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Before the Deluge: Portrait of Berlin in the 1920s, a Paperback – 1 Feb 1996


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Product details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (1 Feb 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060926791
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060926793
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.7 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 308,768 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Rob Kitchin TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 12 Aug 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Before the Deluge is a social history of Berlin during the Weimar Republic from 1919 to 1933, covering traditional politics, economics, social conditions, cultural politics, the arts, and the lives of ordinary Berliners and the movers and shakers. It's rich, dense, insightful, and full of interesting commentary and anecdotes based on the author's experiences, documentary research, and interviews with key actors still alive in the late 1960s. Rapidly expanding in population size, Berlin during the 1920s was a city of turbulent and vibrant change - governments coming and going; unions and the army vying for power; communists, socialists and fascists fighting running battles, assassinating rivals, and waging propaganda wars; the currency crashing to worthlessness followed by an economic boom and then another crash; cabaret, theatre, movies and music flourishing; social order becoming liberalised with widespread naturism and promiscuity at the same time that anti-semitism grows steadily; crime, prostitution and drug taking becoming rife; and the intellectual elite in psychoanalysis, physics, architecture and other disciplines flocking to the city.

What Friedrich's book makes very clear is that there was nothing predestined about the rise of Nazism and the collapse of the Weimar Republic. It was the culmination of a complex set of contingent, relational process, not some teleological inevitability, and in Berlin the National Socialists never received more than 25 percent of the vote despite Goebbels best efforts (nor more than 44 percent nationally). Criminals have always found a route to political power. Usually it is through some kind of coup. Hitler tried this in the earlier 1920s and failed. Where he succeeded was through the democratic process.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Piffle on 30 Mar 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After reading various political books about this fascinating period in German (and world history) I found this view of the cultural life of Berlin fascinating. As far as possible, Berlin certainly creates its own atmosphere, liveliness, cynicism, laughter and revolution outside the accepted mainstream. Perhaps the overall atmosphere is conveyed more digestibly to the general reader (that's me) via the novels of Christopher Isherwood, but this this book is still excellent and revealing.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth Gill on 28 May 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
After reading numerous histories of the Weimar Republic, reading this book I was cheering - yes! This is what I have been looking for! It contains all of the information - in many cases, more accurate and more detailed than other sources - and is told in an excellent journalistic, even storytelling style that makes the events compelling and immediate. Though it was written in 1972 it's still the first book I would recommend anyone to read about the period.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 30 April 1998
Format: Paperback
Before the Deluge is a wonderful, compelling social history of Berlin between the wars. It explores the fascinating social, cultural, and scientific developments in Berlin as the political drama of Nazism plays out in the background. In these pages you will meet some of the 20th century's greatest politicians, artists, filmmakers, scientists, etc. who meet in the crossroads of Central Europe. Where else can you get Karajan, Einstein, Isherwood, Hitler, Weil, Garbo, and Lang in the same book........And, if you like this book, also try Olympia: Paris in the Age of Manet or City of Nets: A Portrait of Hollywood in the 1940's - both by Friedrich: both of them are equally good.
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