Book Review: Good People by Nir Baram

June 15, 2016

Good People by Nir Baram is a fictional novel about taking place in Germany and Russia during World War II. Mr. Baram is an Israeli author, this book was translated by Jeffrey Green.

  • 432 pages
  • Publisher: Text Publishing Company
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1925240959

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My rat­ing for Good People — 3
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Good People by Nir Baram is a very ambitious and well researched novel which tries to understand how good people simply roll over and help commit atrocities. How good people “understand” that the greater good is worth more than the individual’s life, soul and ethics.

The novel comes off, at times, high-browed and literary at other times immensely interesting, and at times simply draining. This is one of those books that you need to read, think about, and digest not simply flip through the pages.

Mr. Baram asks a lot of questions (is murdering people outright more noble than a bureaucrat sending them to their deaths? Are the Germans that assisted the Nazis the same as the Russians assisting Stalin’s purges?), but does not give many, if any, answers.

What I found a bit confusing was that the two main characters have the advantage of hindsight. The two see the world as someone would from today’s world rather than someone fighting for their lives, daily, in those dark times.

I found it hard to love this book, one the reasons is that non of the characters are sympathetic or relatable, I got the feeling that even the author didn’t like them. Mr.  Baram wrote a sophisticated book, but added nothing new the discussion of “why good people do bad things” and the herd mentality which, frighteningly, seems to regenerate every century or so.

Thomas Heiselberg is a market researcher working in Berlin, 1938. When the “Jewish” retail store he has been working for gets destroyed Thomas puts his talents at the hands of the Nazis helping them build “models” of the conquered areas to help with displacement (and murder) the population.

Sasha Weissberg, a Communist Jew in Leningrad, heard her parents and their intellectual friends talk against Stalin’s government. When the group gets arrested, Sasha decides that the best chance she has to save her parents and find her brothers is to work with the secret police, committing atrocities and helping write confessions.

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Zohar — Man of la Book
Dis­claimer: I got this book for free
*Ama­zon links point to an affil­i­ate account


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