The Man in the High Castle

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This article is about the novel. For the 2015 television series adaptation, see The Man in the High Castle (TV series).
The Man in the High Castle
The Man in the High Castle.jpg
Cover of first edition (hardcover)
Author Philip K. Dick
Country United States
Language English
Genre Alternate history
Publisher Putnam
Publication date
January 1, 1962
Media type Print (Hardcover & Paperback)
Pages 239
OCLC 145507009

The Man in the High Castle (1962) is an alternate history novel by American writer Philip K. Dick. Set in 1962, fifteen years after a longer World War II (1939–1947), the novel concerns intrigues between the victorious Axis PowersImperial Japan and Nazi Germany—as they rule over the former United States, as well as daily life under the resulting totalitarian rule. The Man in the High Castle won a Science Fiction Achievement Award (Hugo Award) in 1963.

Reported inspirations include Ward Moore's alternate Civil War history, Bring the Jubilee (1953), various classic World War II histories, and the I Ching (referenced in the novel). The novel includes a novel within the novel, that constitutes an alternate history within this alternate history (wherein the Allies defeat the Axis, though in a manner distinct from the actual historical outcome).


The narrative alternates among those of the characters, providing a broad picture of quotidian life in totalitarian America, both in the Japanese-controlled areas as well as the Nazi occupied sections.


Giuseppe Zangara's assassination of US President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933 led to the weak governments of John Nance Garner (formerly FDR's Vice President), and subsequently of Republican John W. Bricker in 1941. Both politicians failed to lead the country to recovery from the Great Depression and also maintained the country's isolationist policy against participating in World War II; thus, the US had insufficient military capabilities to assist the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union against Nazi Germany, or to defend itself against Japan in the Pacific. The Nazis then conquered the Soviet Union and then exterminated most of its Slavic peoples; allowing a few to live in reservations. In the Pacific, the Japanese destroyed the entire US Navy fleet in a decisive, definitive attack on Pearl Harbor, then conquered Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand and Oceania during the early 1940s. Afterward, the Axis Powers, attacking from opposite coasts, conquered the coastal US and, by 1947, the US and other remaining Allied forces had all surrendered to the Axis.

Japan established the occupied Pacific States of America out of Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, parts of Nevada and Washington as part of the Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere. The remaining Mountain, Great Plains and Southwestern states became the Rocky Mountain States, a buffer between the PSA and the remaining US, now a racially-purged Nazi puppet state. Having defeated the Allies, the Third Reich and Imperial Japan became the world's superpowers and consequently embarked upon a Cold War. After Adolf Hitler's syphilitic incapacitation, German Chancellor Martin Bormann assumed power as Führer of Germany. Bormann proceeded to create a colonial empire to increase Germany's Lebensraum by using technology to drain the Mediterranean Sea and convert it into farmland (see Atlantropa), while Arthur Seyss-Inquart also oversees the colonization of Africa and extermination of most of its inhabitants. Meanwhile, the Reich sends spaceships to colonize Mars and other parts of the Solar System. One core narrative element, Operation Dandelion, concerns the plan of a preemptive Nazi nuclear strike on Japan. The Nazis "have the hydrogen bomb" and the ability to wipe out the Japanese archipelago. Their nuclear energy capabilities also fuel extremely fast rocket air travel and the colonization of the moon, Venus, and Mars. Soon after the novel begins, Bormann dies, initiating a power struggle between Joseph Goebbels, Reinhard Heydrich, Hermann Göring, and other top Nazis to succeed him as Reichskanzler.

The Grasshopper Lies Heavy[edit]

Several characters in The Man in the High Castle read the popular novel The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, by Hawthorne Abendsen, whose title, putatively, derives from the Bible verse: "The grasshopper shall be a burden" (Ecclesiastes 12:5). Thus, The Grasshopper Lies Heavy constitutes a novel within a novel, wherein Abendsen writes of an alternate universe where the Axis powers lost World War II (1939–1947). For this reason, the Germans have banned the novel in the occupied US. Nevertheless, it is a widely read book in the Pacific and its publication is legal in the neutral countries.

The Grasshopper Lies Heavy postulates that President Roosevelt survives assassination but forgoes re-election in 1940, honoring George Washington's two-term limit. The next president, Rexford Tugwell, removes the Pacific fleet from Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, saving it from Japanese attack, which ensures that the US enters the conflict a well-equipped naval power. Great Britain retains most of its military-industrial strength, contributing more to the Allied war effort, leading to Rommel's defeat in North Africa; the British advance through the Caucasus to fight alongside with the Soviets to victory in the Battle of Stalingrad; Italy reneges on its membership in the Axis Powers and betrays them; British armor and the Red Army jointly conquer Berlin; and, at the end of the war, the Nazi leaders—including Adolf Hitler—are tried for their war crimes; the Führer's last words are Deutsche, hier steh' ich ("Germans, here I stand"), in imitation of Martin Luther.

Post-war, Winston Churchill remains Britain's leader and, because of its military-industrial might, the British Empire does not collapse; the US establishes strong business relations with Chiang Kai-shek's right-wing regime in China, after vanquishing the Communist Mao Zedong. The British Empire becomes racist and more expansionist post-war, while the US outlaws Jim Crow, resolving its racism by the 1950s. Both changes provoke racialist-cultural tensions between the US and the UK, leading them to a Cold War for global hegemony between the two vaguely liberal, democratic, capitalist societies. Although the end of the novel is never depicted in the text, one character claims the book ends with the British Empire eventually defeating the US, becoming the world's only superpower.


The Man in the High Castle focuses on a loose collection of characters. Some know each other, others are connected in indirect ways as they all cope with living under totalitarianism. Three characters guide their lives using the I Ching:

  • Nobusuke Tagomi is a trade missioner in Japanese San Francisco. Initially, the reader is led into his world only slightly; this character seems like he will be a minor functionary and unimportant, but events unfold in a way that drags him into both central and peripheral conflicts with agendas beyond his control.
  • Frank Frink works for the Wyndham–Matson Corporation, forging pre-war Americana artifacts, fraudulently supplying them to Robert Childan, who sells them to visiting Japanese tourists who romanticize the American past; Frink is fired for expressing his anger. He is a secret Jew ( Fink) who conceals his identity to avoid extermination in a Nazi camp. He is a veteran of the Pacific War.
  • Juliana Frink, a judo instructor, is Frank's ex-wife. Her character's importance grows, and she becomes central to the plot. She is also unwittingly used throughout the book by a hired assassin.

Others believe different things:

  • Robert Childan owns American Artistic Handcrafts, an Americana antiques business on Montgomery Street in San Francisco, supplied in part by Wyndham–Matson Inc. He believes the items he sells are genuine, but cannot distinguish the authentic from the counterfeit; Tagomi is one of his best customers, who buys American for himself and as gifts for visiting businessmen. Childan has adopted the manners, cadences of speech in English, aesthetics, and ways of thinking of the Japanese occupiers, and admires the Nazis. Yet, despite his deference, he is privately contemptuous of the Japanese, retaining his pre-war racist beliefs, according to which Asian and African races are essentially inferior. Nonetheless, he is very conscious of his image, often deliberating (to himself) in an Asian mentality, how his actions might appear to others.
  • Wyndam-Matson (Frank Frink's boss) muses about the difference between a real antique and a reproduction antique; via his mistress, he introduces the novel The Grasshopper Lies Heavy to the plot and is the plot device used to show the initial differences of opinion in the novel regarding the authentic and the false, the differing opinions being those who believe The Grasshopper Lies Heavy is merely a work of good fiction, and those that believe it shows something more (a theme that reaches its climax at the end of the novel).
  • Mr. Baynes, a wealthy Swedish industrialist, is actually Rudolf Wegener, a Captain in Reich Naval Counter-Intelligence, who is en route to meet Tagomi, through whom he expects to meet an important Japanese representative. He is taken aback by the pride Tagomi takes in gifting him with a "genuine Mickey Mouse watch" (bought from Childan).
  • Joe Cinnadella is the false identity of a Nazi deep cover spy tasked with assassinating Hawthorne Abendsen, author of the Grasshopper Lies Heavy. Juliana has a psychotic episode and slashes his throat in a Denver hotel room and he bleeds to death. Inadvertently, Juliana has saved Abendsen's life.
  • Baynes travels undercover to San Francisco as a Swedish merchant. There, he talks with Tagomi, but, in pursuit of his true mission, must postpone further meetings until the arrival, from Japan, of Mr. Yatabe (General Tedeki, formerly of the Imperial General Staff). His mission is to warn the Japanese of Operation Löwenzahn (Operation Dandelion), a nuclear attack upon the Japanese Archipelago Home Islands planned by Joseph Goebbels's faction within the ruling Nazi Party and opposed by Heydrich's faction.
  • Frank Frink and his friend Ed McCarthy start a jewelry business; their beautiful, original creations strangely move the Americans and Japanese who see them. He is arrested after Wyndham-Matson contacts the authorities to report that Frink is Jewish—an accusation that Wyndham-Matson knows will result in Frink's extradition and extermination.
  • Tagomi, unable to acknowledge the unpleasant rumors he has heard, finds solace in action, fighting the Nazi agents attempting to kill Baynes; he uses the "authentic" US Army Colt revolver bought from Childan for this task. Then, he retaliates against local Nazi authority.
  • Juliana, living in Colorado, begins a sexual relationship with Joe Cinnadella, a truck driver claiming to be an Italian war veteran. He wants to meet Hawthorne Abendsen (the eponymous Man in the High Castle, so called because he allegedly lives in a guarded residence), author of The Grasshopper Lies Heavy. Juliana travels with him, but discovers that he is actually a Swiss assassin hired to kill the writer, who is using her to seem more respectable and to help him to gain access to the Abendsen home; she attempts to leave, but he bars her way. Distressed beyond reason, Juliana cuts Joe's throat with the razor blade which she had considered using to commit suicide. She completes the journey alone, meets author Abendsen, and induces him to reveal the truth about The Grasshopper Lies Heavy.
  • Robert Childan desperately attempts to retain his pride despite his subordination to the Japanese overlords. Although ambivalent about the lost war and foreign occupiers of his country, whom he both loathes and respects, he discovers a sense of cultural pride in himself while holding Frink's jewelry. He also investigates the widespread forgery in the antiques market amid increased Japanese interest in genuine Americana.


Dick said he conceived The Man in the High Castle when reading Bring the Jubilee (1953), by Ward Moore, which occurs in an alternate twentieth-century US wherein the Confederate States of America won the American Civil War.[citation needed] In the acknowledgments, he mentions other influences: The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (1960), by William L. Shirer; Hitler: A Study in Tyranny (1962), by Alan Bullock; The Goebbels Diaries (1948), Louis P. Lochner, translator; Foxes of the Desert (1960), by Paul Carrell; and the I Ching (1950), Richard Wilhelm, translator.[1][2][full citation needed][verification needed]

The acknowledgments have three references to traditional Japanese and Tibetan poetic forms; (i) volume one of the Anthology of Japanese Literature (1955), edited by Donald Keene, from which is cited the haiku on page 48; (ii) from Zen and Japanese Culture (1955), by Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki, from which is cited a waka on page 135; and (iii) the Tibetan Book of the Dead (1960), edited by W. Y. Evans-Wentz.[citation needed]

Nathanael West's Miss Lonelyhearts (1933)[3] is also mentioned in the text,[4] written before the Roosevelt assassination divergence point that separates the world of The Man in the High Castle from ours.[original research?][citation needed] In this novella, "Miss Lonelyhearts" is a male newspaper journalist who writes anonymous advice as an agony aunt to forlorn readers during the height of the Great Depression; hence, "Miss Lonelyhearts" tries to find consolation in religion, casual sex, rural vacations and work, none of which provide him with the sense of authenticity and engagement with the outside world that he needs.[original research?][citation needed] West's book is about the elusive quality of interpersonal relationships and quest for personal meaning at a time of political turmoil within the United States.

Phillip K. Dick used the I Ching to make decisions crucial to the plot of The Man in the High Castle just as characters within the novel use the I Ching to guide decisions.[1]


The Man in the High Castle, 2001 Penguin Classics edition, cover by James P. Keenan.


Avram Davidson praised the novel as "a superior work of fiction", citing Dick's use of the I Ching as "fascinating". Davidson concluded that "It's all here—extrapolation, suspense, action, art, philosophy, plot, [and] character."[5]

His novel's acclaim was a career highpoint for Dick; as noted in his 1982 obituary in The New York Times, The Man in the High Castle won a Science Fiction Achievement Award (Hugo Award) in 1963.[6][7]



A Man in the High Castle audiobook—read by George Guidall, unabridged, approximately 9.5 hours over 7 audio cassettes—was released in 1997.[8] Another unabridged audiobook version was released in 2008 by Blackstone Audio, read by Tom Weiner, running approximately 8.5 hours over 7 CDs.[9][10]


In October 2010, the BBC announced it would co-produce a four-part TV adaptation of The Man in the High Castle for BBC One together with Headline Pictures, FremantleMedia Enterprises and Scott Free Films. Ridley Scott, who directed Blade Runner, a loose adaptation of another Dick novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, was to be executive producer of the adaptation by Howard Brenton.[11] In February 2013, Variety reported that SyFy was adapting the book as a four-part miniseries, with Ridley Scott and Frank Spotnitz as executive producers, co-produced with Scott Free Prods., Headline Pictures and Electric Shepherd Prods.[12]

In October 2014, Amazon's film production unit began filming the pilot episode of The Man in the High Castle in Roslyn, Washington,[13] for a new television drama to air on the Amazon Prime web video streaming service.[14] The pilot episode was released by Amazon Studios on January 15, 2015,[15][better source needed] and was Amazon's "most watched pilot ever" according to Amazon Studios' vice president, Roy Price.[16] On 18 February 2015, Amazon greenlit a series.[17]


In a 1976 interview, Dick said he planned to write a sequel novel to The Man in the High Castle: "And so there's no real ending on it. I like to regard it as an open ending. It will segue into a sequel sometime."[18] Dick said that he had "started several times to write a sequel",[19] but progressed little, because he was too disturbed by his original research for The Man in the High Castle and could not mentally bear "to go back and read about Nazis again."[19] He suggested that the sequel would be a collaboration with another author: "Somebody would have to come in and help me do a sequel to it. Someone who had the stomach for the stamina to think along those lines, to get into the head; if you're going to start writing about Reinhard Heydrich, for instance, you have to get into his face. Can you imagine getting into Reinhard Heydrich's face?"[19]

Two chapters of the proposed sequel were published in a collection of essays about Dick titled The Shifting Realities of Philip K. Dick.[20] The chapters describe Gestapo officers reporting to Nazi Party officials about their time-travel visits to a parallel world in which the Nazi conquest has failed, but which contains nuclear weapons, available for the stealing by the Nazis back to their world. Ring of Fire,[citation needed] describing the emergence of a hybrid Japanese–American culture, was a working title for the novel.[citation needed]

On occasion, Dick said that 1967's The Ganymede Takeover began as a sequel to The Man in the High Castle, but that it did not coalesce as such. Specifically, the Ganymedans occupying the Earth began as the Imperial Japanese occupying the conquered US.[citation needed]

Dick's novel Radio Free Albemuth also is rumored to have started as a sequel to The Man in the High Castle.[21] Dick described the plot of this early version of Radio Free Albemuth—then titled VALISystem A—writing: "... a divine and loving ETI [extraterrestrial intelligence] ... help[s] Hawthorne Abendsen, the protagonist-author in [The Man in the High Castle], continue on in his difficult life after the Nazi secret police finally got to him... VALISystem A, located in deep space, sees to it that nothing, absolutely nothing, can prevent Abendsen from finishing his novel."[21] The novel eventually evolved into a new story unrelated to The Man in the High Castle.[21] Dick ultimately abandoned the Albemuth book, unpublished during his lifetime, though portions were salvaged and used for 1981's VALIS.[21] The full book was published in 1985, three years after Dick's death.[22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Cover, Arthur Byron (February 1974). "Interview with Philip K. Dick". Vertex 1 (6). Retrieved July 23, 2014. 
  2. ^ Dick 1962, pp. ix-x.[full citation needed][verification needed]
  3. ^ Nathanael West (1933) Miss Lonelyhearts, New York, N.Y.:Liveright Publ.
  4. ^ Dick, Philip. "The Man in the High Castle". 
  5. ^ "Books", F&SF, June 1963, p.61
  6. ^ "Philip K. Dick, Won Awards For Science-Fiction Works". The New York Times. March 3, 1982. Retrieved March 30, 2010. 
  7. ^ "1963 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-09-27. 
  8. ^ Review of The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick : SFFaudio
  9. ^ THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE - Blackstone Audio ISBN 978-1-4332-2817-9
  10. ^ AudioFile audiobook review: THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE By Philip K. Dick, Read by Tom Weiner
  11. ^ Sweney, Mark (7 October 2010). "Ridley Scott to return to work of sci-fi icon for BBC mini-series". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 7 October 2010. 
  12. ^ "Syfy, Ridley Scott, Frank Spotnitz set miniseries". Variety. 
  13. ^ Muir, Pat (5 Oct 2014). "Roslyn hopes new TV show brings 15 more minutes of fame". Yakima Herald. Retrieved 1 Nov 2014. 
  14. ^ "Amazon Studios Adds Drama ‘The Man In The High Castle’, Comedy ‘Just Add Magic’ To Pilot Slate". Deadline. 
  15. ^ " The Man in the High Castle: Season 1, Episode 1". Retrieved 17 January 2015. [better source needed]
  16. ^ Hilary Lewis, 2015, "Amazon Orders 5 New Series Including 'Man in the High Castle'," The Hollywood Reporter (online), February 18, 2015, see [1], accessed 27 February 2015.
  17. ^ Adi Robertson, 2015, "Amazon green-lights The Man in the High Castle TV series," THE VERGE (online), February 18, 2015, see [2], accessed 27 February 2015.
  18. ^ Hodel, Mike. "Hour 25: A Talk With Philip K. Dick, KPFK-FM, North Hollywood, California. June 26, 1976". Retrieved 18 September 2015. 
  19. ^ a b c Lord RC (15 October 2009). Pink Beam: A Philip K. Dick Companion. p. 106. ISBN 9781430324379. [self-published source]
  20. ^ Dick, Philip K. (1995). "Part 3. Works Related to 'The Man in the High Castle' and its Proposed Sequel". In Sutin, Lawrence. The Shifting Realities of Philip K. Dick: Selected Literary and Philosophical Writings. New York: Vintage. ISBN 0-679-74787-7. 
  21. ^ a b c d Pfarrer, Tony. "A Possible Man in the High Castle Sequel?". Willis E. Howard, III Home Page. Archived from the original on 19 August 2008. Retrieved 22 July 2015. 
  22. ^ "Library of Congress". Retrieved 18 September 2015. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Brown, William Lansing 2006. "Alternate Histories: Power, Politics, and Paranoia in Philip Roth's The Plot against America and Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle", The Image of Power in Literature, Media, and Society: Selected Papers, 2006 Conference, Society for the Interdisciplinary Study of Social Imagery. Wright, Will; Kaplan, Steven (eds.); Pueblo, CO: Society for the Interdisciplinary Study of Social Imagery, Colorado State University-Pueblo; pp. 107–11.
  • Campbell, Laura E. 1992. "Dickian Time in The Man in the High Castle", Extrapolation, 33: 3, pp. 190–201.
  • Carter, Cassie 1995. "The Metacolonization of Dick's The Man in the High Castle: Mimicry, Parasitism and Americanism in the PSA", Science-Fiction Studies #67, 22:3, pp. 333–342.
  • DiTommaso, Lorenzo, 1999. "Redemption in Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle", Science-Fiction Studies # 77, 26:, pp. 91–119.
  • Fofi, Goffredo 1997. "Postfazione", Philip K. Dick, La Svastica sul Sole, Roma, Fanucci, pp. 391–5.
  • Hayles, N. Katherine 1983. "Metaphysics and Metafiction in The Man in the High Castle", Philip K. Dick. Greenberg, M.H.; Olander, J.D. (eds.); New York: Taplinger, 1983, pp. 53–71.
  • Malmgren, Carl D. 1980. "Philip Dick's The Man in the High Castle and the Nature of Science Fictional Worlds", Bridges to Science Fiction. Slusser, George E.; Guffey, George R.; Rose, Mark (eds.); Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press, pp. 120–30.
  • Pagetti, Carlo, 2001a. "La svastica americana" [Introduction], Philip K. Dick, L'uomo nell'alto castello, Roma: Fanucci, pp. 7–26.
  • Proietti, Salvatore, 1989. "The Man in The High Castle: politica e metaromanzo", Il sogno dei simulacri. Pagetti, Carlo; Viviani, Gianfranco (eds.); Milano: Nord, 1989 pp. 34–41.
  • Rieder, John 1988. "The Metafictive World of The Man in the High Castle: Hermeneutics, Ethics, and Political Ideology", Science-Fiction Studies # 45, 15.2: 214-25.
  • Rossi, Umberto, 2000. "All Around the High Castle: Narrative Voices and Fictional Visions in Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle", Telling the Stories of America - History, Literature and the Arts - Proceedings of the 14th AISNA Biennial conference (Pescara, 1997), Clericuzio, A.; Goldoni, Annalisa; Mariani, Andrea (eds.); Roma: Nuova Arnica, pp. 474–83.
  • Simons, John L. 1985. "The Power of Small Things in Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle". The Rocky Mountain Review of Language and Literature, 39:4, pp. 261–75.
  • Warrick, Patricia, 1992. "The Encounter of Taoism and Fascism in The Man in the High Castle", On Philip K. Dick, Mullen et al. (eds.); Terre Haute and Greencastle: SF-TH Inc. 1992, pp. 27–52.

External links[edit]