The Assault

The Assault

by Harry Mulisch


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The Assault 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Sweet_Bee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A stunning novelization that explores the themes of guilt and innocence using a single devastating incident in the life of a Dutch child who survives the Nazi occupation of Holland. He reaches adulthood not fully understanding all that went wrong, the domino effect of one act of violence which cost him his family and the life they shared. Through a series of encounters with those in his past we learn the complex truth about this one moment in time. It reminds one that it is all too easy to assign blame without knowing all the facts. Once all the layers of the onion are peeled away every act of courage revealed, as well as the unintended consequences of making honorable choices.
Othemts on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
On a quiet street in Haarlem a Dutch Nazi collaborator is assassination by the Resistance. The Germans retaliate by destroying the house in front of which the body was found and executing all of the inhabitants. The sole survivor is 12-year old Anton. Anton manages to lead a seemingly normal life albeit one directed by apathy. The novel follows Anton's life through various episodes in which he forced to recall that night and learn scraps of the truth behind why his family was killed. Mulisch writes a thought-provoking novel about the moral gray areas in wartime but not without some hope and humor.Favorite Passages:Only later did Anton realize that almost nobody voted rationally, but simply out of self-interest, or because he felt an affinity for the members of a certain party, or because the leading candidate inspired confidence. It was phsycobiological, in a way. In a subsequent election he voted somewhat more conservatively, for a newly founded party that claimed that the difference between right and left was obsolete. Still, national politics meant little to him: about as much as paper airplanes would mean to the survivor of a plane crash.
jwhenderson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Assault by Harry Mulisch is one of the best novels I have read, in fact it is possibly one of the finest examples of European postwar fiction. Mulisch focuses on the persistence of memory in his protagonist, Anton Steenwijk. It is his memory of the massacre of his family near the end of World War II that permeates and shapes the rest of his life in ways that he has difficulty comprehending. Mulisch, using a taut and subtle style, explores questions of guilt and innocence, heroism and cowardice in this spellbinding and moving novel.
CR-Buell More than 1 year ago
In postwar literature the horrors of Naziism tend to be painted in broad strokes. Writers like Gunter Grass and Heinrich Boll have created masterpieces in which they explore the larger implications and impact of National Socialism. In The Assault Harry Mulisch narrows it all down to a finer point; the impact of one event on the life of one man. In occupied Holland, just weeks before liberation, a Nazi collaborator is shot in front of 12 y/o Anton Steenwijk's house. The events that quickly follow will shape the rest of Anton's life. In this short novel we follow Anton through all the rage, grief, and confusion he feels as he tries to move on. As Anton, and we, slowly learn more about that night we find our initial assumptions being challenged. And through Anton Mulisch gives us a clear picture of all the rage, grief, and confusion that was WWII. The Assault is one of the finest pieces of postwar literature you'll ever read.
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bethclem More than 1 year ago
The structure is brilliant, and the story packs the punch of great moral fiction. The eponymous assault, a shocking event that changes the narrator's life, is first seen by him as a child, but in no way understood except as it affects him personally. Then scene by scene as he grows up, Mulisch adds to his understanding of why what happened happened and what it means, until by the end the motives of all the actors in the event are understandable, and even compel forgiveness. A thrilling piece of craft, and art.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Each of Mulisch's novels deals in one way or another with the myriad ways in which things that happened in the past continue to effect our lives, and how they help to mold us into the people we are. In this novel he discusses how the terrible things that occured in WWII can leave one mentally and emotionally scarred, and I think it grants each of us an insight into human nature, and the ways in which we are able to cope with horrific experiences. Mulisch writes from a uniquely Dutch perspective, but in most cases his stories could have happened in any of the countries occupied by the Germans in WWII.