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4.2 out of 5 stars29
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 5 December 2000
I bought this book to give me a "feel" of Germany, and especially Berlin in the period before the Second World War. The reason - I'm to direct the musical "Cabaret" early in 2001. I found that Isherwood's simple style of storytelling with no pretentious nonsense is truely a pleasure to read. The stories are told from the point of view of an observer - even though he is involved in them - very dispasionately. The effect is gripping as the characters are so accurately drawn. Berlin before the war is evoked so well, you would think you had been there. Thoroughly recomended for those interested in the time or those who like good stories told well.
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on 8 March 2010
Having been brainwashed by Nazi propaganda films for what seems like forever this book was a totally refreshing look at the real life of everyday Germans prior to the descent into the madness of the Hitler era. Isherwood's writing is precise and never superfluous. It feels as though the characters are as alive today as they were all those years ago. I can never watch 'Cabaret' again without thinking of Isherwood's Sally Bowles. For once Hollywood almost got it right. This is one book I would definitely delve into again.
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on 15 October 2013
Of course I have seen 'Cabaret' and it is a great movie but what it cannot do is what its inspiration does: create some credible, subtle and memorable characters and evoke an atmosphere of pre-war Berlin which is at once seductive and repellent. Isherwood was witness to the rise of Hitler and this book brings out the poverty and hopelessness (and helplessness) of many Germans, and the sense of gloom and impending chaos, which assisted the ascent of Nazism. I had also not appreciated how early on the systematic murder of Jewish Germans began. The book shows the seductive side of Berlin and its more chilling aspects, among the latter being the sense of security rooted in disbelief among the very people whose lives were soon to be destroyed.
The writing is spare but vivid.
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on 2 February 2015
Interesting book it contains two books, Mr Norris changes train and Goodbye Berlin.
Personally I prefered Mr Norris changes Trains, it had more of a plot, and drew you into the last years of the pre-Hitler germany,as Berlin is starting to dive into a dark place. The centre character is Bradshaw, a young englishman abroad, who flirts with the Communist party, drawn in by Mr Norris.
Its well worth the read.
Goodbye Berlin is alike a series of small novels, made into the play "I am a camera" and the film and musical Cabaret. I just found it a little bitty and Sally Bowles is not a character that I could warm too.
But it certainly an intersting read
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on 24 July 2013
Having recently stayed in (mainly 'East') Berlin I was interested in reading some 'modern' historical fiction. These novels are set during the rise of the Nazis. They don't provide as much detail as, say 'Alone in Berlin', but there are many incidental references that hint at the flavour of the times. There is little description of the environment, beyond the rooms the characters occupy, and no great drama/thriller plots - but the skill of the writing carries you easily through the pages.
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on 5 April 2013
Highly recommended, wonderfully written and a fascinating insight into the Berlin of the times - cosmopolitan, seedy, sad and frightening.
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on 8 December 2013
Wonderful book. If you saw Cabaret, read the book,it's superb - even better than the film- and that was good!
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on 30 November 2015
Goodbye to Berlin comprises of several interconnected vignettes about Berlin during the war. The characters range from very poor, to very rich, and from native German to Jewish. However it remains curiously detached, and, in a way, rather naive and prudish. There is no feeling for the times, and I could not decide whether this was because the author was young, naive and prudish (I suspect not naive!) or whether it was because of how the book would be accepted in the UK. Mr Norris Changes Trains is a very entertaining narrative about someone who, at first meeting, can be felt to be ordinary, but after numerous twists and turns, turns out to be anything but.
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on 16 April 2016
A very books and short stories of the Berlin Novels. Christopher Isherwood writes fiction of the time he spent in Berlin. The time of the prewar the the politics of Germany and crime and poverty.
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on 10 July 2014
I got these books to coincide with a visit to Berlin and I found they gave me a really good insight into the period just before the second world war. I was surprised by how funny they were.
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