Books·Canadian

The Good German

An utterly compelling and original novel of historical speculation by Dennis Bock

Dennis Bock

In November 1939, a German anti-fascist named Georg Elser came as close to assassinating Adolf Hitler as anyone ever had. In this gripping novel of alternate history, he doesn't just come close — he succeeds. But he could never have imagined the terrible consequences that would follow from this act of heroism. 

Hermann Göring, masterful political strategist, assumes the Chancellery and quickly signs a non-aggression treaty with the isolationist president Joseph Kennedy that will keep America out of the war that is about to engulf Europe. Göring rushes the German scientific community into developing the atomic bomb, and in August 1944, this devastating new weapon is tested on the English capital. 

London lies in ruins. The war is over, fascism prevails in Europe, and Canada, the Commonwealth holdout in the Americas, suffers on as a client state of the Soviet Union. Georg Elser, blinded in the A-bombing of London, is shipped to Canada and quarantined in a hospice near Toronto called Mercy House. Here we meet William Teufel, a German-Canadian boy who in the summer of 1960 devises a plan that he hopes will distance himself from his German heritage and, unwittingly, brings him face to face with the man whose astonishing act of heroism twenty-one years earlier set the world on its terrifying new path. (From Patrick Crean Editions)

Dennis Bock is a writer, editor and teacher from Toronto. His novel Going Home was a finalist for the 2013 Scotiabank Giller Prize. His other works include the novelsThe Ash Garden and The Communist's Daughter and the short story collection Olympia.

Why Dennis Bock wrote The Good German

"I kind of stumbled across the story of Elser a couple of years ago and I was intrigued. I was impressed by the courage and bravery that this sort of person would have to muster in order to to carry out this amazing plot against Hitler's life.

"He came very close, but not close enough. I had the very basic outlines of his life swimming around in my head for a while. I'm drawn to characters who have a great amount of sway over history. 

I was impressed by the courage and bravery that this sort of person would have to muster in order to to carry out this amazing plot against Hitler's life.

"But also I'm interested in, not so much of the global shifts that occur in history, but how those geopolitical changes and forces affect the smaller people."

Read more in his interview with The Next Chapter.

Interviews with Dennis Bock

Dennis Bock talks about the thinking behind his alternative history novel The Good German. 10:18

Dennis Bock on Going Home Again

8 years ago
Duration 5:56
The Toronto writer shares how he learned he was a Giller finalist and why it's so liberating to start a novel. 5:56

Other books by Dennis Bock

Add some “good” to your morning and evening.

A variety of newsletters you'll love, delivered straight to you.

Sign up now

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?

now