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Cover image for All that I am : a novel
All that I am : a novel


1st U.S. ed.
Publication Information:
New York : Harper, ©2011.
Physical Description:
366 pages ; 24 cm
General Note:
"First published by Penguin Group (Australia) in 2011"--Title page verso.
The story of two Jewish Germans -- Hans and Ruth Wesemann -- who resisted Hitler in the 1930s. Based on real events.


Call Number

On Order



Award-winning author Anna Funder delivers an affecting and beautifully evocative debut novel about a group of young German exiles who risk their lives to awaken the world to the terrifying threat of Hitler and Nazi Germany. Based on real-life events and people, All That I Am brings to light the heroic, tragic, and true story of a small group of left-wing German social activists who mounted a fierce and cunning resistance from their perilous London exile, in a novel that fans of Suite Francaise, The Piano Teacher, and Atonement will find irresistible and unforgettable.

"An intimate exploration of human connection and our responsibility to one another." --Colum McCann, author of Let the Great World Spin

Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

Funder follows the success of Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall with a debut novel "reconstructed from fossil fragments, much as you might draw skin and feathers over an assembly of dinosaur bones, to fully see the beast." Ruth Becker glimpses that beast outside her Berlin apartment in 1933, as her showy journalist husband, Hans, makes mojitos on the day that Hitler is appointed chancellor of Germany. The heart of the novel, however, belongs to Ruth's cousin Dora Fabian, leftist agitator, doomed idealist, and soul mate of playwright Ernst Toller. Ruth helps Dora hide Ernst's writings as the Reichstag burns, and she flees with Hans the next day after being questioned about her Communist affiliations. Outside Germany, she works tirelessly for the cause, bringing Nazi preparations for war to the attention of the British. But her relationship with Hans, whose secret activities endanger everyone, crumbles. As the Holocaust begins, Ernst, in New York, relates Dora's role in his life to a typist whose document reaches Ruth in Australia almost 60 years later. By alternating between Ernst and Ruth, Funder leaps through time with alacrity. She adds an integral perspective on a shopworn subject by invoking the lives of Nazi dissidents whose attempts to alert the world to the growing menace were ignored until it was too late. Agent: Sarah Chalfant, the Wylie Agency. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Kirkus Review

Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall, 2003) with the novelized account of German activists who opposed Hitler before World War II. The author uses an unnecessary framing device, having two of the dissidents tell their sometimes-overlapping versions of events. In 2001 Australia, as her short-term memory fails along with her health, Ruth Becker remembers back 70 years to her early adulthood in Germany and England. In 1939 Manhattan, Ernst Toller, a world-renowned playwright and human-rights activist, holes up at the Mayflower Hotel where he dictates to his secretary the events that happened six years earlier. Both narrators are historical figures, as are almost all the "characters" in the book, despite a few name changes. Ruth and Ernst's paths cross in the 1920s. Toller, a decorated soldier during World War I, has been imprisoned for his pacifist activism. Among the pacifists and socialists working to gain his release is Ruth's older cousin Dora. While visiting Dora, 18-year-old Ruth falls deeply in love with journalist Hans Wesemann, whose courageous satirical articles make vicious fun of Hitler and his cronies. Ruth and Hans marry. When Toller leaves prison, where he has managed to write his well-loved plays, Dora becomes his secretary and passionate lover. Toller, scarred by his wartime and prison experience, suffers bouts of serious depression. He wants to marry Dora, but she is a committed feminist who refuses to be tied down. Life as an anti-fascist in late 1920s and early '30s Berlin is a heady mix of idealism, passion and drinking. Then the burning of the Reichstag occurs. Dora is arrested briefly, but it is Ernst the authorities want. Soon Ruth and Hans find themselves in London with Dora, Ernst and numerous other Germans trying to raise the alarm about Hitler. Some find adapting to expatriation harder than others, and one becomes a traitor to the cause. The disquieting historical facts entwined by themes of love and betrayal are powerful enough to make up for flat-footed storytelling.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

A literary work as suspenseful as the best thrillers, Funder's extraordinary first novel is an unflinching portrait of courage in devastating circumstances. The tale unfolds through the dual reminiscences of Ruth Becker, an elderly resident of Sydney in 2001, and Ernst Toller, eminent playwright and former leader of the short-lived Bavarian Republic. Both belonged to a group of left-wing German activists who were forced into exile in London after Hitler came to power, and who risked everything to alert the world especially Britain, whose deliberate blindness grows increasingly infuriating in the novel to the danger the Nazis posed. Settled into New York's Mayflower Hotel in 1939, Toller reworks his autobiography to make the woman who was its emotional heart live once again. Dora Fabian was Ruth's cousin and Toller's lover, and the passionate intensity that defines her political and personal existence blazes through these pages. The moral dilemmas affecting Funder's characters, all based on historical figures, are as strongly evoked as the repressive environment they inhabit and are brave enough to stand against.--Johnson, Sarah Copyright 2010 Booklist

Library Journal Review

Morally fervent fiction, inspired by the story of a German-Jewish activist during World War II; from the author of Samuel Johnson Prize winner Stasiland. (LJ 1/12) (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.