The Best Books On Berlin

The Books I Picked & Why

Berlin Alexanderplatz

By Alfred Doblin

Berlin Alexanderplatz

Why this book?

Berlin is a city that is forever in the process of becoming, never being, and so lives powerfully in the imagination. Döblin's breathlessly innovative 1929 masterpiece — the most important work of literature in the Weimar years, is as hypnotic and unpredictable as the city itself.


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Mephisto

By Klaus Mann

Mephisto

Why this book?

Berlin aches with absences as much as its brazen presence: the sense of lives lived, dreams realized and evils executed with an intensity so shocking that they rent the air and shook its fabric. In Mephisto, a vain and ruthless second-rate theatre actor becomes a national star by aligning himself with the Nazis. Haunting.


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The Spy Who Came in from the Cold

By John Le Carré

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold

Why this book?

John le Carré's first sight of the Berlin Wall filled him with disgust and outrage, inspiring him to write his seminal book in five weeks, freezing in time a place both perilous and clandestine. The Wall changed his life, among millions of others…and led to me becoming a writer.


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Russian Disco

By Wladimir Kaminer

Russian Disco

Why this book?

In 1989 when the Wall fell, Kaminer moved from Moscow to Berlin in a lucky wave of emigration. Russian Disco catches the euphoria and vodka-fueled madness of a city adrift in the flux of reunification with contract killer on the trams, black marketeers in sushi bars and artists dreaming of success as another week passes them by in non-stop, techno clubs.


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Alone in Berlin

By Hans Fallada

Alone in Berlin

Why this book?

A moral question that lies at the heart of my fascination with the city and Germany. How would I – and you -- have measured up under Nazis or Communists? Would we have resisted the dictators, or cheered them as we marched off to war? 'Alone in Berlin' tries to answer the question.


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