Zoo Station

A Novel

Downing, David

Book - 2007
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
Zoo Station
By 1939, Anglo-American journalist John Russell has spent over a decade in Berlin, where his son lives with his mother. He writes human-interest pieces for British and American papers, avoiding the investigative journalism that could get him deported. But as World War II approaches, he faces having to leave his son as well as his girlfriend of several years, a beautiful German starlet. When an acquaintance from his old communist days approaches him to do some work for the Soviets, Russell is reluctant, but he is unable to resist the offer. He becomes involved in other dangerous activities, helping a Jewish family and a determined young American reporter. When the British and the Nazis notice his involvement with the Soviets, Russell is dragged into the murky world of warring intelligence services.

Publisher: New York : Soho Press, c2007
ISBN: 9781569479711
Branch Call Number: M F DOW


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Oct 02, 2013
  • hania4987 rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

This work is a great character study which also captures a taste of life in Nazi Germany at the beginning of 1939. It follows the evermore complicated situation of John Russell, a British-born journalist with an American mother, his German ex-wife and 12 year old son being raised in German society, along with his German girlfriend. He is a veteran of the Great War but has no real allegiance to Britain or America and despises the Nazi regime; he is also a former Communist sympathizer (but none of this is ever fully explained or explored). As events start to invade his own social circle, he is reluctantly drawn into a world of intrigue after he is approached by an old Soviet contact. In his professional life he is privy to a lot of information, but has chosen to suppress the dark side of the Nazi repressions in order to maintain his legal status as a foreign correspondent in order to maintain contact with his son. As he explains to an idealistic American colleague, he is one of 75 million people trying to keep their heads down.

Jun 04, 2013
  • jowalker1955 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Excellent read about pre-WWII Berlin. I am looking forward to reading the other books in the series.

May 27, 2013
  • GeoffAbel rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

An excellent, well-crafted LeCarre-style thriller. Very immersive with good characters and plot and very well researched (sometimes to the point of distraction). Not exactly riveting and the author loses steam from time to time but still very engaging and worth reading.

May 21, 2013
  • Batsen rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

Not bad, but not Alan Furst, either in terms of characters, plotting, or historical atmosphere of the European pre-war era. Try him!

Dec 03, 2011

This is gripping historical fiction -- a must-read for anyone wanting to see pre-war Germany.


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