|Ich bin ein naughty boy...|
Woken from a dreamless sleep and with no recollection of the means by which his situation was precipitated Hitler finds himself not dead in his bunker, but rather in a vacant lot in Berlin, in the year 2011, in military dress and all alone. Remarkably, but key to the success of such a Harry Turtledove-esque 'what if' plot device, his appearance goes unremarked, due to the apparent fashion for Hitler impersonators. This is Hitler's foothold on the new century and he quickly carves open the market in satire by exploiting the public's staunch belief that no-one would ever really dare to truly sympathise with Hitler, and that they're laughing at him, not with him, while at every chance explaining to the reader how his excruciating mental preparation and training help him to keep the public eating out of his hands.
In many ways, it's a fairly broad satire of somewhat tired archetypes - the stat-obsessed media exec, the honest news agent, the chameleonic politician, the sweaty, repugnant modern neo-fascists; in many passages, our peculiarly avuncular protagonist expounds at sometimes extreme length any number of topics with mixed success - his theories on the most patriotic dog breeds is an entertaining idea but is unconvincingly delivered - and one reader at least shared my opinion that it just went on too long. But for all that, it did make me titter; I was gently amused in several places by what should really have been a very silly and unlikely novel. So for this reason if for none other*** Vermes' should be applauded for his efforts, and his efforts should be recognised by a broad readership. Do pick up a copy. Schnell!
*** Of course there is the permanent underlying reason that references to Godwin's Law and Hitler in general make my wife crazy.