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The Man in the High Castle

Written by: Philip K. Dick
Narrated by: Jeff Cummings
Length: 9 hrs and 58 mins
3.5 out of 5 stars (54 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

“The single most resonant and carefully imagined book of Dick’s career.” —New York Times

It’s America in 1962. Slavery is legal once again. The few Jews who still survive hide under assumed names. In San Francisco, the I Ching is as common as the Yellow Pages. All because some twenty years earlier the United States lost a war - and is now occupied by Nazi Germany and Japan.

This harrowing, Hugo Award-winning novel is the work that established Philip K. Dick as an innovator in science fiction while breaking the barrier between science fiction and the serious novel of ideas. In it Dick offers a haunting vision of history as a nightmare from which it may just be possible to wake.

©1962 Philip K. Dick, © renewed 1990 by Laura Coelho, Christopher Dick, and Isa Hackett. (P)2014 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

A Philosophical Foray into an Under-utilized World

Much like other offerings from Philip K. Dick, ‘Man in the High Castle’ is heavy on poetic philosophy set in a fascinating world. Unfortunately, Dick once again sacrifices story by under-utilizing the rich characters and settings to serve existential philosophical discussion.

If you like history, alternate-history fiction, sci-fi, or philosophy, you’ll enjoy this book. But be warned, it doesn’t score high on emotion or thrills. If you like Star Wars, this is not your cup of tea. If you like Star Trek, welcome.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Not Dick's best

Fantastic narration, but I found the narrative thread easy to lose. Too many subplots I didn't care about at all, and a lot of dialogue was simply bad.

Maybe I just didn't get it, but overall, not Dick's strongest work.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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A boring slog, punctuated by casual bigotry.

Full of boring, unlikable characters, slow to get going, and containing a ton of racism only barely justified by the setting. I want my money back.

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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Don't be sucked in by the compelling premise!

The characters are wooden and entirely unbelievable! The performance was fine considering the material the narrator was working with!

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • J
  • 2018-09-04

Amazing book, amazing voice acting and accents.

I don’t understand the ending though, is it a fourth wall break or something? Makes no sense to me.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Starts out good, goes nowhere

Naration is good, but the story builds up to nothing and just fizzles out. The characters also don't feel very believable to me. Maybe I'm just completely missing the point of the book.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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zzzzzz

I work on the show. least to say, they make a much more interesting product

0 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Gray
  • Plano, TX, United States
  • 2015-06-23

Wanted to see what all the buzz was about!

I watched the pilot on Amazon and then picked up the book. Interesting premise but was difficult to always comprehend his steam of thought. The audio book made it much easier for me to enjoy.

I probably need to listen again to try and catch more. Book is a different direction from the TV show... But enjoyed it. Would recommend... Just realize that this isn't your typical novel...

83 of 88 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Michael G Kurilla
  • ROCKVILLE, MD, United States
  • 2015-07-28

Alternative history

The Man in the High Castle is PK Dick's 1962 Hugo award winning novel of an alternate history where the US has lost WWII. In this vision, due to the assassination of FDR in his fist term, the subsequent US president fails to prepare the nation for war with a quick defeat after Pearl Harbor and the fall of England due to lack of US support. The country is divided between the Japanese controlling the west coast to the Rockies, while Germany controls the East with the Rocky Mountain region somewhat murky. Germany dominates science and has made it to Mars and Venus, while they continue to move across the globe with ethnic cleansing. The story centers around several characters barely surviving, including introspective Japanese. Most intriguing is a story within a story concept from which the title is derived, referring to the mysterious author of another alternate history where the US has won the war.

The sci-fi elements are minimal especially given the span of time, although for 1962, colonization of Mars and Venus was probably novel with the US Mercury and Gemini space missions barely getting into orbit. The focus is mainly on how the various characters respond to their situations, while at the same time describing a more macabre, hopeless world. At the same time, Dick contrasts the Japan and Germany styles of conquest which differ greatly. Dick also was quite prescient in his notions of evolving social mores.

The narration is superb with an excellent range of voices and solid pacing. Don't expect some climatic revolution at the end to reset history. This is a tale of "what if" and Dick provide a compelling, credible, and engaging alternative version.

117 of 125 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • William
  • KEARNEY, NE, United States
  • 2015-12-04

Tough listen

Any additional comments?

Story was very good and engaging. Narrator does the worst accents I've heard in a long time . Germans sound more English, Italians sound Russian. Very distracting for me

49 of 54 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Luke A. Reynolds
  • New York, NY
  • 2016-03-10

A classic ruined by its narrator

Philip K. Dick's Man in the High Castle is a classic. An unflinching alternate history with science fiction sprinkled liberally throughout the background (space colonization, 45 minute rocket flights from Northern Europe to San Francisco, and an intriguing passing mention of the damming and draining of the Mediterranean to gain massive amounts of land are three spoiler-free examples). For those who have found themselves here via Amazon's mini-series: The book and show are different entities with different foci. You will find the book to have different character priorities - I would urge you, despite this, to enjoy both the novel and the series as different approaches to the same rough story. I will say no more about the book - there's a reason it's a classic and should be read. I cannot, however, recommend this audiobook of it.

The narrator, quite simply, ruins it. Dick's work was published in 1963 and is deliberately harsh in its language, especially when it comes to race - he was making a point. But the racial and national slurs that pervade the work seem tame compared to the outrageously stereotype accents used by the narrator. The Japanese voices would be at home in Second World War Warner Brothers' cartoon propaganda, the Germans are right out of 'Allo 'Allo or Dad's Army, and one of the main protagonists' Jewish ancestry and faith is demonstrated by a straight out of central casting "Jewish New Yorker" so bad it would make Jackie Mason and Woody Allen wince in pain (which makes no sense as Dick plainly states the character has gone out of his way to hide his background for safety reasons). Read the book or find another recording, but avoid this version (and this narrator) if you want anything other than painful stereotypes.

44 of 50 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Ray
  • 2015-08-12

Grating Voices

I've listened to dozens of books on Audible, and this performance is the worst. I wish I could rate the performance zero stars. It seems the reader has never actually heard a Japanese, Jewish, or German person speak. They all sound like caricatures. Stereotypes. It's almost offensive. Each Japanese character sounds like a buck-toothed 1940s US propaganda cartoon. The main Jewish character sounds like the unholy offspring of Jackie Mason and Yogi the Bear. The main female character sounds like a Kids in the Hall sketch. I could barely pay attention to the story. Terrible.

105 of 121 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • tomcatx
  • 2015-12-12

Unfinished

The author never really finished this book. After a while, it's seem to lose focus and he never really tied the story together fully. The television series is actually much better.

17 of 19 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • TallDenverite
  • Denver, CO
  • 2015-07-21

Couldn't bear the voice.

I've listened to the first two chapters and I can't continue. Instead of listening to the story, I can only think about how much I dislike the voice actor.

73 of 86 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Richard
  • Highlands Ranch, Colorado
  • 2015-10-03

I'll never get those hours back

Painful listen. Narrator's accent work on the characters was tough to listen to, as well as, the story that started, jumped around and just ended. Brutal

23 of 28 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • BDHumbert
  • Moon Township, PA USA
  • 2018-10-29

I am

A huge fan of the Amazon series so getting this to be able to understand the source versus the series was great. Highly entertaining and recommended for series fans

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Michael
  • Grapevine, TX, United States
  • 2018-05-24

Don't watch it if the TV series pulled you in

The key difference between the novel and the TV series is that stuff happens in the TV series. The novel is all introspection and inner monologue of some pretty mundane stuff. It is set against the backdrop of the interesting premise, but it is not ABOUT those things.

The book follows four main characters as they ponder proper etiquette in a stifling culture. Spoiler alerts: A scary plot by the Germans is discussed but never comes to pass.

The narrator was pretty bad, but then again, the language he was charged with reading was racist and stilted. Most of the book is written in broken English. Why? It's mostly introspective. Why would a Japanese leader think in broken English?

In short, the book is a hot mess. The TV series is pretty good.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2018-09-16

Great Alt-History but a disappointing end

The universe described by Dick is really interesting, but end is a little bit disappointing and some of the accents of the narrator are a little bit too exaggerated.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2018-03-09

Great performance, story not so great.

it's quite different from the first book I've read from Philip K Dick... the story gos slow and sometimes you get annoyed. the idea for the books it's really amazing but the store is a little bit disappointing

0 of 1 people found this review helpful