All for Nothing | Granta

  • Published: 07/07/2016
  • ISBN: 9781847087218
  • 129x20mm
  • 352 pages

All for Nothing

Walter Kempowski

Translated by Anthea Bell

In January 1945, the German army is retreating from the Russian advance. Germans are fleeing the occupied territories in their thousands, in cars and carts and on foot. But in a rural East Prussian manor house, the wealthy von Globig family seals itself off from the world.

Protected from the deprivation and chaos around them, they make no preparations to leave until a decision to harbour a stranger for the night begins their undoing. Finally joining the great trek west, the remaining members of the family face at last the catastrophic consequences of the war.

Profoundly evocative of the period, sympathetic yet painfully honest about the motivations of its characters, All for Nothing is a devastating portrait of the complicities and denials of the German people as the Third Reich comes to an end.

It is brilliant, vivid, unsentimental, fast moving, cinematic and, for all its apparent ease of telling, scrupulously well-structured. The distinguished translator Anthea Bell has conveyed Kempowski's wry tone... Kempowski's late masterwork is a universal tract which suggests that history can only present the facts; it is crafted stories such as this which enable us to grasp a sense of the vicious reality of war

Eileen Battersby, Irish Times

A beautiful, forgiving and compassionate book... It reaches its last devastating line with poetic sensibility and the grace of a classical tragedy, confirming Kempowski as a truly great writer... Completely gripping


Seethes with human drama, contradiction and complexity... An astonishing literary achievement

Daily Telegraph

The Author

Walter Kempowski (1929-2007) was one of Germany’s most important post-war writers, known for his acclaimed collection of first-hand accounts of WWII, including Swansong 1945 (Granta, 2014). His critically applauded final novel, All for Nothing (Granta, 2015) was a bestseller in both Germany and the UK.

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‘I was suckled by Mother Earth, he would reflect on occasion, and he would stretch, feeling new strength in his veins.’