I would like to start by saying that the two reviewers rating the book as 2* appear to have missed the point and that if you are going to advise reading other works then please recommend?
I have read extensively about the DDR and Berlin (I live in Berlin 4mths of each year), however, this book has been a revelation in that it provides a balance between so many works influenced and seeming to maintain Western propaganda about the plight and desperate conditions of the people living in East Germany and a 'reality' observed by an articulate ex-resident.
Oliver Fritz chooses a style of writing, which makes it easy to read as a continuous narrative or dip-in to one of the titled elements, which have an essay type quality.
His use of data as a means of comparison is both novel and revealing; take away the Stasi element and there is something very appealing about the security provided by a system that placed the ordinary people first. The whole work floats on a layer of topical jokes, which not only make you smile but based on the premise 'that many a true word spoken in jest' confirms both Fritz's data and observation.
It will not prepare you for a visit to Berlin, however, if you do go to the city and visit the eastern areas 'as was' and want to gain an insight into another time made mythical via East and West propaganda then this book is a 'must read'
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