‘Munich’ is a historical fiction novel covering a brief period in 1938 during which the world held its breath while the English, Italians and French tried to stop the Germans from going to war with Czechoslovakia.
Hugh Legat and Paul Hartman were best friends at Oxford in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Legat is now a junior private secretary to British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain while Paul Hartman is a German Diplomat and part of a group trying to put an end to Hitler’s rise.
As Chamberlain is preparing to meet Adolf Hitler in Munich for a final attempt to stop war in Czechoslovakia, Hartman obtains documents that have the potential to affect the outcome of the meeting. He does what he can to ensure the presence of his old friend Legat in Munich as part of the British team so that he can pass on the vital information.
Neither Legat nor Hartman are natural spies. The lengths they need to go to in order to carry secret documents, meet, and exchange documents, as well as their relationships with their bosses and other colleagues is almost comic. And they don’t even know if their efforts will be enough to avert the current crisis or those in the future.
When Chamberlain manages to reach an agreement with Hitler, he is proclaimed a hero and the entire world breathes a sigh of relief that war has been averted. But Hitler and his team are already planning to make this agreement irrelevant.
This novel was very atmospheric and showed the desperation of those trying to stop Hitler from going to war. And while they thought they had made progress, we all know now the hopelessness of the situation. Could anything have been done to change the outcome?
Harris has done an excellent job of combining fact and fiction to bring the feelings of the time to life. He has given us some wonderful characters that make us feel as though we are there.
I enjoyed this novel and I’m looking forward to the next novel from Robert Harris.