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Berlin Calling: A Story of Anarchy, Music, The Wall, and the Birth of the New Berlin

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An exhilarating journey through the subcultures, occupied squats, and late-night scenes in the anarchic first few years of Berlin after the fall of the wall Berlin Calling is a gripping account of the 1989 "peaceful revolution" in East Germany that upended communism and the tumultuous years of artistic ferment, political improvisation, and pirate utopias that followed. It’s An exhilarating journey through the subcultures, occupied squats, and late-night scenes in the anarchic first few years of Berlin after the fall of the wall Berlin Calling is a gripping account of the 1989 "peaceful revolution" in East Germany that upended communism and the tumultuous years of artistic ferment, political improvisation, and pirate utopias that followed. It’s the story of a newly undivided Berlin when protest and punk rock, bohemia and direct democracy, techno and free theater were the order of the day. In a story stocked with fascinating characters from Berlin’s highly politicized undergrounds—including playwright Heiner Müller, cult figure Blixa Bargeld of the industrial band Einstürzende Neubauten, the internationally known French Wall artist Thierry Noir, the American multimedia artist Danielle de Picciotto (founder of Love Parade), and David Bowie during his Ziggy Stardust incarnation—Hockenos argues that the DIY energy and raw urban vibe of the early 1990s shaped the new Berlin and still pulses through the city today. Just as Mike Davis captured Los Angeles in his City of Quartz, Berlin Calling is a unique account of how Berlin became hip, and of why it continues to attract creative types from the world over.


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An exhilarating journey through the subcultures, occupied squats, and late-night scenes in the anarchic first few years of Berlin after the fall of the wall Berlin Calling is a gripping account of the 1989 "peaceful revolution" in East Germany that upended communism and the tumultuous years of artistic ferment, political improvisation, and pirate utopias that followed. It’s An exhilarating journey through the subcultures, occupied squats, and late-night scenes in the anarchic first few years of Berlin after the fall of the wall Berlin Calling is a gripping account of the 1989 "peaceful revolution" in East Germany that upended communism and the tumultuous years of artistic ferment, political improvisation, and pirate utopias that followed. It’s the story of a newly undivided Berlin when protest and punk rock, bohemia and direct democracy, techno and free theater were the order of the day. In a story stocked with fascinating characters from Berlin’s highly politicized undergrounds—including playwright Heiner Müller, cult figure Blixa Bargeld of the industrial band Einstürzende Neubauten, the internationally known French Wall artist Thierry Noir, the American multimedia artist Danielle de Picciotto (founder of Love Parade), and David Bowie during his Ziggy Stardust incarnation—Hockenos argues that the DIY energy and raw urban vibe of the early 1990s shaped the new Berlin and still pulses through the city today. Just as Mike Davis captured Los Angeles in his City of Quartz, Berlin Calling is a unique account of how Berlin became hip, and of why it continues to attract creative types from the world over.

30 review for Berlin Calling: A Story of Anarchy, Music, The Wall, and the Birth of the New Berlin

  1. 4 out of 5

    Nicholas Whyte

    https://nwhyte.livejournal.com/3158549.html It's always good when someone you like writes a book you like about a subject you like. Paul Hockenos and I were friends in Bosnia in 1997, where I worked for a democratisation agency and he was a spokesperson for one of the big international NGOs, and we've stayed in touch ever since. (Oddly enough, this review is set to post as I return to Banja Luka for the first time since 2003.) In fact that Balkan interlude was a rather brief phase of his life, wh https://nwhyte.livejournal.com/3158549.html It's always good when someone you like writes a book you like about a subject you like. Paul Hockenos and I were friends in Bosnia in 1997, where I worked for a democratisation agency and he was a spokesperson for one of the big international NGOs, and we've stayed in touch ever since. (Oddly enough, this review is set to post as I return to Banja Luka for the first time since 2003.) In fact that Balkan interlude was a rather brief phase of his life, which as an adult has been mainly spent in Berlin, far from his upstate New York origins. I too love Berlin, though I don't know it as well as he does. My own first visit was to a divided city in 1986; and I went back again after the Fall of the Wall, in 1992. I was last there in June, where I attended a reception on the top floor of the Reichstag building; in 1986 it was dilapidated and still partly burnt out, but now it is the democratic heart of Europe's most important country. The book divides roughly into thirds. The first part tells the story of how the growth of the alternative music scene in West Berlin, from the 1970s to 1989, was facilitated by the peculiarities of West Berlin's governance; if you had a salary, the government boosted it by 11% to encourage you to stay (a rare example of a negative income tax) and the absence of the draft meant that the sorts of young men who didn't want to do military service clustered there. David Bowie was deeply inspired by his three years there from 1976 to 1979, where he collaborated with Brian Eno and Iggy Pop, and loved Romy Haag. People experimented with new ways of living and loving; it was an energetic city living, as it turned out, on borrowed time. The second part tells the story of the links between the alternative music scene in East Berlin, the connection with dilapidated church buildings and the decaying regime's inability to prevent young people from getting together to overthrow it. The vision here is a rather Berlin-centric one (indeed, a rather Friedrichshain-centric one), but that's fair enough given the theme of the book. One point I found striking: John Peel was a hero of the Eastern kids, who taped his shows and acquired his musical tastes. They weren't alone. The wonderful film Good Vibrations chronicles Peel's effect on divided Belfast at the same time. A couple of hundred kilometres to the south, a friend of mine who grew up outside Limerick has written of how liberating Peel's shows were for a teenage girl in early 80s Ireland. When the cultural history of Europe in the late twentieth century is written, I hope that Peel is given his due. And the third part tells the story of the Fall of the Wall, and the disruption to the alternative lifestyles that had grown up on both sides as Germany reunified into a bourgeois bloc, Easterners voting for stability and rapid integration under Helmut Kohl rather than for any more risky alternative. At the same time, the influx of international interest and the very light touch of the last months of East Germany's existence opened up more space for discourse and experimentation. Disturbingly, neo-Nazis grew in numbers, and actually killed one of Paul's friends, the activist Silvio Meier. But time passed. The old hip neighbourhoods became gentrified. People settled down. Berlin is still edgy, vibrant, exciting in a way that no other German city is, but it's not what it was. Well, it's a city that has a lot of past to wear. Even if you don't know much about Berlin or music, it's still a great book.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    I really enjoyed this book. It's quite a quick read (took me less than 24 hours and I did other things in that time!) and read somewhat like an autobiography but not enough to be irritating. The author clearly has a personal connection to the topic, which he explores in a way that simply adds flavor to his research. You may you want to have a basic background of Berlin history or even the punk scene, but you certainly don't have to. It provides a new lens through which to view the pre- and post- I really enjoyed this book. It's quite a quick read (took me less than 24 hours and I did other things in that time!) and read somewhat like an autobiography but not enough to be irritating. The author clearly has a personal connection to the topic, which he explores in a way that simply adds flavor to his research. You may you want to have a basic background of Berlin history or even the punk scene, but you certainly don't have to. It provides a new lens through which to view the pre- and post-Berlin wall era that is a very on the streets, in the squats, accessible narrative.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jes Reaver

    Loved this. Entirely relevant to my interests and current events. It’s not super in depth which makes it an accessible read for someone interested in the topics who might not be a big nonfiction reader. Has a great section on queer culture in 1980s Berlin. Starts to examine how the far right survived after ww2 and the falling of the wall into today, though it would take at least another book or a few volumes to cover that in any depth.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kirsten

    I like Berlin, I like new perspectives on Berlin and new stories.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jessie (Zombie_likes_cake)

    While I definitely was interested in the topic -why else would I have picked this up?- this book falls into a category that non-fiction can sometimes reach for me: this did not not need to be a whole book. It would have been totally fine as a magazine article or an essay. I know, a book sells better but i seriously felt like this was stretched to reach its length of 300 pages. It felt repetitive and I repeatedly had a hard time staying invested. The length was not the only problem there, as a Ge While I definitely was interested in the topic -why else would I have picked this up?- this book falls into a category that non-fiction can sometimes reach for me: this did not not need to be a whole book. It would have been totally fine as a magazine article or an essay. I know, a book sells better but i seriously felt like this was stretched to reach its length of 300 pages. It felt repetitive and I repeatedly had a hard time staying invested. The length was not the only problem there, as a German the history covered in here is very familiar to me and while it makes sense to cover some of it, to me it was detailed on things I already was well informed about. Given, for someone else (the book read as written for an audience that is only on surface level familiar with the events before and after the Mauerfall) this might not be a strike against the book. As it is, "Berlin Calling" is 55% historic background, 40% look at counter culture and 5% personal anecdotes from the author himself. To be a book that would grip me personally, I needed a different balance. I generally don't like history non-fiction and need that aspect to be dialed back to the absolute necessary. I would have loved to see more of a memoir angle to the narration, Hockenos lived in Berlin and Europe during this time in history, and while he shares a lot of interviews he himself is very much hidden in the background. Again, for some readers that is a plus, for me that is a negative because I get more engaged in journalistic works when it has that personal hook going along with the subject presented (and especially in this case, a book that starts to drag could have dragged less with a more personal view point in the middle of things). The counter culture and music element was for sure the highlight, it was what I was here for. Sadly, like I said it felt not as foreground as I wanted it to be and additionally by mentioning the same people and bands I had the feeling to only get a limited look at a wider scene. All this criticism aside, this is an interesting book. Berlin is such a unique place, a place I truly miss living in, a place I was just able to visit again for a few days and walk on some trodden paths again. And I love that someone put the work in to look at his history through this slightly different lens. If you know Berlin you will understand how formative counter culture movements were/ are. And while I wasn't over the moon with the execution I still took some interesting insights away from this, the biggest fun fact the David Bowie's neighbors didn't bother to acknowledge his star status and even failed to pronounce his name correctly and called him Herr Boffie. 2.5*

  6. 4 out of 5

    Barbara Rhine

    I really liked this book, as the rating indicates. Probably the only reason that I didn't give it five stars is that I read more fiction than non-fiction, and this book about Berlin now and both sides of the Wall before 1989 was not always a page turner. But it was always interesting, and I stuck with it. Both sides of the Wall had enough free space that the youthful and rebellious conducted many experiments. Music, politics, communal living, it had enough components of my experience of the Cali I really liked this book, as the rating indicates. Probably the only reason that I didn't give it five stars is that I read more fiction than non-fiction, and this book about Berlin now and both sides of the Wall before 1989 was not always a page turner. But it was always interesting, and I stuck with it. Both sides of the Wall had enough free space that the youthful and rebellious conducted many experiments. Music, politics, communal living, it had enough components of my experience of the California counterculture as a young person to fascinae me. I really wanted to know how all this played out, after the War, the Holocaust, during Communism, after 1989 when the Wall and the GDR fell, and yes, even now. If the subject matter interests you, read this book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Manasvini

    The author narrates several anecdotes from before the fall of the Berlin Wall, all the way up till today, the role of art, music and subculture in inspiring changes, and in shaping space in the city. I breezed through the book in about a week- it's engaging, and at times almost humourous despite the grim times. It's less about history than the experiences of the people around the author, most of whom are creative, so it's mostly not from a neutral perspective, which in itself is very offbeat and The author narrates several anecdotes from before the fall of the Berlin Wall, all the way up till today, the role of art, music and subculture in inspiring changes, and in shaping space in the city. I breezed through the book in about a week- it's engaging, and at times almost humourous despite the grim times. It's less about history than the experiences of the people around the author, most of whom are creative, so it's mostly not from a neutral perspective, which in itself is very offbeat and interesting.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ian

    Quotes & Notes: WEST BERLIN: In Autumn 1985, I was fleeing upstate New York, Reagan-era America, and the pressure to choose a career to Europe's hippest capital. West Berlin's attraction was, in part, the exhilaration of existing on the brink. In far-away West Berlin "nobody gives a shit" about you, something David Bowie noted appreciatively. "There was this incredible feeling of freedom!" my old friend Claudia, a 1980s Berlin transplant from the Ruhr Valley, told me recently in a trendy tapas bar Quotes & Notes: WEST BERLIN: In Autumn 1985, I was fleeing upstate New York, Reagan-era America, and the pressure to choose a career to Europe's hippest capital. West Berlin's attraction was, in part, the exhilaration of existing on the brink. In far-away West Berlin "nobody gives a shit" about you, something David Bowie noted appreciatively. "There was this incredible feeling of freedom!" my old friend Claudia, a 1980s Berlin transplant from the Ruhr Valley, told me recently in a trendy tapas bar along Gorlitzer Park. She admitted this sounds a bit hokey today. In Berlin, squats were art, and art was part of a larger political project. When the Wall crashed on Nov. 9th, 1989, the subcultures of East and West collided in the ruins of eastern Berlin. The east side morphed into a carnivalesque happening: the site of squats, hole-in-the-wall galleries and cafes, and all-night partying. The city was open to anyone with a crowbar and a good idea, among them the progenitors of the trippy techno clubs where kids from East and West bonded in the druggy bliss of the moment. The boundless untended spaces invited improvisation. Squatters reconfigured the relics of industrialism into collective living quarters and art houses. Berlin's early 1990s were aptly dubbed "the wonderful years of anarchy." Because WB was the only metropolis in all of Europe with no closing hour for bars and clubs, partying started late and began to tape off when the U-Bahn restarted. Many of the nightlife's regulars couldn't name to their circle a single indigenous Berliner or regularly employed burgher. And they were proud of it. The suit-and-tie class barely existed in WB, which is exactly why so many individualists had chosen self-imposed exile in WB in the first place. "This was a great thing about WB. All the assholes left for West Germany." Berlin's proletariat was another story: alien but tolerable. It was unthinkable that any of its workaday types would show up at the dives of the scene dwellers, bars such as Risiko, the punk club SO36, or one of the squat's makeshift cafes. Likewise, no one from the cool crowd would dream of drinking a beer with a salty Berlin worker in an old-fashioned corner Eckkneipe. "We had our own geography," says Fetisch, a former WB DJ. "We navigated WB like it was a jungle. This was our own parallel Berlin. We didn't even acknowledge the presence of most of the things or the people around us. We blended them out." When the Wall did come crashing down, many of the artists and hipsters reacted much differently than did indigenous Berliners, and hipsters reacted much differently than did indigenous Berliners, the natives living on both sides of the city. The habitues of Kreuzberg—a WB district abutting the Wall, bastion of radicalism and DIY lifestyles—weren't popping bottles of warm champagne and hugging giddy East Germans. Nov. 9, 1989 was the day their little bubble burst and, once they comprehended the implications, they wept tears of sorrow—not joy. When the East German checkpoints at the Wall were abandoned, our free travel passes expired, as did the social benefits, wage supports, duty-free alcohol, low rents, and array of other freebies that made our lives comfortable and, more critically, provided the artistically minded with the free time, the space, and the means to pursue the ventures that defined 1980s WB. For another friend, Claudia, Ruhr Valley emigre and proud Kreuzberger, it meant that swarms of badly dressed East Germans would muddy the cutting-edge chic of her funky neighborhood, pressed as it was up against the Wall. She and her clique had run away from the hidebound West Germans only now to be confronted with a deluge of their eastern counterparts (who were, as it turned out, in many ways squarer and certainly less PC than their western cousins). Soon, the days would be gone when she could prop up a chair against the Wall and sunbathe nude on a grassy patch along the Landweherkanal. Her bf Richard had greater cause for concern. The West German authorities were coming after him and thousands of other men who had holed up in WB to duck military service. Situationist proverb: "Never Work!" "All Power to the Imagination." "Never again would I feel so free as I did in Berlin," Bowie said many years later. Kruezberg's diversity was a source of pride to its inhabitants, even if they didn't have much to do with one another beyond polite nods in the stairwells. "Art needs time," Wolfgang Muller told me. "Berlin gave you that, if you were willing to live in its conditions." If you wanted to, you could shut out [the tyranny of East Berlin] and live in the deluxe ghetto of WB as if the world beyond the Wall didn't matter. Everyone stressed that the scene saw money as antithetical to innovation and originality. Commercialism, they believed, corrupted art. And why waste time pursuing money when you didn't need it in WB anyway? "Before punk we'd wait around, say, for Foucault's next book, to see what he said before doing something," she told me. "Punk said, 'Do it yourself, anyone can. It doesn't have to be perfect.'" Punk's cry of "no future" fit WB even better than it did the UK. Cocktails instead of just beer, costumes instead of jeans, speed instead of grass, neon instead of candlelight. The subcultural niches in WB were deep and narrow, largely off limits to voyeurs and wannabes. Extreme rudeness was in vogue—another punk signature that fit Berlin like a glove. In the Neubauten's songs cities are in flames, hyenas roam the streets, corpses dance, and souls rot. "Better to Squat and Restore Than Own and Destroy." "Everyone in Berlin said they were an artist, a musician, or a designer," he says. So, when asked what he did in Berlin, the soft-spoken Frenchman responded, "I'm an artist," even though he hadn't produced a piece of art in his life. "You had to be creative to keep your sanity." [Put the wall up again, this time around the whole city. Stop the hype. Slash the rent. Bring back autonomy. Where in the world can one find a temporarily bohemian zone anymore? Don't say digitally. Don't say Burning Man. Don't say Berlin, Portland, Detroit, let alone Paris, New York, London. This concept seems to have been stripped from the world in favor of all the more control, ever-present gentrification—that much of the time feeds on hype, not true autonomy. We live in an era of a copy of a copy of a shadow, a simulated history that has no room to breathe new life into anything. Golden Ages of bohemia seem to be a thing of the past. "Cool cities" are never cool. "Smart cities" are ignorant of real human desire. "Hip bars" are places to remain shallowly unhip. Trends and viral memes and self-marketing for all in a dismal screen called the simulation of the world.] EAST BERLIN: There wasn't a punk in 80s East Germany who hadn't been subjected to interrogation, a hectoring lecture full of threats, and usually a bruising for good measure. Speiche calculates that he was detained nearly three hundred times during the course of the late 70s and 80s. One time they hauled him in, pinned him down, and shaved off his red-and-white mohawk. As far as Schilling was concerned, if atheists proved better allies than fellow Christians in taking on the regime, then so be it. Their lot weren't bookworms or armchair theorists. Aktionismus was their thing—direct action. THE NEW BERLIN: At one in the morning [after Wall had been opened], Lippok and his relatives returned to the Wall where the revelry was in full swing. "It was like everybody was on drugs. The vibes were super strange," he remembers. "The GDR border guards, the biggest bastards ever, were waving and smiling. It was like everyone was on ecstasy." For Bey, the TAZ is "a microcosm of that anarchist dream of a free culture." "In the West, they're smarter. Money is the Wall." —Banner in Mainzer Strasse, 1990 [Perhaps the Christian God is an individualist anarchist after all, even though for so long so many people have wanted him to be an authoritarian communist.] The transformation of Berlin's electronic music scene from underground to establishment poses the questions eventually asked about all subcultures that attract the masses: When do commodification and mainstream appeal strip away everything that was subcultural about them? To what degree is turning a profit anathema to outside-the-box creativity and cool? Subcultures by definition are not for everybody. They lie beyond mainstream taste and morality—and as such expose the status quo's narrowness. It is the eccentricity of the margins that makes their products original and subversive. When their environs become so safe that the next-door neighbor and the postman feel comfortable there too, it's not fringe anymore. Counterculture rebels against the Normalburger precisely because they lack the imagination to undertake anything qualitatively new. Once accepted by society, the scenes become unable to reinvent themselves, to explore new terrain that might offend patrons. Advocates of the TAZ claim that the nature of truly radical, idiosyncratic projects is transient. A 12 min trip by S-Bahn from Alexanderplatz, the old working-class district of Schoneweide has disused industrial warehouses and long-shuttered red-brick factories that now house four hundred artists—with room to spare. A sunny three-room apartment in Marzahn, Hellersdorf, or Hohenschonhausen goes for about $500 a month. Street Artist Blu: Gentrification in Berlin lately doesn't content itself with destroying creative spaces. Because it needs its artistic brand to remain attractive, it tends to artificially reanimate the creativity it has displaced, thus producing an "undead city." This zombification is threatening to turn Berlin into a museal city of veneers, the "art scene" preserved as an amusement park for those who can afford the rising rents. 50 seniors squatted their senior center in 2012 to save themselves from eviction. "Can Detroit Be Berlin?" Berlin's urban culture has persevered though far worse than gentrification and mass tourism. Berlin, drawing on its past, still has the power to reinvent itself, she says.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Roger Irish

    A book I chose to read owing to a planned (now past) visit to Berlin. I was attracted to it because its focus seemed to be on music, culture/counterculture and the modern history of Berlin pre-and post-wall. Apart from having friends living in Berlin, one of Berlin's attractions for me is its music associations, from 'krautrock', Bowie, Iggy Pop, Nick Cave, and Einsturzende Neubauten to the techno/electronic dance music of more recent years. ...and on now to the book. It's an enjoyable book which A book I chose to read owing to a planned (now past) visit to Berlin. I was attracted to it because its focus seemed to be on music, culture/counterculture and the modern history of Berlin pre-and post-wall. Apart from having friends living in Berlin, one of Berlin's attractions for me is its music associations, from 'krautrock', Bowie, Iggy Pop, Nick Cave, and Einsturzende Neubauten to the techno/electronic dance music of more recent years. ...and on now to the book. It's an enjoyable book which benefits from the author having lived in Berlin, before and after the wall. It gives a great sense of what it was like to live there and what the attractions of Berlin were (and are). There's a real sense of being in amongst history being made. The sections which cover the wall and East Germany (as was), the fall of the wall and reunification are especially interesting and evocative. If music is your main interest then you should note that though is a fair bit on music, there are better books dedicated to the subject. Nevertheless the book does a good job of placing music in the context of the cultural life (and counter-cultural life) of the city. My only niggle, and it's a slight one, is that the author being an American, occasionally lapses into American-speak and makes the odd reference which means nothing unless you are American. In general this didn't get in the way of enjoying the book. I've only given it three stars, which may be harsh, as I did consider giving it four, but decided that I was left with a vague sense that it had covered so much ground that perhaps some aspects of the modern history had been glossed over. Only reading other books on the history of Berlin will answer that. Overall the mix of history, politics, music, culture and art was something I was looking for and, having visited Berlin, found much that I recognised and was further brought to life. If you are thinking of visiting Berlin and have an interest in art and culture, you could do worse than start here.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    Fantastic book - A thorough exploration of counter-culture in Berlin from the 60s to the 90s. The American writer has clearly been deeply involved in a range of sub-cultures which inspired him to write this book. His account of the political, economic and social backgrounds in both West Berlin, East Berlin and "New" Berlin is easy to read, clear and remains relevant to the primary topic of the book: underground music culture. Hockenos gives a brilliant account of the nonconformist cultures which Fantastic book - A thorough exploration of counter-culture in Berlin from the 60s to the 90s. The American writer has clearly been deeply involved in a range of sub-cultures which inspired him to write this book. His account of the political, economic and social backgrounds in both West Berlin, East Berlin and "New" Berlin is easy to read, clear and remains relevant to the primary topic of the book: underground music culture. Hockenos gives a brilliant account of the nonconformist cultures which were constantly changing with the times. He describes the most significant movements, people and events within counter-culture.. generally from the inside-out. There is some flaws. I think Hockenos could have given more attention to the techno scene in Berlin while it was at it's peak. I feel like he instead moved onto it's commercialisation and transformation into a tourist attraction far too quickly. This may reflect the reality of the short-lived scene, but I really was hoping for a more in depth representation of the party and drugs culture. This segment of the book I feel was overly-economic and not as personal as the punk rock sections. The book does acknowledge influence of drugs on counter-culture, however I did feel it was slightly understated during the techno section. I was disappointed with the "Berlin Today" ending. I feel like he could have explored today's Berlin's underground music scene in much more depth instead of just discussing what the key figures of the 70s/80s are up to now. There is plenty of recently formed Berlin hardcore punk and techno DJs which could have been mentioned. Instead it was all a focus on how things aren't like the past. With all this in mind I'd still continue to give it 5 stars. It covered such a range of topics which I'm so interested in yet cannot find much reading material on so well. This book is just full of so many truly fascinated stories which I won't spoil.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Tirza de F

    An exhilarating and thought-provoking of how the counterculture of both West ánd East Berlin were driving forces to create the city it has become today. As someone who studied Berlins history and some of its subcultures extensively (hello, Russendisko! Good to see you make an appearance, too), the tale Paul Hockenos tells was surprisingly fresh and new to me. But perhaps more than the history itself, it is the greater lesson that resonates. Cities need their fringes and free spaces to let creativ An exhilarating and thought-provoking of how the counterculture of both West ánd East Berlin were driving forces to create the city it has become today. As someone who studied Berlins history and some of its subcultures extensively (hello, Russendisko! Good to see you make an appearance, too), the tale Paul Hockenos tells was surprisingly fresh and new to me. But perhaps more than the history itself, it is the greater lesson that resonates. Cities need their fringes and free spaces to let creativity roam and stay alive and livable for generations to come. And those fringes and free spaces are ever harder to come by, not just in Berlin but in many places in the world, my own Amsterdam included. As we face a crisis in the arts of inmense proportions, both due to COVID and to structural underfunding, i will take this lesson to heart. We need to reshape our cities, and artists have a vital role to play in that task.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jan Goericke

    I moved to Berlin age 20 in 1991 and lived in Mitte and Friedrichshain studying at the TU Berlin in Tiergarten. This book made me homesick to the funnest place I have ever lived. Although I remember the peaceful revolution slightly differently, I was transported back to the time where we East Germans lived an adventure every day. Great book!! Highly recommended!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Benjamin

    If you want to get a good collection of connected stories about Berlin giving you a palpable feel for the texture of daily life in the city while it was divided and shortly after it was unified (palpable -- I can't tell you if the feel from the book is __accurate__ as I am neither Berliner nor Deutsch, nor have I been), this is a very good book for you to read. If you want to get a good collection of connected stories about Berlin giving you a palpable feel for the texture of daily life in the city while it was divided and shortly after it was unified (palpable -- I can't tell you if the feel from the book is __accurate__ as I am neither Berliner nor Deutsch, nor have I been), this is a very good book for you to read.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Laurie

    This was the Berlin I knew in the 1980s, except that I was too uncool to understand most of what I was seeing. An interesting companion-read to A. Ostrovsky's The Invention of Russia, which I also just finished. This was the Berlin I knew in the 1980s, except that I was too uncool to understand most of what I was seeing. An interesting companion-read to A. Ostrovsky's The Invention of Russia, which I also just finished.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Martin Dubeci

    Dobré čítanie pred výletom do Berlína. Prístupne napísané dejiny subkultúr od 60s po dnes. Veľmi zaujímavé vidieť aký efekt môže mať to bublanie pod povrchom a špeciálne okolnosti na celkový duch mesta a jeho dnešný mainstream.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Meaghan

    I found parts of this absolutely fascinating and other parts a bit dull; this is because of my own interests and not the quality of the writing. I didn't know anything, really, about Berlin during the Wall period, and overall as a subject it's very interesting. I found parts of this absolutely fascinating and other parts a bit dull; this is because of my own interests and not the quality of the writing. I didn't know anything, really, about Berlin during the Wall period, and overall as a subject it's very interesting.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Mark Savic

    Interesting timeline of Berlin past, present and future. May feel outdated due to Berlin's fast pace of change but major themes stand true. Interesting timeline of Berlin past, present and future. May feel outdated due to Berlin's fast pace of change but major themes stand true.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Fernando

    I'm a big fan of Berlin and it's history so this book was like gold dust for me. Really insightfull and helps the reader to understand what makes berlin so unique and rare but still amazing. I'm a big fan of Berlin and it's history so this book was like gold dust for me. Really insightfull and helps the reader to understand what makes berlin so unique and rare but still amazing.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Seifert

    This Book gives a great overview of the Temporary Autonomous Zone of 90ies-Berlin. "Berlin Calling", Tom Mohr's "Burning Down the Haus" and the two autobiographies Danielle de Piciottos "The Beauty of Transgression" and Noel Maurice "The Berlin Diaries", are the most important English Language Books on this extraordinary time-period in Berlin. But Hockenos timeline starts earlier than that way back in the 80ies and tells the story how Berlin today, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the special vibe This Book gives a great overview of the Temporary Autonomous Zone of 90ies-Berlin. "Berlin Calling", Tom Mohr's "Burning Down the Haus" and the two autobiographies Danielle de Piciottos "The Beauty of Transgression" and Noel Maurice "The Berlin Diaries", are the most important English Language Books on this extraordinary time-period in Berlin. But Hockenos timeline starts earlier than that way back in the 80ies and tells the story how Berlin today, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the special vibe of Berlin is the legacy of punk.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Erin Murrock

  21. 5 out of 5

    John Kilvington

  22. 5 out of 5

    Brett

  23. 4 out of 5

    Laura Avent

  24. 5 out of 5

    Susan

  25. 4 out of 5

    Welt

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ben

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mikko Nieminen

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

  29. 4 out of 5

    Alexis Mattison

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lauren Rever

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