Two books have excited me this year. The first is Hans Fallada's Every Man Dies Alone (Melville House Publishing, $27). Written after the Second World War, it was based on fact, but it is much more than fictionalised reportage. It tells the story of an uneducated and unpolitical working-class couple provoked into resistance by the death of their conscript son during the German invasion of France in 1940. Inevitably, they are caught. The husband is guillotined; the wife is imprisoned and then killed in an air raid. But there is a stubborn nobility about them and their protest that grips the reader.
The second book is very different: F P Lock's monumental, two-volume biography of Edmund Burke (Oxford University Press, volume 1: £41 paperback, volume 2: £39 paperback).