World War II. The final days of the Third Reich. Hermann Karnau, a sound engineer, is obsessively compiling an archive of every conceivable nuance of human sound. Karnau's work so impresses Hitler's leading propagandist that he entrusts his five children to Karnau's care while his wife is giving birth to the sixth. Helga, the eldest daughter, who is wise beyond her years, forms a warm bond of friendship with the engineer.
Karnau's assignments take him to Nazi party rallies, where he records the rantings of leaders, the roar of approving crowds, the labored breathing of the crippled, the rasp of throats constricted with fear; to Alsace, where he plays his part in silencing any sound that is not German; to the Eastern Front, where he records the screams and death rattles of fallen soldiers.
As Germany sinks into blood and destruction, Helga bears withess to the disintegration of her family - her mother's instability, her father's infidelity and pathetic denial that defeat is near.
In the novel's bracing conclusion, Karnau joins the family in Hitler's bunker for the ultimate challenge of his career: to record the Fuhrer's last utterances.
Original title: Flughunde
Genre: Fiction→ Historical→ World War II→ General