Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Berlin, Vol. 2: City of Smoke” as Want to Read:
Berlin, Vol. 2: City of Smoke
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Berlin, Vol. 2: City of Smoke

(Berlin #2)

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  2,196 ratings  ·  132 reviews
The second installment of the epic historical trilogy
The second volume of Jason Lutes’s historical epic finds the people of Weimar Berlin searching for answers after the lethal May Day demonstration of 1929. Tension builds along with the dividing wall between communists and nationalists, Jews and Gentiles, as the dawn of the Second World War draws closer. Meanwhile,
Paperback, 210 pages
Published September 16th 2008 by Drawn and Quarterly (first published 2002)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Berlin, Vol. 2, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Berlin, Vol. 2

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
4.10  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,196 ratings  ·  132 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Seth T.
Sep 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: comics
As far as middle chapters go, City of Smoke runs pretty much better than expected. Second acts generally fend off some of the energy and presence of the first in order to properly explode into the final act. While maintaining his virtuosity over the form, Lutes does calm things down a bit after the May Day massacre that concluded the first act.

City of Smoke largely explores two themes: the robust nightlife that ruled Berlin's hidden quarters and the growing political strife between factions of t
I want to write a few words about this volume 2 in the Berlin trilogy. Right now though, I'm expecting someone to arrive any minute. I will say I couldn't put it down. It was like watching a really good movie. A really sad movie too. A really great historical movie, basically. About the rise of Nazism during the Weimar era in Berlin, when Jazz was just making its way from America with and Josephine Baker had already become a Big Star and there were countless lesbian bars for women who liked to p ...more
David Schaafsma
Apr 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Second volume of Lutes' masterpiece about Berlin/Germany as it made the transition to Hitler.. Rich, varied, a panorama of different aspects of society heading to ruin... amazing.
Alex Sarll
I worried that I'd been reading too much British mysticism and imperial decline lately, felt I needed something about somewhere else to stop me going entirely squirrelly ahead of next week's moment of national madness. So instead I started reading something set in Berlin in the latter half of 1929, whose blurb quite fairly promises that it "creates a sense of anxiety and imminent doom".

Sometimes I can be a complete idiot.

Divisions harden, the well-meaning turn on each other while the thugs rejoi
Lars Guthrie
Jan 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This serves as a review of both volumes. The first was published in 2004, but it was wonderful to read them together (more volumes are planned). Lutes uses the Berlin May Day demonstrations as the dividing line in a two year story that takes place in the waning days of the Weimar Republic period from 1928 to 1930, just before the Nazis took over. Graphic novels are a beautiful medium to convey a rich and broad picture of history, and Lutes takes full advantage, creating something that prose or f ...more
City of Smoke, part two of Lutes's epic graphic novel set in Weimar Republic Berlin, sings. Reading it you can actually hear the panels: the music of the jazz band, the sounds of the city, the roar of the mounting political tension, the swing of Weimar excess. Any part two of three is difficult: part one has the advantage of the thrill of introduction, of origin; part three the excitement and satisfaction of conclusion. In Lutes's epic, of course the story moves forward, but Book Two has a disti ...more
Supratik Nandy
Oct 22, 2015 rated it liked it
The 2nd installment does not live up to the high standards set up by the 1st book. The artwork is inconsistent, the narrative not as dense & engrossing . But Lutes’ beautifully captures those tumultuous times ,the city obviously is a character & you feel the creepy feeling of doom looming just around the corner. God knows when the 3rd book is going to come out.
Dec 25, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shawn Birss
May 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Books like this make me wish I saved five star ratings exclusively for books like this.

This historical fiction about the rise of the National Socialists in 1929 Germany is so accurate to the time and place as to nearly not be fiction at all. The story is told through a staggeringly large cast considering the medium, weaving its way through the lives of couples, families, young, and old, through stories of immigrants, ethnic and sexual minorities, privileged German nationals, and the apolitical.
Carl Waluconis
Feb 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Historians, Cultural studies, contemporary politics, graphic novels
Shelves: novel, graphic-novels
The reputation for comics reached a high point with Maus winning a Pulitzer. However, comics are still looked down on if one uses a literature classification. In some ways this is justified if you randomly pick a graphic novel and read it. But I think of the Sturgeon rule when he was told 80% of science fiction was crap, that 80% of everything was crap (Apologies if I have that number wrong, but you get the idea). Science fiction fought a long battle to even be reviewed in the New York Times. Co ...more
Alex Tongue
Dec 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Lutes gets better as he goes. I'm struck by his usage of voices from margins to tell the story, especially in his engagement of queerness. While the first volume dealt with issues of distance and longing, this one felt far more claustrophobic. The pages are fraught with the incoming doom, and as a result, the characters are pushed together from the pressure; there is no longing, but instead desperate clinging. Even a fractured relationship finds itself still figuring out ways to persist as a fri ...more
Dec 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This volume was even better than the first one. Lutes is more consistent with his drawings and the comic is entirely sure of itself and the creative liberties he takes with the form. It's a real treat to read a comic this dense that is rooted in realism. I'm very excited to read the final volume in Fall 2018.
the gift
.??? 2000s: vol. 1, first review: the weimar republic in the roaring 20s- first volume in the best graphic series i have read.

i have just reread this, rare to do so with graphics, but worth it. my knowledge of history of that time is primarily through narrative works like this, not studying, finding a sense of the times through historical fiction- movies, books, now graphics- that helps make something like sense of horror of the rise of hitler, the horror of antisemitism then, the horror of its
Nov 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone who read Book One
Shelves: comics, fiction, american
It was always going to be difficult, to follow up such a masterpiece as [Berlin: Book One]... There's less cohesion in this volume, less of a climax; the feeling of impending doom is not as overpowering; stories feel more disconnected and inconclusive. It might be because this volume really is an in-between chapter, preparing the ground for the final showdown when the Republic will finally fall and all fates will be sealed; or it might be that Lutes was trying to capture some of the more startli ...more
Jan 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic
This is a well-conceived and executed graphic novel. The plot is an interesting mixture of historical fact and history-based speculation about what the lives of Berliners of the time would have been. The author, Lutes, explores through a variety of characters of different classes, political beliefs and backgrounds, Berlin (and the world) of the 20's, including many of the factors and, dare I say, subtleties, of how the National Socialists could come to power. This element is quite nuanced and re ...more
Jul 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Adults
Recommended to Helen by: No-one.
Both Berlin volumes are great - panoramic historical graphic novels of Weimar Berlin, and the deterioration of life just as the Nazis were about to take over.

Volume 2 - City of Smoke - follows the story of Marthe, but she is less of a protagonist than in volume 1; instead, the American jazz band takes center stage, as well as the heart-breaking story of Silvia, one of the children of Gudrun, who leads a street life once her mother is killed in a May Day demonstration, and her fascistic father l
Nicholas Whyte[return][return]I really enjoyed the first volume of this series, and I really enjoyed this one as well. Covering the period from June 1929 to September 1930, it doesn't have the same narrative climax (May Day 1929) as the previous book, but it does have a strong set of internal plot arcs. Marthe and Kurt delve deeper into the heart of what makes the city tick, but at the cost of their own relationship; Kid Hogan, an African American jazz clarinettist, find ...more
Eve Kay
Oct 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wws, favorites
Quite likely one of the best graphic novels I've read.
For some reason it's hard for me to put my finger on why this one was even better than the first one, but I guess it's that the stories gave me so much.
Especially the jazz musicians were a good twist. They gave me a look into a whole nother aspect of the beginning of WWII and also through the storyline of the musicians there were quite a few different scenes and sides to the prevailing society that were shown which might not have been otherwi
Aug 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: of-comics
Very good and ambitious. First I've read of this series, may seek more. Incredible sense of setting. Reminds me a lot of Eisner's Dropsie Avenue. Without colour, but not without compensatory detail in group characterisation (the blacks, jews, reds are all easily identifiable admist the chaos) and good fine linework (small panels with many lines; nice shading, reminds me of art by Charles Burns). Nice drawings of prewar nightlife and interior decor. My personal preference for graphic novels deman ...more
Dec 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Together with the first volume its a formidable piece of the comics form I have ever come across . Mr. Lutes is really good at painting the atmosphere through the characters. His use of thought bubbles is an expression of virtuosity in itself; He uses varied fonts and outlines across the book to project the character and they transform them into such real beings.

To be re-read.
May 14, 2009 rated it liked it
Story-wise, there's nothing wrong with City of Smoke. The writing is certainly the same calibre as book one, City of Stones. Unfortunately, the art seems to have slipped a bit, feeling a bit less detailed and sloppy to the point where I occasionally had difficulty telling who a given character was upon first appearance.
Apr 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
As with my review of Vol.1 City of Stones, I'm still really impressed with how Jason Lutes manages to pack in so much history and political explanations without the story becoming a preachy bogged down illustrated study tool. No, Lutes keeps everything natural and moving forward while teaching you as you go. Furthermore, I think Lutes achieved - even more so in these collected issues - a real look into what life was like for the "regular" Berliner in the months and years leading up to Hitler's t ...more
Nov 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: readers of the previous book
Perhaps it's the nature of this volume's position between major events in Weimar Germany that makes it feel a lesser volume than it's predecessor, but lesser it does feel. It may also be the tendency toward pontificating conversations, appearing/disappearing characters, excessive use of montage or even the loss of the more directly cinematic stylings of the earlier book, because all these things exist here when they didn't before.
City of Smoke is precariously positioned between Berlin vol. 1's M
Vinayak Hegde
Nov 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
In the second story of the trilogy - Berlin : City of Smokes, the clash between the Nazis and communist intensifies. However the story is meandering and not as crisp as the first edition. It however documents the diverse underground scene of Pre-WorldWarII Berlin and the misgivings of the different groups about each other. The story of Silvia - who becomes a street vagrant after the death of her mother in a communist protest is heartbreaking.

The artwork is excellent as usual but the first editio
Dec 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
I read volume one awhile ago, and I was happy that I didn't need to re read volume one, as I was very excited to read the second volume. The author is really able to capture the Weimar Republic in detail. From the decadent, creative and liberal underground to the political tension that led to the Nazis taking over as the dominant political party.

As always, reading books about the weimar, republic I feel especially sad as you know the fate of many of the characters. Jason Lutes really is able to
Tanvir Muntasim
Jun 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
Second installment of the trilogy delves further into the political currents that drove Germany inexorably towards fascism and second World War. It's chilling when one compares it as a parallel to the current world scenario and finds some unsettling similarities. It's dense in its political narrative, but also explores the vibrant nightlife of Berlin and the lives of common people caught in the tides of change. A slow but rewarding read.
Aug 24, 2017 rated it liked it
Earnest. Sincere. Informative. This books is a clear shot at trying to weave the strands of Weimar Germany society. From beggars to the elite, from virtuous to the decadent, from Jews to nascent Nazis, there's so much to see and learn. Often, it seems to descend into an illustrated text book, though...
Kris McCracken
Nov 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
A wonderful continuation of the series, Lutes has manages to reconstructed a hedonistic Berlin in the chaos of the collapsing Weimar Republic and emergence of the Nazi party. Immensely troubling, particularly the tendency of many to see the terrible things around them, but choose to withdraw into a world of self-indulgence while society crumbles around them.
Mar 09, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: graphic-novel
I fully enjoyed the first volume, but this sequel fell flat for me. Mostly, I think, because we are entering more familiar historical territory: fall of the Weimar Republic, rise of the NSDAP. The story sits uneasily between the epic (“North and South”) and the personal (“Berlin diaries”), and I found it harder to connect to the characters. Still, hooked enough to go find the final volume!
Christopher Smith
May 14, 2017 rated it it was ok
I really can't recommend this series. Its wandering and confusing subplots overwhelm the larger story. I really came away knowing nothing further about the rise of Nazi Germany, and can't say I enjoyed any of the story plots in exchange.
« previous 1 3 4 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Author? 1 17 Sep 30, 2008 06:49PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • City of Glass: The Graphic Novel
  • To the Heart of the Storm
  • It Was the War of the Trenches
  • 5 Is the Perfect Number
  • The Acme Novelty Library #19
  • Love and Rockets, Vol. 24: The Education of Hopey Glass
  • Peepshow: The Cartoon Diary
  • Clyde Fans, Book 1
  • White Rapids
  • Sshhhh!
  • Curses
  • The Little Man: Short Strips, 1980-1995
  • Safe Area Goražde: The War in Eastern Bosnia, 1992-1995
  • Showa, 1939-1944: A History of Japan
  • Good-Bye
  • Notes for a War Story
  • The Boulevard of Broken Dreams
  • Kings in Disguise
See similar books…

Other books in the series

Berlin (3 books)
  • Berlin, Vol. 1: City of Stones
  • Berlin, Vol. 3: City of Light