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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars fascinating social history of Berlin during the Weimar Republic from 1919 to 1933
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...
Published on 12 Aug 2012 by Rob Kitchin

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars An exciting period of history but not very well written
This book covers an important, exciting and dramatic period of European history. However, although the book is detailed and obviously well researched, I don't feel that it is particularly well written. Given a subject matter that includes characters as diverse as Einstein, Dietrich, Gropius, Peter Lorre, Bertolt Brecht and many others I was expecting to be really gripped...
Published on 29 Sep 2011 by Miss K. Fletcher


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars fascinating social history of Berlin during the Weimar Republic from 1919 to 1933, 12 Aug 2012
By 
Rob Kitchin - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Before the Deluge: Portrait of Berlin in the 1920s, a (Paperback)
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. Ultimately ordinary, innocent people voted criminal minds into office thus ensuring the end of democracy and the descent into megalomaniacal nationalism. What that has tended to do is blind us to the fact that Germany was a cauldron of competing ideologies through the whole period of the Third Reich - we fall into the trap of seeing Germans at that time as a monolithic nation of fanatical fascists. And that's what is so refreshing about Philip Kerr's novels - Gunther is an anti-Nazi cop trying to get by in a corrupt regime. If you want to get a sense of Germany in the 1920s and the path to fascist power, then Friedrich's book is a great place to start.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Berlin for your hopes and dreams, 30 Mar 2010
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Piffle (Gloucestershire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Before the Deluge: Portrait of Berlin in the 1920s, a (Paperback)
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book on the period that I've found, 28 May 2013
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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
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read for Those Interested in German History, 30 April 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Before the Deluge: Portrait of Berlin in the 1920s, a (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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars An exciting period of history but not very well written, 29 Sep 2011
By 
Miss K. Fletcher "K. Fletcher" (Ware, Herts) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Before the Deluge: Portrait of Berlin in the 1920s, a (Paperback)
This book covers an important, exciting and dramatic period of European history. However, although the book is detailed and obviously well researched, I don't feel that it is particularly well written. Given a subject matter that includes characters as diverse as Einstein, Dietrich, Gropius, Peter Lorre, Bertolt Brecht and many others I was expecting to be really gripped. Somehow the author just doesn't bring it to life. On the cover there's a quote from Life magazine's review saying that this is a 'vividly exciting and suggestive book'. I can't help feeling that review must have been reading a different book!
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy it, read it, learn from it, 28 Jan 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Before the Deluge: Portrait of Berlin in the 1920s, a (Paperback)
I borrowed this book from a friend. Now I am buying it. This is one of the few history books which can grab your emotion and takes it on a roller coaster ride. Even though I know how it is going to turn out, somehow I hoped for a different ending throughout the book. You are taken on a journey to pre-WWII Germany and find out the social context which gave birth to the Nazi movement. The trauma of WWI gave rise to undirected violence. That trauma also gave birth to the Dada movement. That same trauma is also expressed in the younger generation who grew up to be SS storm troopers and caretakers of the death camps. The same thing might happen anywhere, anywhen in the world. That is the sobering part.
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4.0 out of 5 stars If only there were more books like this., 19 Nov 2013
By 
Christopher H (Keilor, Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Before the Deluge: Portrait of Berlin in the 1920s, a (Paperback)
You need to grasp the structure of Friedrich's tale to understand his book. Each of his chapters takes a single year, beginning with 1918 (with the Kaiser's abdication) and working through to conclude with 1933 (with Hitler rolling the government).

These individual chapters are themselves organised to start, and later finish, with an overview of political events in Berlin during the nominated year. This political history is then used as a framing device, because the substance of each chapter is to explore some aspect of Berlin's social and cultural story during that turbulent 15 year period.

One chapter will discuss physics and the work of Einstein and his circle. Another will delve into the ideas of George Grotz and the dada group. Another again explores modernist architecture, then there is music and the Schoenberg revolution, a chapter on the experimental theatre and the Brecht generation, on The Cabinet of Dr.Caligari and German silent film, later still on The Blue Angel and sound film, on Josephine Baker and cabaret, as well as the Wandervogel movement, and so forth.

Along the way Friedrich gives fascinating profiles of leading figures in culture and politics, a diverse and fascinating mix which includes Marlene Dietrich, Walter Gropius, Josef Goebbels and Bertold Brecht. These vignettes often mix first hand accounts offered by people the author interviewed (the quotes are most illuminating). And the first chapter is hilarious, with the Kaiser and various ineffectual members of the government running around like characters in a screwball comedy.

Some readers may find certain sections slow going (many would be lost in the discussion of Heisenberg's uncertainty principle and Planck's constant), but overall the book is well paced, stimulating, and a lively read. And the gradual rise to power of the Nazis is clearly handled.

If only there were more books like this. (I rate it as 4 1/2 stars)
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Before the Deluge: Portrait of Berlin in the 1920s, a
Before the Deluge: Portrait of Berlin in the 1920s, a by Otto Friedrich (Paperback - 1 Feb 1996)
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