Burning Down the Haus: Punk Rock, Revolution, and the Fall of the Berlin Wall

Tim Mohr. Algonquin, $28.95 (384p) ISBN 978-1-61620-843-1
In this lively narrative, music journalist and former Berlin DJ Mohr takes readers on a profanity-laden, up-close-and-personal tour of the punk rock scene of 1980s East Germany. He follows notable figures in the scene—“Major” (who was 15 in 1977 when she became, in Mohr’s retelling, the first punk in East Germany), “A-Micha,” “Colonel,” “Pankow,” “Chaos,” “Otze,” and others—and their associated bands as they evolve from a handful of disaffected youths influenced by outside radio and bootleg Sex Pistols albums to a relentless movement of politically minded revolutionaries determined to change a corrupt system from within. Mohr makes clear the punks weren’t seeking a reunited Germany, just an East Germany where they’d be free to express themselves, yet their movement contributed to the fall of the Berlin Wall. He chronicles the ongoing clashes between the East German authorities and several microgenerations of punks, describing a compelling war of subversion, persistence, attrition, and defiance, where every act meant to crush spirits and enforce conformity only helped to fan the rebellious flames. The short chapters and punchy prose, coupled with thorough research, give the reader a front-row seat to the events of the ’80s. This take on punk evolution is engaging, enlightening, and well worth checking out. Agent: Anna Stein, ICM Partners. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/30/2018
Release date: 09/11/2018
Hardcover - 336 pages - 978-1-56858-588-8
Compact Disc - 978-1-68441-464-2
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