After the Wall: East Meets West in the New Berlin

John Borneman, Author Basic Books $21.95 (258p) ISBN 978-0-465-00083-8
Borneman, an anthropologist at UC-San Diego, interviewed a variety of East Germans to learn what it was like to live in the German Democratic Republic and how the Autumn Revolution of 1989 affected their lives. The picture that emerges is one of warped lives, stunted productive capacities and an entire generation ``perverted to passivity.'' Among the subjects discussed: the upwelling of public recriminations and reprisals that followed the crumbling of the GDR's power structure, and the concurrent headlong rush into the embrace of capitalism. Socialism, as Borneman wryly observes, had failed to deliver the goods. Millions of East Germans stormed West Berlin in an orgy of shopping after the opening of the Wall, but some prominent East Germans accused their countrymen of betraying socialist ideals ``for bananas and better washing machines.'' Though socialism in East Germany is all but extinct, the Federal Republic's ``virtual corporate takeover'' of its sister state is far from complete, stresses Borneman. His informative book captures in human terms the difficult transition period as East Germany reconstructs itself on the capitalist model. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 03/04/1991
Release date: 03/01/1991
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-0-465-00084-5
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