All That I Am
Goodreads ratings
3.8 / 5

"All That I Am" Summary

By Anna Funder

historical fiction | 368 pages | Published in 2011

All That I Am is a masterful and exhilarating exploration of bravery and betrayal, of the risks and sacrifices some people make for their beliefs, and of heroism hidden in the most unexpected places.When eighteen-year-old Ruth Becker visits her cousin Dora in Munich in 1923, she meets the love of her life, the dashing young journalist Hans Wesemann, and eagerly joins in the heady activities of the militant political left in Germany. Ten years later, Ruth and Hans are married and living in Weimar Berlin when Hitler is elected chancellor of Germany. Together with Dora and her lover, Ernst Toller, the celebrated poet and self-doubting revolutionary, the four become hunted outlaws overnight and are forced to flee to London. Inspired by the fearless Dora to breathtaking acts of courage, the friends risk betrayal and deceit as they dedicate themselves to a dangerous mission: to inform the British government of the very real Nazi threat to which it remains willfully blind. All That I Am is the heartbreaking story of these extraordinary people, who discover that Hitler’s reach extends much further than they had thought.Gripping, compassionate, and inspiring, this remarkable debut novel reveals an uncommon depth of humanity and wisdom. Anna Funder has given us a searing and intimate portrait of courage and its price, of desire and ambition, and of the devastating consequences when they are thwarted.


Estimated read time: 4 min read

One Sentence Summary

An emotional and gripping tale of love, bravery, and betrayal set against the backdrop of Nazi Germany and its aftermath.


"All That I Am" by Anna Funder is a gripping historical novel that delves into the lives of a group of anti-Nazi activists in 1930s Germany. The story is narrated through the perspectives of two characters, Ruth Becker and Toller, and is set against the backdrop of the rise of Hitler and the Nazi regime. Through their experiences, the novel explores themes of love, betrayal, resilience, and the fight for justice in the face of tyranny.

Brief Synopsis

The novel opens in 2001, with Ruth Becker, an elderly woman living in Sydney, Australia, reflecting on her past as a political activist in 1930s Germany. The narrative then shifts back to 1933, where Ruth, her cousin Dora, and their friend Ernst Toller, a famous playwright, are part of a circle of intellectuals and political dissidents opposed to the Nazi regime. As Hitler consolidates power, the group is forced to flee Germany and seek refuge in London.

The story weaves between the past and the present, revealing the challenges faced by the characters as they strive to expose the truth about Nazi atrocities and mobilize international support against the fascist regime. The novel also explores the complex relationships between the characters, including love, loyalty, and betrayal.

Main Events

1Ruth, Dora, and Toller become involved in anti-Nazi activism
2Hitler rises to power, forcing the group to flee to London
3The group attempts to garner international support against the Nazis
4Betrayal and espionage threaten the group's efforts
5Ruth and Toller confront the challenges of exile and loss

Main Characters

Ruth Becker

Ruth is a resilient and determined woman who becomes deeply involved in anti-Nazi activism. She is driven by a strong sense of justice and a desire to expose the truth about Nazi atrocities.


Dora is Ruth's cousin and a fellow activist. She is passionate and idealistic, but also grapples with the personal and political challenges that arise from their struggle against the Nazis.

Ernst Toller

Ernst Toller is a celebrated playwright and political activist. He is deeply committed to the cause of resisting the Nazis and uses his influence to rally support for their efforts.

Themes and Insights

Love and Betrayal

The novel explores the complexities of love and betrayal within the context of political activism. The characters' relationships are tested as they navigate the dangerous landscape of resistance and exile.

Resilience and Resistance

The theme of resilience is central to the novel, as the characters face unimaginable hardships while continuing their fight against the Nazi regime. Their unwavering commitment to resistance serves as a powerful testament to the human spirit.

Truth and Justice

"All That I Am" delves into the pursuit of truth and justice in the face of oppression. The characters are driven by a deep sense of moral duty to expose the atrocities committed by the Nazis and hold them accountable for their crimes.

Reader's Takeaway

Readers of "All That I Am" will be captivated by the compelling portrayal of the characters' struggles and triumphs in the face of overwhelming adversity. The novel offers a poignant exploration of the human experience, emphasizing the enduring power of love, resilience, and the pursuit of justice.


"All That I Am" by Anna Funder is a poignant and thought-provoking novel that immerses readers in the tumultuous political landscape of 1930s Germany. Through the compelling narratives of Ruth, Dora, and Toller, the novel sheds light on the enduring themes of love, betrayal, resilience, and the unwavering pursuit of justice in the darkest of times. Funder's masterful storytelling and rich character development make "All That I Am" a must-read for those interested in historical fiction and the human experience in the face of tyranny.

All That I Am FAQ

  1. What is the genre of 'All That I Am'?

    All That I Am is a historical fiction novel.

  2. Who is the author of 'All That I Am'?

    The author of 'All That I Am' is Anna Funder.

  3. What is the setting of 'All That I Am'?

    The book is set in Germany and London during the rise of Nazism and World War II.

  4. What is the book 'All That I Am' about?

    The novel follows the lives of a group of German anti-Nazi activists and their experiences during the tumultuous years leading up to and during World War II.

  5. Is 'All That I Am' based on a true story?

    Yes, 'All That I Am' is based on real people and events, though it is a work of fiction.