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Berlin Now: The Rise of the City and the Fall of the Wall

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  354 ratings  ·  47 reviews
Berlin Now by Peter Schneider is the inside story of this uniquely fascinating city over the last five decades, written by a legendary Berliner.In the last fifty years, no other city has changed more than Berlin. Divided in 1961, reunited in 1989, it has morphed over the last twenty-five years into Europe's most vibrant melting-pot of artists, immigrants and entrepreneurs, ...more
Paperback, 328 pages
Published November 6th 2014 by Penguin (first published January 1st 1992)
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Miss M
Pleasant enough read but I wouldn't go out of my way to recommend it.
Sep 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Having recently read, and loved, Emanuel Litvinoff’s wonderful 'The Lost Europeans’ I wanted to read more about Berlin, a city I have yet to visit despite being interested in it for decades.

'Berlin Now: The Rise of the City and the Fall of the Wall' by Peter Schneider, published in 2014, is a very readable account of the changes in Berlin since the fall of the wall in 1989. It's an interesting account of a fascinating city that makes me even keener to go and see it for myself.

'Berlin Now: The R
Dec 01, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I read the book Berlin: Portrait of a City Through the Centuries and I really loved the unique way the history of Berlin was addressed. It also got me on a bit of a Berlin kick. I found myself nostalgic for a city I had lived in for two weeks in the 90s and visited so many other times. I saw this book while researching info found in the Portrait of a City book. I've used some of Peter Schneider's work in my classes and, though I didn't know who he was then, I stumbled upon his book reading in He ...more
Apr 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I didn’t love Berlin when I visited. I was tired, and I was led on long walking tours throughout the city. It was strangely sunny, and the sun beat down on me with unfamiliarity. It wasn’t until the day I left, when I walked past the S-Bahn tracks and to little shops, that I began to appreciate the life that hummed under its greyness. Later that summer, I read The Wall Jumper and revisited Berlin in my mind, albeit a past version of what I had seen. I began to fall in love with its pace and the ...more
Schneider a long time resident of Berlin, reflects on what makes it such a unique city. He delves into the architecture that has evolve with the spliting and reuniting of a city. He explores the night clubs and various neighborhoods. And he talks about remembrance and the power of history, that can weigh down a city. And the challenges of immigration, both from the East to the West and from the Middle East to Europe.

Why I started this book: Berlin is a fascinating city, full of history, energy a
Kimberly Schlarman
Aug 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: social-history
I finished about half of this book before a trip to Berlin. The essays I had read were fascinating and while walking around the city, I was able to point out places I had read about and offer my husband interesting bits of history, context, politics, and trivia. Schneider does an excellent job of describing the culture of the city. I’m only just starting to delve into the unique history of Berlin and this was a great starting point.
Katrina Sark
Peter Schneider has very little new or original to say about the New Berlin.

Here are some quotes:

Cinderella Berlin

p.7 – Today, half of Berlin’s tourists come from abroad, and their numbers continue to grow every year. Forecasts already predict that the city, which currently counts 25 million overnight visitors, could soon catch up with Paris (37 million overnight visitors), thus making it second only to London.

p.8 – Cinderella Berlin offers an inestimable advantage over these princess cities:
May 24, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A thematic study of a great city which I decided to read on my first visits for 15 years or so. It's especially strong on gentrification - that double edge sword of urban cityscapes the world over - and generally provides a nuanced view. I also enjoyed the chapter on super club Berghain, its mystifying door policy one of the main reasons why Berlin is such a great city - for, in the main, it doesn't matter how you dress, what you look like or how old you are - or, arguably, how much money you've ...more
Tom Scott
Aug 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
I visited Berlin for the first time recently and was amazed. I loved the city's grittiness and its general atmosphere of creativity and the feeling of unending fertility. This books goes a long way in explaining how the city got this way. Written by a local who first visited Berlin in the early '60s it's a behind the scenes look at the culture and politics that have shaped the city during the last 50 or 60 years. The larger question asked is how does a city transform while still staying true to ...more
Mar 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting book by a German writer. It's a series of essays about contemporary Berlin and about as far from a travel book as you can get. There are warts, there are roses, and sometimes they're side-by side. I've always been fascinated by Berlin and we plan to visit for the first time later this year. Based on Schneider's account we're probably just about too old to enjoy it. It's apparently creative, trendy, and quirky as well as a mixture of very liberal and very xenophobic populations w ...more
Jul 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It took me some time to finish this book, but that is no problem.
It is a biography about Berlin and every chapter has is own theme. So you can read it chapter for chapter if you want.

It is a great book for everybody who has been to Berlin, a lot of familiar places and their history are in this book. I liked that a lot.

I also learned a lot about the history of Berlin, that was nice too.
Nov 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An incomparable pairing for a first time trip to Berlin if you’re especially interested in it’s recent history. Anecdote-filled narrative that gives a good overview of many aspects of the city’s transition since the fall of the wall.
Oct 31, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult
I enjoyed this book. It’s nice that the chapters are independent from each other so it works out to read the book in chunks.
Aug 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Eclectic, personal and insightful insight into Berlin.
Premier livre sur Berlin que j'ai eu l'occasion d'avoir entre les mains.
Les premiers chapitres légèrement poussifs... Après, c'est que du bonheur.
Se lit assez rapidement. Très clair.

Jan 03, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
If anything, the book pointed floodlights at the glaring hole in my education about anything that happened in the world after 1945. The first half felt more lively than the second.
Dec 11, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Wessies won and Ossies lost. It is because of that result that you get biased pieces of work like the book "Berlin now" by Peter Schneider. The author is so utterly convinced of his - Wessie's - rigthness and superiority, that he does not even bother to hide his bias toward the East or to make it more subtle. In fact his technique is straigtforward. All, which has anything to do with East Berlin or GDR, is always labelled as product of dictatorship, regime, propaganda or occupation by the Soviet ...more
I normally read books about cities hoping to learn how cities rise and fall. What makes a city succeed, what makes it falter and fall. A book claiming to look at the sociology of a city in the present does not seem to be much of a lesson on urban planning. However, I found this book to be more enjoyable than many other books looking at cities over time.

Schneider has a unique writing style in that he tells stories to illustrate culture. It is a little tiring that he sways between first and secon
Mary Warnement
Aug 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: berlin, essays, subway
Reading this was a wonderful way to extend the pleasures of my recent trip to Berlin. I started with Simon Winder's Germania, which in fact I'd carried with me and read aloud a few pages on specific topics at night to my husband to expand on something we'd seen during the day. My husband exaggerated and called Winder, who is British, a racist because of his comments on Germany. I forebear pointing out he meant to say "nationalist." It doesn't exert the same sort of disapproval. It's true, I wond ...more
Peter Knox
I heard about this book from the Sunday NYTimes paper and read it in preparation of my trip to Berlin. It's a collection of essays from a long-time writer and resident of Berlin, purportedly (since it just published) about Berlin NOW.

The book starts very strong with essays on various architecture projects in the wake of the Berlin wall. It's fascinating to hear back and forth about the public and political debate behind each development. From tearing down old buildings to make way for new to res
David Harris
Sep 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was looking for a travel book, ie. a book which describes Berlin for those curious about it. This book delivered on that count. It also gave interesting information about how various neighborhoods have changed since the wall came down and the politics surrounding the re-building of the areas formerly occupied by the wall.

If you're interested in urban planning and/or architecture, I think you'd really enjoy the chapters on re-development. But there are also chapters on immigration and on the cu
Oct 07, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A series of essays whose transitions resemble those of Mr. Show - connected, but not necessarily related. The reunification of Berlin is an unprecedented social experiment, and it's interesting to hear that the residents of each side of the wall have different personalities, that the culture endures to this day. Communist East Berlin has, paradoxically, attracted more of the artist types possibly because of the contradictory nature of such, or perhaps because land is cheaper. I love small detail ...more
In addition to attempting to identify what draws people to Berlin (“the weirdness, perpetual incompleteness, and outlandishness of Berlin – and the liveliness inherent in these qualities.”), Schneider tries to articulate what Berlin is today, as a community, 25 years after reunification. It’s an engrossing book which attempts the practically impossible: describing the essence of what makes Berlin so Berlin.
Having been to Berlin many times, both while the Wall existed and after it came down, rea
Jan 15, 2017 rated it liked it
More like a 3.5 I suppose. I enjoyed the way the author told the history of post-war--and snippets of pre-war--Berlin through anecdotes,people and buildings. As an urbanism nerd I particularly enjoyed the chapters focusing on the way the physical space has shaped society in the city. I sort of wish Schneider had stuck to that because when he strays into his own social commentary it gets a bit weird. For example his insistence that West German men held a predilection for East German women because ...more
Sep 05, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up because I really liked Peter Schneider's novels about divided Berlin, because the 25th anniversary of the fall of the wall has gotten a lot of attention recently, and because I'd like to go to Berlin next year and I'm interested to see what's going on. It was an interesting set of anecdotes about various aspects of Berlin (politics, immigrants, sex, clubs and young people, east vs. west) but kind of hard to tell what the overall purpose of writing the book was. Also, the title i ...more
Luke Nicholas
Interesting book, but not what I thought. It gives you a lot of background and context to contemporary Berlin, but it's almost exclusively 80s and early 90s background. I bought the book on the pretext that it would give me a solid understanding of Berlin *right now*, rather than the Berlin just after the Wall came down.

I guess Schneider is a product of his generation, and that's fine, it's just this book didn't quite give me what I was looking for. As a newcomer to Berlin, I felt I needed to b
Gordon Howard
Episodic story of Berlin since 1989 (with some unavoidable discussion of events before that date). Somewhat disjointed, but the same thing could be said of Mark Twain's Life on the Mississippi. The translation from German is sometimes clunky. Definitely worth reading if you are going to be visiting Berlin in the near future. It's definitely one of the most interesting cities in Europe, not always in a good way, but always in a way that invites discussion.
Jul 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I may not be interested in all topics covered in the book but definitely I have learned a lot about Berlin - history, architecture, people and culture. It surely is a unique place.
As I don't really know much about Berlin, I kept referring to Wiki to find out more and it took me some time to finish reading it! If the book included photos of places and people it talks about, it would be a lot more reader-friendly.
Sep 29, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The most fascinating this about this book is how someone could make a book about Berlin - which is the most wonderful and interesting city - so dull. Pointless prose, leading nowhere, musings with nothing attaching them to paragraphs before or after.
When it got to the paragraph beginning 'And what had become of the pigeon plague?' out of nowhere, I was done. Fortunately, that was the second last page of this book. Disappointing.
Michelle Barker
Schneider writes in a readable style but the book as a whole reads more like a compilation of magazine articles. There isn't much coherence to the chapters. It is more like a series of vignettes. Some interesting information, though. Clearly I didn't go to the right night spots on my visit to Berlin. A good reason to go back!
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Peter Schneider is a German novelist. His novel Lenz, published in 1973, had become a cult text for the Left, capturing the feelings of those disappointed by the failure of their utopian revolt. Since then, Peter Schneider has written novels, short stories and film scripts, that often deal with the fate of members of his generation. Other works deal with the situation of Berlin before and after Ge ...more
“Apparently there isn't a professional in Berlin for which you can't get famous.” 0 likes
“Apparently there isn't a profession in Berlin for which you can't get famous.” 0 likes
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