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The Sunday Times-bestselling author of Dresden returns with a monumental biography of the city that defined the twentieth century - Berlin

'I loved this book . . . apposite and wise . . . To anyone who knows Berlin a little and is fascinated by it, but would like to understand it better, this is a wonderful aid' David Aaronovitch, 
The Times

Throughout the twentieth century, Berlin stood at the centre of a convulsing world. This history is often viewed as separate acts: the suffering of the First World War, the cosmopolitan city of science, culture and sexual freedom Berlin became, steep economic plunges, the rise of the Nazis, the destruction of the Second World War, the psychosis of genocide, and a city rent in two by competing ideologies. But people do not live their lives in fixed eras. An epoch ends, yet the people continue - or try to continue - much as they did before. Berlin tells the story of the city as seen through the eyes not of its rulers, but of those who walked its streets.

In this magisterial biography of a city and its inhabitants, bestselling historian Sinclair McKay sheds new light on well-known characters - from idealistic scientist Albert Einstein to Nazi architect Albert Speer - and draws on never-before-seen first-person accounts to introduce us to people of all walks of Berlin life. For example, we meet office worker Mechtild Evers, who in her efforts to escape an oncoming army runs into even more appalling jeopardy, and Reinhart Cruger, a 12-year-old boy in 1941 who witnesses with horror the Gestapo coming for each of his Jewish neighbours in turn. Ever a city of curious contrasts, moments of unbelievable darkness give way to a wry Berliner humour - from banned perms to the often ridiculous tit-for-tat between East and West Berlin - and moments of joyous hope - like forced labourers at a jam factory warmly welcoming their Soviet liberators.

How did those ideologies - fascism and communism - come to flower so fully here? And how did their repercussions continue to be felt throughout Europe and the West right up until that extraordinary night in the autumn of 1989 when the Wall - that final expression of totalitarian oppression - was at last breached? You cannot understand the twentieth century without understanding Berlin; and you cannot understand Berlin without understanding the experiences of its people. Drawing on a staggering breadth of culture - from art to film, opera to literature, science to architecture - McKay's latest masterpiece shows us this hypnotic city as never before.

 
 

Review

I loved this book. McKay's writing is vivid and sometimes even beautiful . . . his own observations and summaries seem always apposite and wise . . . To anyone who knows Berlin a little and is fascinated by it, but would like to understand it better, this is a wonderful aid . . . Sinclair McKay was born to write this book -- David Aaronovitch - The Times

Remarkable . . . A majestic work of non-fiction -- Matthew d'Ancona - Tortoise

McKay has written a masterful account of a city marked by infamy. Supported by meticulous research, Berlin is by turns terrifying and fascinating. If there is a book that must be read this year, this is it -- Amanda Foreman

The book's principal subject is Berliners doomed role in the Second World War. Through their eyes, McKay brilliantly captures Germany's initial successes, and then the reverses and escalating defeats . . . To have uncovered so many previously unknown characters and fascinating anecdotes is especially admirable -- Iain MacGregor - Spectator

McKay's powerful imagery and magnetic prose combine to produce an electrifying new account of Berlin. 'You cannot understand the twentieth century without understanding Berlin', claims the author. He makes a compelling case -- Julia Boyd, author of Travelers in the Third Reich

Powerful. Visceral. Truly revelatory. Beautifully written and utterly compelling. I didn't think Sinclair McKay could top his previous book, Dresden, which was masterful. He has proven me wrong with Berlin -- Damien Lewis, author of SAS Bravo Three Zero

One of my favourite historians -- Dan Snow, History Hit

Great subject, well-researched, brilliantly written. Anyone who wants to understand Berlin's incomparable place at the very centre of twentieth century history should begin with Sinclair McKay's remarkable, mesmerising book -- Keith Lowe, author of Savage Continent

Powerful . . . there is rage in his ink. McKay's book grips by its passion and originality -- Max Hastings, Sunday Times, on Dresden

Painstakingly researched and fascinating -- John Harding, Daily Mail on The Secret Listeners

About the Author

Sinclair McKay is the bestselling author of DresdenThe Secret Life of Bletchley Park, The Secret Listeners, Bletchley Park Brainteasers and Secret Service Brainteasers. He is a literary critic for the Telegraph and the Spectator and lives in London.
9780241503171
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Berlin Life And Loss In The City That Shaped The Century

Berlin Life And Loss In The City That Shaped The Century

ISBN: 9780241503171
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Details
  • ISBN: 9780241503171
  • Author: Sinclair Mckay
  • Publisher: Penguin Viking
  • Pages: 464
  • Format: Hardback

Book Description

The Sunday Times-bestselling author of Dresden returns with a monumental biography of the city that defined the twentieth century - Berlin

'I loved this book . . . apposite and wise . . . To anyone who knows Berlin a little and is fascinated by it, but would like to understand it better, this is a wonderful aid' David Aaronovitch, 
The Times

Throughout the twentieth century, Berlin stood at the centre of a convulsing world. This history is often viewed as separate acts: the suffering of the First World War, the cosmopolitan city of science, culture and sexual freedom Berlin became, steep economic plunges, the rise of the Nazis, the destruction of the Second World War, the psychosis of genocide, and a city rent in two by competing ideologies. But people do not live their lives in fixed eras. An epoch ends, yet the people continue - or try to continue - much as they did before. Berlin tells the story of the city as seen through the eyes not of its rulers, but of those who walked its streets.

In this magisterial biography of a city and its inhabitants, bestselling historian Sinclair McKay sheds new light on well-known characters - from idealistic scientist Albert Einstein to Nazi architect Albert Speer - and draws on never-before-seen first-person accounts to introduce us to people of all walks of Berlin life. For example, we meet office worker Mechtild Evers, who in her efforts to escape an oncoming army runs into even more appalling jeopardy, and Reinhart Cruger, a 12-year-old boy in 1941 who witnesses with horror the Gestapo coming for each of his Jewish neighbours in turn. Ever a city of curious contrasts, moments of unbelievable darkness give way to a wry Berliner humour - from banned perms to the often ridiculous tit-for-tat between East and West Berlin - and moments of joyous hope - like forced labourers at a jam factory warmly welcoming their Soviet liberators.

How did those ideologies - fascism and communism - come to flower so fully here? And how did their repercussions continue to be felt throughout Europe and the West right up until that extraordinary night in the autumn of 1989 when the Wall - that final expression of totalitarian oppression - was at last breached? You cannot understand the twentieth century without understanding Berlin; and you cannot understand Berlin without understanding the experiences of its people. Drawing on a staggering breadth of culture - from art to film, opera to literature, science to architecture - McKay's latest masterpiece shows us this hypnotic city as never before.

 
 

Review

I loved this book. McKay's writing is vivid and sometimes even beautiful . . . his own observations and summaries seem always apposite and wise . . . To anyone who knows Berlin a little and is fascinated by it, but would like to understand it better, this is a wonderful aid . . . Sinclair McKay was born to write this book -- David Aaronovitch - The Times

Remarkable . . . A majestic work of non-fiction -- Matthew d'Ancona - Tortoise

McKay has written a masterful account of a city marked by infamy. Supported by meticulous research, Berlin is by turns terrifying and fascinating. If there is a book that must be read this year, this is it -- Amanda Foreman

The book's principal subject is Berliners doomed role in the Second World War. Through their eyes, McKay brilliantly captures Germany's initial successes, and then the reverses and escalating defeats . . . To have uncovered so many previously unknown characters and fascinating anecdotes is especially admirable -- Iain MacGregor - Spectator

McKay's powerful imagery and magnetic prose combine to produce an electrifying new account of Berlin. 'You cannot understand the twentieth century without understanding Berlin', claims the author. He makes a compelling case -- Julia Boyd, author of Travelers in the Third Reich

Powerful. Visceral. Truly revelatory. Beautifully written and utterly compelling. I didn't think Sinclair McKay could top his previous book, Dresden, which was masterful. He has proven me wrong with Berlin -- Damien Lewis, author of SAS Bravo Three Zero

One of my favourite historians -- Dan Snow, History Hit

Great subject, well-researched, brilliantly written. Anyone who wants to understand Berlin's incomparable place at the very centre of twentieth century history should begin with Sinclair McKay's remarkable, mesmerising book -- Keith Lowe, author of Savage Continent

Powerful . . . there is rage in his ink. McKay's book grips by its passion and originality -- Max Hastings, Sunday Times, on Dresden

Painstakingly researched and fascinating -- John Harding, Daily Mail on The Secret Listeners

About the Author

Sinclair McKay is the bestselling author of DresdenThe Secret Life of Bletchley Park, The Secret Listeners, Bletchley Park Brainteasers and Secret Service Brainteasers. He is a literary critic for the Telegraph and the Spectator and lives in London.

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