The 66-year old writer and sharp critic of the Federal Republic recalls his youth as a 15-to 19-year-old in the early years of Hitler's rule. He remembers school and, even more importantly, life outside school, in Catholic Cologne: the normality and the sense of doom, the manageable apprehensions of those days. The Böll family was insulated by a Catholic milieu and bouts of penury; for much of the time, National Socialism was a distant unpleasantness, from which one suffered, with which one made minimal compromises. A good evocation of a still-shielded life: the sorrows of young Böll against the background of approaching war. Splendidly translated-but would a few explanatory notes have been intrusive?
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