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4.5 out of 5 stars
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4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 12 May 2012
Roger Moorhouse's premise for writing Berlin at War was that much has been written about the Nazi Party, leading figures, the German armed forces, various campaigns and theatres of war, and the Holocaust, but little has been written about the lives of ordinary Germans during the war. In Berlin at War he seeks to rectify this by using documentary evidence and war diaries to examine the lives of Berliners, and those living in the city such as diplomats, journalists and forced labourers, during the conflict. Rather than chart a straight chronological history, Moorhouse instead focuses on key themes such as rationing and sourcing food, architecture, bombings and taking shelter, entertainment, propaganda, evacuation, Jewish deportations, forced labour, regulations, governance and policing, resistance, public mood, and armed conflict. The result is a somewhat dry, but fascinating account of life in the German capital. Somewhat ironically, for a book that is meant to focus on the everyday lives of Berliners, the book starts by describing a Nazi parade for Hitler's birthday in April 1939, rather than the mundanity of work or home life or leisure. The reliance on diaries and written testament, rather than interviews, is partially responsible I think for the quite detached tone, and it took me a little while to get into the book. By about a hundred pages in though I was hooked and Moorhouse does an admirable job of discussing a range of different issues to build up a reasonably comprehensive overview of everyday life. Not the most compelling book on the Second War World, and does not significantly extend accounts by William Shirer and Anthony Beevor or indeed the novels of Philip Kerr and Hans Falada, but an interesting read nonetheless.
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on 26 April 2017
The book arrived quickly and in good condition. In my opinion it is a compelling read as it tells how the Berlin public dealt with the war so that we can compare it with how the English coped. Well worth a read.
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on 30 April 2017
Terrible end for the many trapped in a dictatorship.
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on 4 August 2010
An extensively researched and sympathetically written account of life in Berlin during WWII.
Firstly, the detail and the way Moorhouse structures and themes his book makes Berlin at War a superior read. There is both narrative and argument in each of the well measured chapters.
Colour is also added through the variety of voices Moorhouse has captured - German, Jewish, foreign correspondents - to create an original and unmatched portrait of a city which was a victim of the Third Reich, as well as its capital. Highly recommended.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 23 August 2010
I love my history which is why I adored Berlin at War. This book works on all levels - be they social history, military history or just the plain odd. The book is rammed full of interesting little snippets of info - such as the explosion of halitosis in Berlin, the rations Berliners ate and the grey atmosphere of the city as a whole. Moorhouse, rather than condemning or ranting at Berliners, merely shows the reader what it was like - living on the doorstep of a fascist dictatorship and yet still having normal feelings of love, hate and fear. For me it made Hans Falladas book Alone in Berlin (Penguin Modern Classics) even more poignant. A great literary work of art.
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on 3 August 2010
Roger Moorhouse's latest book, Berlin at War, is a fascinating new look at what life was like for the citizens of Germany during the Second World War. Unusually, rather than focussing on the devastation inflicted on the allied countries, or the horrendous actions of the holocaust, Moorhouse has here examined the suffering experienced by the everyday German people living in Berlin during the war. Some of the experiences are tragic and heartbreaking, some are downright horrific. For me, having studied history at school and been interested in the events of World War Two on an amateur level, I was startled to think how little we question what the Germans experienced, so caught up are we in the sufferings of the persecuted Jews and the war-ravaged allied cities. In fact, they are more often than not bundled into a box with the leaders of the Third Reich and labelled "the enemy" in our minds. This book is a much needed documentary of the experiences of war time Berliners. It forces the reader to reassess our attitude of what we constitute as `the Germans' in World War Two.
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on 17 August 2011
Berlin at War is a well researched and sympathetically written account of what life was like for ordinary Berliners during WWII. Our perspectives and prejudices are sometimes challenged, sometimes reinforced - yet the book always engages.
Although the author has conducted a number of new interviews Berlin at War is by no means just a "voices from" History book - it is far more subtle and elegant in its narrative and arguments.
Obviously this is a must read for anyone interested in WWII, but such is this book's scope and humanity that I hope it reaches a wider audience.
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on 21 May 2017
Interesting book, well written.
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on 7 July 2012
I purchased this book because I had written memoirs of family members on my wife's side who lived in Berlin throughout the war.

What Roger Moorhouse has done is to give us a vivid and readable account of everyday life in the city at the time, alongside the broader trends.

For me, it was particularly rewarding to be told of the surprisingly low support in general for the Nazi regime in the city's elections. My wife's grandmother, writing from Berlin was ever at odds with it. The account in pages 271ff is particularly helpful in describing the way in which Berliners adapted to a regime which so few of them seem to have supported electorally.

On a more general canvas, this underlines the way in which the Nazi regime, with its SS and secret police was a "state within a state."

For anyone keen to understand this era, Roger Moorhouse has given us a readable and informative book, useful for every serious student.

Ted Baty
(The Reverend Doctor Edward Baty IMM)

PS I bought this Amazon at quite a discount, which made the purchase very worthwhile!
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This is a truly first rate book and I find myself in complete agreement with the cover comments of Antony Beevor and Andrew Roberts who both praise it highly.
Moorhouse brings to what could be a hackneyed topic a crisp factual style and impressive research to provide information about the situation in Berlin during the war that will probably be new to most readers. The book is roughly chronological but where it makes more sense to move forward through a number of years in a specific subject chapter Moorhouse does this. For example, the author deals with rationing and the availability of food in the German capital and shows that shortages were experienced at an earlier stage than might be expected and that most people were reliant upon the black market in order to survive by the middle war years.
The early years of German success and the excitement of the glittering parades and upsurge of enthusiasm and pride are brilliantly portrayed. The chapter on forced labour is a revelation. The use of labour from western and eastern Europe is described and the vast spectrum of experiences by various labourers revealed. The ubiquity of such labour in the capital was something that surprised me. The sections on the air raids, almost entirely from the RAF until the last year of the war, are quite excellent. Moorhouse's powers of description are impressive and he is able to invoke the sheer horror of the experiences extremely well. Despite relying on the stories of many different people the book never becomes a `cut and paste' list of extracts and is wonderfully coherent.
A book of the highest quality that will surely bear comparison with some of the outstanding books on the war that have appeared in the last ten years.
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