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

4.3 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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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: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 275,179 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"What a story...in a class with the best of Barbara Tuchman....He has written a splendid book."--Wolf Von Eckhardt, "Washington Post""It is Otto Friedrich's grasp of dramatic unity which makes this such a vividly exciting and suggestive book....we are able to see not only the tragic events but also the rich and varied life."--Stephen Spender, "Life"""Before the Deluge" recaptures in an eerie but only too authentic manner the tawdry, dangerous, and undeniably exciting story of the sickness which overcame Germany in the '20s....No place in the world was so creative and decadent, so despairing and exhilarating....What "Cabaret" did in musical form Friedrich has captured here."--Harrison Salisbury"A fascinating portrait of a city where art and riot flourished side by side and incredibility was the normal state of things."--"Atlantic Monthly"

About the Author

Otto Friedrich (1929-1995) was a journalist and cultural historian. A contributing editor at The Saturday Evening Post and Time magazine, he was the author of fourteen books, including Before the Deluge: A Portrait of Berlin in the 1920s.


Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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Format: 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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