated killing of so many.

    This book could easily be an entire course on the Holocaust – from the earliest beginnings and history of anti-jewish action in the world, through the actual event, and up until today.

    If I could afford it, I’d buy copies of this book for a couple of holocaust rejectors. If the evidence it presents does not cause them to renounce their denial of this event, then perhaps a coupl of well-placed whacks to the head will do. Either way, this book is weighty enough to accomplish the task.

    Kidding aside, this is a great book – on a terrible subject.

  • paweenie
    7:18 on May 31st, 2012
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    It may be a cliche, but Bernhard Schlink is a master storyteller. These stories surprise and fascinate in the same way as *The Reader*. Schlink creates real characters facing difficult moral and personal issues. His prose style is spare and elegant and he takes up large and important themes. This collection is not to be missed.

  • ngihthomas
    9:09 on May 31st, 2012
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    I thought this was a very good book. Each story is long enough to cover the material and short enough to keep it interesting. I have become a big fan of the author. He doesn’t make excuses for his characters- they are who they are and that’s that. He gives historical perspective of not only the Holocaust, but East/West Germany. No, the book is not like “The Reader”, but why should it be?

  • VIGNESH
    9:23 on May 31st, 2012
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    Bernhard Schlink created a devoted following with the translation of his first novel THE READER. Opinion was divided among critics and readers as to whether or not this author was playing on simplistic heart-string tuggings or whether he really had somthing new to say and an equal talent to say it. Being part of the camp of readers who were caught up in the story of ‘The Reader’ and waited eagerly to see just where this writer would/could go, I am happy to say that FLIGHTS OF LOVE is substantial proof that Schlink is a very fine storyteller. This book of seven short stories, while a bit uneven, at least shows that the author can relate tales of interest, of introspection, of intrique, and in general can keep his reader flowing with his thoughts to the somewhat open-ended conclusions. “The Other Man” is deftly told and has much more of a universal appeal than the isolated story would indicate. ‘Girl with Lizard’ is a mesmerizing tale based on a man’s relationship to a painting! One of the unifying elements in Schlink’s creative mind is examining how internalized perceptions, when maintained in the prison of an individual’s mind, can alter the manner in which we live through relationships, ways that could have been more constructive had communication of these altered perceptions occurred. Sounds simple, but the way Schlink uses this tool to alter his characters reaction to not only each other but to everyone and everything in their lives is touching and rings true. If at times his writing seems detached or cold, I wonder how much of that is due to the fact that we are reading translations. Despite any of the negative points mentioned, here is a collection of short stories that merit attention and make us eager for the next full scale novel to come along.

  • Jennifer Walter
    13:11 on May 31st, 2012
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    This book is very informative and educational. It is full of pictures and easy reading to describe such a horrific event in history. This is a great teacher tool!

  • Toots McGee
    15:24 on May 31st, 2012
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    This is an excellent comprehensive study of the Holocaust. For the beginning student of the Holocaust, it provides a great overview. And for the seasoned student, it a tremendous resource. It is a “must-have” for any level of Holocaust studies. Very well done.

  • Apl-O
    17:07 on May 31st, 2012
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    If you like simple books with strong message, this is the book for you. This book brings interesting dilemmas in which you can relate to the main character. Is it possible to love a picture more than a person? How many wifes can a man have (before they catch him)? Not completely without a touch of humour ordinary lifes and extraordinary circumstances makes a good and challenging mixture. Schlink, being a judge and a law professor, is definetily a good reference person for any ethic question. He opens different points of view to the reader which gives you an impression, you are becoming a bit smarter while reading this book! But you also learn that in yourself there is hidden a lazy person which allways chooses the easiest and effortless way to achieve something. Does this makes us cowards and anti-heros? Perhaps… Love fugitives? Definitely!

  • Adriaan Bloem
    20:07 on May 31st, 2012
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    I was fortunate to be able to visit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum last summer – I was deeply impressed by the exhibits and the meticulous documentation of the Holocaust. The exterior is suitably stark in appearance, and the interior compellingly brings the Holocaust “alive” for visitors. This is not a museum for really young children (I’d recommend it for ages 10 and up, with great caution). Except for the ground level exhibit, the others truly convey the horrors and realities of the Holocaust. When I saw this book at the museum bookstore, I purchased it immediately, even though I have dozens of scholarly works on the subject (having taught Holocaust history for many years whilst overseas). It was to serve as a memento of my visit to the museum (the other book I purchased was I Never Saw Another Butterfly, a beautiful, lyrical, and heartbreaking work based on the writings and artwork of Jewish children incarcerated in Terezin during WW II, many of whom later perished in the Holocaust).

    “The World Must Know” aligns with the institution’s mission to memorialize the Holocaust and its millions of victims. It compellingly and vividly narrates the story of how the Holocaust occurred and the horrific consequences of this period, not only then, but the lasting impact till the present day. The book is divided into three main sections, i.e.:

    The Nazi Assault – there’s a brief overview of the vital and thriving Jewish culture which existed in many parts of Europe before the Nazis came to power and put an end to it. The rise of the Nazis, the anti-Jewish policies, racial science, Nazi medicine, and many more are covered to some extent, made all the more compelling by the archival B&W photographs which are abundantly peppered throughout the book. This section not only documents the atrocities perpetrated against the Jews but also the oppression suffered by the handicapped, and Gentiles who dared to oppose the regime.

    The Holocaust – this section documents the Holocaust as it occurred in Europe and Greece; the formation of the ghettoes (Warsaw, Lodz, Kovno); the Wannsee Conference which discussed the Final Solution to the Jewish problem and which led to the mass extermination of European Jewry; dozens of photographs of the mass killings and extermination of Jews through firing squads, mobile gas vans, and of course the infamous gassings in death camps such as Auschwitz-Birkenau, Dachau, Majdanek, etc. The photographs here clearly document the meticulous methods employed by the Nazis in their zeal to rid Europe of Jews – the deportations (how heartbreaking to see pictures of young, innocent children being taken away, almost surely to their deaths!), and the chemicals and rooms used for gassing these innocent victims. This section also includes photographs of the exhibits found in the Holocaust Memorial Museum such as the thousands of shoes confiscated from prisoners in Majdanek, and scale models of the crematoriums complete with plaster figures of victims going through the entire process from arrival-selection-undressing-gassing-cremation.

    The Last Chapter – covers the heroic efforts of some communities to save the Jews such as the miraculous rescue of the Jews in Denmark; Le Chambon-Sur-Lignon, a village in the south of France which provided refuge to 5,000 Jews during WW II; individual heroes who risked everything to save Jews such as Raoul Wallenberg; and many more. It also covers the uprisings, the death marches, and finally, liberation and its aftermath (the war crimes trials at Nuremberg, displaced persons, and exodus to Palestine).

    There’s an extensive index at the end of the book for easy cross-referencing. What else is there to be said but that this is an excellent work which portrays the history of the Holocaust as has been archived, documented, and narrated by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Recommended!

  • walkaway
    20:29 on May 31st, 2012
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    Wonderful, elegantly written collection of short stories about men and love, the gravitation toward it and the flight from it, all based in East Berlin. I love this author and especially this book.

  • Don Rankine
    21:14 on May 31st, 2012
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    Love is not easy: not only attaining it, winning the heart of your loved one, but, most difficult and most important, keeping it. Too many, once they “won” the love of somebody, take love for granted, as an acquired boon. They’re wrong. This book explains why.This book is all about the self-centeredness, the pettyness, the fear of loving that prevents love to take flight. But it’s a recommended reading if one wants to avoid errors. Beware young lovers, where ever you are! Love is a many splendored thing…handle whit care!

  • NoScriptEvah
    22:26 on May 31st, 2012
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    Flight’s of love is Wonderful from begging to end! I enjoyed it very much.
    I had read “The reader” before and loved it and “Flights of love” does not dissapoint, Bernard Schlink continues to impress on this one.

  • plavix online
    0:12 on June 1st, 2012
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    A book not to be missed, whether in its original publication of the newer 2007 version. The picturews are inforgettable and the writing superb.

  • ifoon
    1:30 on June 1st, 2012
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    This book, published by the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC, is the museum in book form. Filled with hundreds of photos and illustrations, some of them quite graphic, along with short but descriptive and informative written pieces on everything one would need to know about the holocaust from beginning to end, the book does a quality job of introducing the subject to the reader.

    This is not a scholarly text that those looking for historical detail would find useful. It is rather, a “coffee table” type book, and a very moving overview of the holocaust.

    Riveting, moving, emotional, and gripping are all apt descriptives of the book. Well recommended for anyone needing the necessary information and knowledge of one of the ugliest times in history. At the quoted price, a great deal!

  • patriotjules
    3:32 on June 1st, 2012
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    Lovely language as usual, sensitive and precise, clear and elegant! Rather melancholic.
    Not all the stories are equally good, some of them run strangely paralell to my own life experiences. That may be because I am about the same age as the author and familiar with places, events and similar existantial situations he describes.The outcome of the stories are often surprising leaving the reader with something to contemplate.

  • To the Glub
    5:06 on June 1st, 2012
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    I read “The Reader” and had to get more Schlink. These short stories are incredible. The dialogue and story settings are all extremely well crafted and each story will make you think about what was going on in the characters mind. I can’t say enough just read it.

  • The Regular Joe
    7:47 on June 1st, 2012
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    …something about Schlink’s writing leaves me personally cold — his novel THE READER left me feeling the same way. I recognize his talent and abilities, but I just don’t enjoy the paths that his fiction takes. While all of these stories deal with aspects of love, I would suggest that the word ‘flights’ in the collection’s title refers more to the concept of fleeing from love than to the soaring heights to which it can take people.
    It seemed to me that every single story in this collection dealt with someone’s failure at love, their disappointment in it, their disillusionment with it, or their guilt about the way they had treated someone they loved. In ‘The circumcision’, a German man is offended when his American fiancée refers to his ‘German-ness’ and remarks that her friends looked at him in this light as well. One of the characteristics she assigns to him in this regard is his cold obsession with organization. Frankly, I can see a similar trait in Schlink’s work — and please understand that’s not to say that he’s not a brilliant writer. I guess the worst thing I can say that he’s just not my ‘cup of tea.’

  • iPad Loser
    9:40 on June 1st, 2012
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    The Reader was the first book I read written by Schlink. As an American who first moved to Germany as a child as WWII was ending I have had a life long struggle sorting out my feelings about Germany and its people within the context of the Holocaust. Schlink, as a German man who grew up in those same years in Germany seemed to be speaking directly to me. Love, hate, horror, ambivalence and the human face of the common man/woman were true to the events that ensued as Germany sought accountability for the atrocities that had been perpetrated by Germans during the war. I found The Reader mesmerizing, insightful and deeply moving. So I looked forward to reading these stories.

    I was not disappointed. This collection of short stories reflects a German man’s perspective on where love or the lack of love may take us as individuals and in society. The stories are tightly constructed and the writing crisply realistic. One feels a sense of isolation and even self-conscious alienation in many of his characters. The reader will also learn some of what it has been like for Germans seeking normalcy for themselves in a world that continues to have powerful ambivalence toward them. When a character moves from Berlin to New York, he experiences the discomforts of differences in culture and history when trying to establish an intimate relationship. A man loses his wife to cancer, discovers she once had a lover and after an exchange of letters goes to his community and becomes involved in his life. Another character is fixated upon a mysterious painting of a woman, a painting that had been in the study of his now deceased father, but which he recalls as a source of uneasy undercurrents between his parents. Jews and their place in German history thread through the storie. A particularly interesting tale revolved around friendships and love relationships as east and west Germans interact politically and personally while building a means to achieve reunification.

    This is a collection well worth reading. Another reader commented that it was as if two different authors wrote this collection and The Reader. I would disagree: Schlink is very consistent in his worldview and in the way in which he tells a tale. Read his writing and you will hear what it means to be a German today. You will also get some surprising and very unsentimental reflections on love, both in the abstract and as it plays out in the lives of his characters. His is a unique voice for these times.

  • Michael Nguyen
    11:42 on June 1st, 2012
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    I did not learn much about the Holocaust in high school, so I took it upon myself to learn. At 20 years of age, I read this book cover to cover. I cried, I had nightmares, and yet I did NEED to know. This book has EVERYTHING! I recommend it, not only as a teaching tool, but as a vivid and evoking journey into the past and its disgusting and unforgettable truths. THE WORLD MUST KNOW…the title says it all.

  • Nida Rodriges
    12:02 on June 1st, 2012
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    I got this book for a class, expecting we’d read it over the course of the semester due to its length. I was terribly wrong. I am expected to read it in a week, which is awful. It’s not going to get done simply because I cannot synthesis all of the information at one time. So far, the book seems pretty in depth for an “overview” of the history of the Holocaust. It is, however, worth the money. The pictures are vivid and heartbreaking. I’d like this book a lot better if I didn’t have to have it read in a week.

  • akahige
    15:51 on June 1st, 2012
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    With the ranks of survivors getting smaller for each year that passes, this book, shows us that we must never forget the atrocities that were commited towards humanity (Jews, Gypsies, Russian POW’s and many others). The pictures that portray the holocaust are difficult to watch and the pictures of the shoes is a horrific reminder that these were once worn by people that hopes,dreams and aspirations for the future. The picture of the gypsy children is horrendous and it shows that the world must never ever forget the horrific acts that happened.

  • ipad news
    17:22 on June 1st, 2012
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    When I finished THE READER, which I thoroughly enjoyed, I was convinced that the book was autobiogrpahical and that Bernhard Schlink had done what may writers do; tell the one story they have to tell and write several poorly done works hoping to capitalize on the success of their first book. So it was with spepticism that I began FLIGHTS OF LOVE. I was delighted to find that I was wrong, at least on the second point.

    Schlink has compiled a wonderful selection of short stories with ironic twists and surprise endings. As he does in THE READER, he deals with relationships and the web people spin for themseles in dealing with lovers and spouses. I felt the strongest of the stories were THE OTHER MAN and THE CIRCUMCISION. In THE CIRCUMCISION and THE GIRL AND THE LIZARD, Schlink revisits the theme of THE READER in terms of deling with Germany’s past and the acceptance of it by contemporary Germans. The conflicts between the characters in THE CIRCUMCISION, while specifically dealing with German/Jewish relations are universal and could involve interracial couples as well as couples from different cultures. In THE OTHER MAN Schlink marverls the reader with his incites into the life of a grieving widower and the fact that his wife has had an affair yet maintained a healthy relationship with him.

    I felt that THE SON was the weakest of the stories and seemed to have been drawn on themes more common to V.S. Naipaul. I suspect that some of these stories will show up in the movies some day, especially THE OTHER MAN. All in all the stores are well done, provacative and readable. I only look forward to Schlink’s next work.

  • Atilla
    17:36 on June 1st, 2012
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    I totally fell in love with this book. I seemed to like each story better than the last…. “Girl With Lizard” would have been my fave though, if I had to pick just one. I definitely plan on recommending this book to friends when they ask me if I have read any good books lately. Don’t miss this one! This is one to be read over and over.

  • Dr Francia
    19:16 on June 1st, 2012
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    Why the need for a second edition of a classic Jewish studies survey of images from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC? Because with each decade that passes it becomes more important to preserve the images and realities of World War II events for future generations – and because THE WORLD MUST KNOW is an outstandingly well organized gathering of hard-hitting images from the German Holocaust. The Museum is a living memorial to the events and those who died – and THE WORLD MUST KNOW: THE HISTORY OF THE HOLOCAUST AS TOLD IN THE U.S. HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL MUSEUM is an outstanding memorial propelling its images beyond museum walls.

    Diane C. Donovan, Editor
    California Bookwatch

  • Sofia Kedra
    19:48 on June 1st, 2012
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    Flight’s of love is Wonderful from begging to end! I enjoyed it very much.
    I had read “The reader” before and loved it and “Flights of love” does not dissapoint, Bernard Schlink continues to impress on this one.

  • GruberFakr
    20:35 on June 1st, 2012
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    Bernard Schlink has done it again: created a small masterpiece, with this group of seven short stories. Their strength derives from the rigorous psychological self examination that each of his middle-aged or older male protagonists is forced to undergo. Most of the stories are set totally or partially in modern day Germany, some against the post Holocaust or post reunification backdrop, but all against the universal backdrop of human relationships. I would argue that the common thread is less about love, despite the title, and more about the search for self authenticity. My choice for the best of the seven are “Girl with Lizard” and “The Circumcision”, but if you’re going to read one, you should read all of it. The stories are unusual, original, and powerful with lots of layers, and worth several re-readings.

  • Daniele Beccari
    22:23 on June 1st, 2012
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    I purchased this book on my Kindle (which is just too cool) after reading The Reader and Homecoming. I enjoyed the stories and Mr. Schlinks writing style. If you like his other books you will find these stories enjoyable as well.

  • Old European
    0:46 on June 2nd, 2012
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    This book is great, easy to read and extremely interesting. I love the layout of it, it makes it interesting. The explanations are great too. Thank you very much for the fast shipping!

  • matt lynley
    7:54 on June 2nd, 2012
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    wonderfully written book. sclink is a master of getting to all the facets of a story. i will read anything he writes

  • You Know
    9:48 on June 2nd, 2012
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    Bernhard Schlink’s FLIGHTS OF LOVE is a curious, uneven, confounding and sometimes brave assemblage of stories, none of which has anything whatsoever to do with actual “flights” of our most treasured and elusive emotion. DIVES OF LOVE would have been considerably more accurate. But that’s not a criticism. Schlink delivers some fine swans and at least one Triple-Lindy. My favorite has to be the opener, GIRL WITH LIZARD. There is a strange redemptive quality here, and, as with all of Schlink’s fiction, a definite chill in the air. He is playing to his strength when he maintains a good distance from his characters, revealing slowly all the hidden gross machinery that drives them to do what he has them do. When Schlink fails, he does so just as grandly, God bless his Nordic soul. Best example of that, I think, has to be THE CIRCUMCISION, a miserable, too-long, improbable, atmospheric polemic about cold-blooded posturing, hair-trigger sensibilities, and not much else. When Schlink attempts a much warmer author/character relationship, the results are strained, frozen, and never very good. Stories like GIRL WITH LIZARD, SUGAR PEAS, and THE OTHER MAN really go a long way toward saving FLIGHTS OF LOVE from becoming one of the sloppiest diving teams anyone ever saw.

  • Al Sefati
    11:47 on June 2nd, 2012
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    Michael Berenbaum is a renowned scholar and author of several books and professional articles about the Holocaust that took place during the Second World War. In 1993 Berenbaum, together with The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C., published the first edition of The World Must Know, and twelve years later an updated second edition came out.

    Filled to the brim with pictures taken before, during, and after the Holocaust, this book is most definitely a very frightening piece of evidence; detailing the nasty ability of the human race of demonstrating a total lack of sympathy towards dissidents, and in many different ways this book offers both a relentless and necessary insight into the unfathomable mass murder, during which millions of Jews perished; young, old, men, women, and children. But not only Jews; gypsies, the handicapped, homosexuals, political prisoners, and many more were systematically killed as well.

    So in other words, an important book about one of the darkest chapters in the history of the human race.

    But it’s also a book that, unfortunately, turned out to be a huge disappointment.

    More than anything else, The World Must Know is one-sided beyond belief. Of course the main focus of a book such as this one should be, and is, the unbelievable suffering of the victims together with the origins and consequences of Nazi politics. But, no matter how despicable these crimes were, one must always keep in mind that the ones doing these crimes were other people, not machines nor wild animals, more often than not simple ordinary people who before the war had been your everyday German citizen.

    However, throughout the book these perpetrators are depicted as otherworldly monsters, and even though no one can blame the victims and the rest of the world for thinking this way, it’s still important to remember that to the perpetrators themselves, what they did was completely justified, of utmost importance, and not necessarily evil at all.

    So why does this bother me? Well, no crime or injustice, no matter how extreme or massive, can be fully understood – and thus prevented from ever happening again – as long as only one side of the grisly story is told, and since The World Must Know focuses the way it does, the reader never gets a complete, or at least more extensive, understanding of what it was that actually happened. One of the reasons why this book was even written in the first place was, after all, to ensure that a Holocaust II never takes place. It’s a noble quest indeed, but how is a crime ever to be prevented from happening again unless you have sufficient information about the ones who actually were willing to carry out the crime in question?

    With this in mind, it’s equally surprising why only a few lines of text, at the very end of the book, mention those who choose to deny or downplay the Holocaust. For a book as crucially important as The World Must Know, neglects like the ones just mentioned are, well, unacceptable.

    And to make matters worse, the book doesn’t have any kind of map and/or direction useful to anyone who’d want to visit the few concentration camps from the Second World War that still exist today. And that sucks, because I honestly believe that one must actually visit the sites if one wants to get some sort of genuine understanding of what happened there. Not only that, the book is quite heavy and cumbersome and from time to time written in an annoyingly repetitive way.

    So in the end, what could have been an incredible – and mentally demanding – experience turns out to be mediocre and full of shortcomings.

  • eddie g
    13:22 on June 2nd, 2012
    Reply to comment

    This is a short story collection. THE READER was a novel of interest. The question is, are the stories as good.

    A boy naps under a picture his mother calls the Jewish girl. (His father disagrees with the attribution.) The boy is sensitive, he seems to read people. He knows their secrets. The boy’s father is a judge. His parents are social. When the boy has to describe a picture for an eighth grade assignment he is told by his father to use another picture, not the one hanging in his father’s study. The father changes jobs and then is fired for being drunk from the job he has taken at the insurance company. The family has gone to live on the edge of town. There are no more parties. After his father’s death, his mother is willing to give the boy the picture.

    Chess, the opening of the Stasi files, and the reunification of Germany are matters driving the second story. Modern German history provides many notable back stories. A man’s wife avoids an operation and she dies just after his retirement. Evenings he drinks. She had been a violinist in the city orchestra. The intimacy of the couple is exclusive retrospectively until the widower believes that there had been another man.

    In another story the man, Thomas, has two women, Jutta and Veronika. He believes he should have a bifurcated existence. He acquires a third woman, Helga, until he feels that at age forty-nine he needs to disentangle himself from all of them. Later he travels around staying in monasteries. This story is particularly amusing with a surprising ending. Other stories detail human mysteries and foibles. The writing is excellent.

  • celebstruth
    14:39 on June 2nd, 2012
    Reply to comment

    Everything anyone would have to know about the Holocaust is in this book. It just doesn’t give numbers, it puts faces on those who where lost, and gives credit to those who tried to make a diffrence.

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