Berlin Journal, 1989-1990

Robert Darnton, Author W. W. Norton & Company $22.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-393-02970-3
A scholar of the French Revolution, Darnton ( The Kiss of Lamourette: Reflections in Cultural History ) spent the 1989-1990 academic year in Berlin, where he witnessed the popular uprising in the East that transformed both Germanies. His essays here include firsthand reports of historic events (public demonstrations, the Berlin Wall's crumbling) and consider both cultural differences and the move to unite Germany. His observations of various Ossis (East Germans)--including artists and political outcasts on a pub crawl, auto mechanics who are ``king'' of the barter economy, political organizers in a village vicarage and censors committed both to literature and socialism--illuminate the revolution's slogan, ``We are the people.'' Darnton is at his best relating the unforgettable tale of Isaak Behar, a Holocaust survivor who recalls Berlin before the Wall. Elsewhere, the book too often reveals its roots in magazine reportage (shorter versions of some chapters originally appeared in the New Republic ), repeating anecdotes and explanations, and still trying to make news out of what has by now become history. (June)
Reviewed on: 06/03/1991
Release date: 06/01/1991
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-0-393-31018-4
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