A radical and exciting history of a city – its culture, its people and its politics – that refreshes our image of Europe’s past and of the writing of history itself.
In Berlin, history is tangible. The sense of the past – of Europe, of Germany, and in particular of the twentieth century with its myths, depravities, idealism and horror – hangs in the air around the old Hinterhofs and deserted railway stations. No other city has played such a part in the tides of twentieth-century European affairs.
Faust’s Metropolis is a rich and inspiring history of this city, a breathtaking portrait of its people and a thorough evaluation of its achievements and errors. From the revolutionary fervour of its teeming slums, the insufferable pomp of Imperial Berlin, and the frantic modernism of Weimar to the brutality of the Nazis and the symbolic defeat of communism as the Wall came down, Berlin has played host to all the movements that have uplifted and afflicted German and European history. Alexandra Richie writes superbly of its role as a crucible of change.
Full of humour and with an inimitable personal view of the modern capital of reunited Germany, Faust’s Metropolis also offers a scholarly, thematic analysis of the ways in which the city has reinvented itself through the ages, the tensions which historically existed between Berliners and other Germans, the crucial role which Berlin has played in shaping the political and cultural life of Europe. In drawing together the complex strands of its actual and imagined past, Alexandra Richie reveals herself as an extraordinary new talent in her field.
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An ambitious undertaking, Faust's Metropolis: A History of Berlin aims to chronicle the history of Germany through the microcosm of its most dramatic city. Alexandra Richie's thousand-page tome spans from the time of Nero to Helmut Kohl. It is an encyclopaedic description of the Schicksal Stadt Deutschlands--the City of German Destiny--filled with the politics of rulers and the ideology of artists. Richie doesn't romanticise Berlin; early on, she invokes Goethe's view of the city as bourgeois, brash, and onerous. "Like the metropolis in Faust it has always been a rather shabby place," Richie comments. "It is neither an ancient gem like Rome, nor an exquisite beauty like Prague, nor a geographical marvel like Rio. It was formed not by the gentle, cultured hand which made Dresden or Venice but was wrenched from the unpromising landscape by sheer hard work and determination."
By placing her historical account in a world-encompassing perspective, the culture described in Faust's Metropolis comments on the whole of Germany and its people. The author is most eloquent in describing the recent history of the city. As a resident during its divided years, she describes Berlin as the ultimate "border city," on the frontline of the duelling Weltanschauungs of the Cold War. Her tone is familiar in describing the changing face of the city, and her enthusiasm evident as the book moves into the modern era. Filled with the insights of its unique and myriad residents, Faust's Metropolis recounts Berlin's culture, providing the reader with a thorough history and authoritative analysis.Review:
‘Thoroughgoing and engrossing. Modern Berlin was the hub of commerce, centre stage for politics, mecca for high culture, and a haven for extravagance and eccentricity. Alexandra Richie controls all this material superbly.’ Peter Gay
‘A wide-ranging book, full of fascinating detail, and compellingly written.’ Robert Conquest
‘A unique combination of an analysis of Berlin with a study of the entire history of Germany and of Germany’s problems of national and linguistic self-definition.’ Harold James
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Book Description HARPERCOLLINS, 1998. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 2158965