About the author(s)

Lion Feuchtwanger (1884–1958) was known in the 1920s as a bestselling historical novelist, a frequent collaborator with Bertolt Brecht, and an early, outspoken critic of the Nazi movement. Forced into exile in France, Feuchtwanger and his wife were interned by the Vichy government during World War II. They escaped to the United States and settled in Pacific Palisades, where they became central figures in the émigré community that included Brecht as well as Thomas and Heinrich Mann, among many others.

Joshua Cohen is the author of the novels The Netanyahus, Moving Kings, and Witz, among others. He is the editor of He: Shorter Writings of Franz Kafka and I Want to Keep Smashing Myself Until I Am Whole: The Elias Canetti Reader.


"A long-forgotten masterpiece published in 1933 and recently reissued with a revised translation by the novelist Joshua Cohen . . . The novel is an emotional artifact, a remnant of a world sick with foreboding, incredulity, creeping fear, and—this may feel most familiar to us today—the impossibility of gauging whether a society is really at the breaking point."

Gal Beckerman

“Feuchtwanger delineates—with what was, at the time, agonizing prescience—the ever-darker unfolding of the Reich’s repressive mission, resulting in a novel at once unbearable and unputdownable. It is also an alarmingly timely reminder: the Nazis’ first steps—censorship, disinformation, and the sowing of fear and mistrust among citizens—in turn permit the unspeakable . . . [A] masterpiece . . . The exhortation that we read this book is as urgent as Feuchtwanger’s need to write it.”

Claire Messud

"As for Feuchtwanger, the same year that The Oppermanns was published, the German Jewish author was stripped of his citizenship and had his property in Berlin seized and his books burned . . . He ultimately escaped to the United States, where he lived for the last 17 years of his life. Is this still the same country where he’d find refuge?"

Pamela Paul

“[A] methodically harrowing novel . . . McNally Editions has happily brought him back into circulation . . . The question that haunts The Oppermanns is eternally relevant: what kind of resistance is possible against ruthless power? . . . Feuchtwanger is too strong a writer to give a blandly reassuring answer. But the implication of the final pages is clear: in the great theater of history, useless gestures count.”

Alex Ross